Think young, right?! We baby boomers do try. But sometimes it’s hard. Humor blogger Perry Block of Havertown, Pennsylvania, has struggled with it himself, but explains in this piece for BoomerCafé his own Tattoo Breakthrough.
It was a moment in the history of the Western World unlike any other.
That is, in the history of the Western World in the immediate vicinity of a Starbucks Coffee Shop in Bala-Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. It was August 14, 2015, and as the young woman barista brought our coffees to my son and me on that day, my eyes were drawn to a tattoo of an apparent butterfly on the underside of her left arm. Before I could control myself, by God, the previously unimaginable was out of my mouth!
“That’s a pretty tattoo,” I said.
“Oh, thank you,” she replied.
“Dad!” exclaimed Brandon as we walked out of her earshot, “That’s a major breakthrough!”
“I guess it is,” I said modestly. “I did actually like it, but I’m not sure how or why.”
I’m a Boomer and I’ve never understood the allure of tattoos. Back in the sixties and early seventies, tattoos were generally worn by the shorter-haired folks we called greasers, sworn enemies of the freaks and pseudo freaks. The standard tattoos were a skull and crossbones, a crude rendering of Jesus, or a heart with the name of a likely now-former girlfriend emblazoned through the middle.
Some hippies had tattoos, but they were as few in number as there were un-smoked roaches in my apartment at the end of a Friday evening. Our rock heroes did not have them, the cool people we aspired to be like did not have them, and the hot chicks I never had the guts to approach that I’m still kicking myself about 40 years later certainly did not have them.
But times have changed and tattoos today proliferate like Republican presidential candidates. In fact it’s hard these days to find an athlete or movie star who believes a blank slate is an acceptable approach to one’s epidermis. My son doesn’t have one but he has friends who do, and he has told me none of them are greasers, bikers, or intoxicated sailors just waking up after a long weekend’s shore leave.
In fact Brandon has constantly admonished me to stop spreading negative vibes about tattoos, but until now I’ve virtually carried a soapbox with me to do just that. I would constantly pull it out whenever we encountered someone whose body was marked up like the first draft of a 1970s term paper.
But at that Starbucks, something had changed and without my even knowing it.
“So what brought that on, Dad?” asked Brandon, as we return now to the greatest history-making moment in a Starbucks since someone was able to readily afford a latte.
“I dunno,” I answered. “It just slipped out naturally as something to say. Like, thanks for the coffee, have a nice day, or do you have an attractive mom in my demographic?”
“What that means,” said Brandon, “is you now accept tattoos as a legitimate expression of someone’s personality, even if you would never choose that mode of expression yourself.”
He was right. I was able at last to see something that my pre-conceived notions wouldn’t allow me to see before. Now I saw the colors and the artistry that I had for so long constantly confused with the skull and crossbones from days gone by.
So it seems I’ve made a Tattoo Breakthrough. But would I actually get one myself? Have I made a Tattoo Break on through to the other side?
Nah, I’m not ready for any of that. And I still don’t like tattoos that envelop a human body like a well-used etch-a-sketch. But if you’re a Boomer and you want a simple not-too-sizable tattoo, I won’t say a discouraging word.