As I mentioned the other day, my father has both begged me not to get a tattoo myself, and not to date anyone with a tattoo.
My father's theory about why men get tatts: so they can look stronger and tougher than they really are.
That might be part of why a guy riding a Harley Davidson gets an "I ♥ Ma" inscribed on his left biceps.
But I think the men and women in hipster enclaves like Brooklyn get tatts primarily as a way of expressing themselves. So they might get an image they especially like emblazoned on their ankle, say; or get a slogan or phrase they find especially meaningful printed on their forearm.
In very rare cases, sometimes tatts are even utilitarian. A photographer I went out with had a series of numbers in indelible ink around his wrists: they were his preferred camera settings. Tres cool, no?
Once I asked another friend of mine, who has a complex forest scene covering his back and arms (along with a few images on his legs) why he liked tatts so much. "I think they look a lot better than my naked skin," he told me. (I had to give him a squeeze after that.)
But ... I have to admit that while I can handle one tattoo or two, beyond that, they're likely to turn me off. I also generally like very simple designs: like numerical representations, words, some kind of Maori swirl. I also think they look best when they are all black, or monochromatic.
One well-muscled and broad-shouldered guy named Jonathan, I dated for a bit in my early twenties, had a super-sexy LOVE square on his shoulder, which looked almost exactly like the famous Gary Indiana sculpture:
Perhaps my all-time favorite tattoo, however, can be seen on the forearm of my friend Daniel. (It can also, for a limited time, be seen right here on this blog! Check out the pic, below.) I met Daniel in D.C., where I lived briefly, because he waited on my father and me one night when we were out to dinner at Cashion's Eat Place. My father — as he is wont to do — engaged Daniel in conversation ... and though I was sort of mortified, I was also sort of glad, because Daniel is pretty hot! By the time he came by to see if we were interested in dessert, I felt courageous enough to ask Daniel what his tatt was all about. He told me he'd designed it himself, and that it was a string of Roman numerals (in different old-typewriter-fonts) that represented the year of his grandfather's birth: 1936.
Daniel and I hit it off, and so, even though I moved out of DC the following week (to return to my beloved NYC), we've kept in touch. When I contacted him about this post, he told me there was actually more of a story behind his tattoo....
I may end up seeing him later this week, since he's in town for the weekend. When I get the full scoop, you know I'll tell you.
So, what do you guys have to say about all this? Would you date a guy with a single tattoo? What about someone with all of the inhabitants of the San Francisco Zoo pictured on his back? What do you think of my friend Sarah Robbins' essay about getting adjusted to her BF's tattoo?