Though tattoos are now ubiquitous, many people still look askance at them. My boyfriend BG is a long-time tattoo afficianado, and over the years has acquired many of them on his arms – a few of which I’m posting here. Mind you, he doesn’t strut down the street in a muscle top flashing them to the general public, but when he wears a short-sleeve shirt, some of them are visible. And based on this — especially combined with his triple hooped earrings in both ears — some assume that he is a certain “caliber” of guy, certainly not a bourgie kind of fellow, at any rate–and perhaps a sinister, dangerous sort to boot.
When I met BG, he did have some tattoos, but they were not of the highest caliber. Being a Halloween Scorpio, most of his tattoos celebrate this in some way – pumpkins, witches stirring steaming cauldrons, skulls, black cats, and so on. That fateful Halloween night when he walked into my regular bar and swept me off my feet, he was able to prove to me that it was indeed his special day by displaying a skull tattoo inscribed with his birthday, 10/31/50. But since the lame tattoo artist didn’t know how to do clear numerals, the 5 looked like a 3, so I coyly asked him if he was born in 1950 or 1930. Very cute, I know.
Over the seven years I’ve known him, I’ve treated BG to many new tattoos. Since I knew of one cool tattoo parlor in my neck of the woods on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I insisted he go there and get his work done by the young “kids” — 20-and 30-somethings — who knew how to do it up right, and were up on the latest technologies.
BG doesn’t get the tattoos to intimidate others – he just loves them. And when you’re into them, it’s kind of an addiction. As soon as you get out of the chair, you forget the pain you went through and want more.
But once in awhile they do come in handy to deliver a “message.” For instance, one time he was at a check-cashing center in the Bronx, paying his cable and phone bills. There was a long line, and he’d been waiting there for about 20 minutes, when some guy came out of nowhere and gave him a cock and bull story about how he’d been on line in front of him, but had gone to put money in the parking meter. BG rolled up his sleeves for emphasis, revealing an assortment of skulls and other horrific images, and informed the interloper that he wasn’t about to let him get ahead of him. The guy instantly turned around and left, his check uncashed.
Anyway, shortly after I met BG, my friend (let’s call her Babs) from work was anxious to meet this sweet guy who kept giving me flowers and presents all the time. Babs was a ditzy broad – likeable enough, but her supervisor couldn’t stand her because she was so scatterbrained. She also was kind of a slut — and I say this with affection — because she told me about instance after instance where she chased after guys she had just met and wouldn’t rest until she’d slept with them. That’s not so unique, I suppose, but the thing is that she was not interested in a one-night stand, but rather became instantly infaturated with each guy and dove in head first, so to speak.
At the time I met BG, Babs and I were both on the prowl – though I remained chaste in my pursuits for Mr. Right (of course). I’d even met a nice Scorpio online shortly before meeting BG, and kind of pawned him off on Babs, who immediately fell head over heels. Unfortunately, the guy turned out to be a soon-to-be-divorced, stone cold alkie, broke and sleeping in a church, and impotent to boot.
Another prior Babs escapade involved the night she went to a bar, started chatting with the bartender, hung around all night until closing and then just wouldn’t give up until he took her home – though he was far from hard up and it wasn’t really his idea. Unfortunately, the guy didn’t wear a condom and she neglected to tell him she had genital warts (ugh) until much later, so he was not a happy camper, to say the least.
So anyway, Babs was hell-bent on meeting BG. He picked us up at work, and we headed to a local bar. I told Babs it was our treat, since she was also the carefree, live-for-the-moment sort who sometimes had to borrow money from me to prevent the electric company from cutting her off or the landlord from throwing her out.
So we met up, went to the bar, and settled in at a booth in the back. Things were strained from the start – the vibes were all wrong. But the moment that really sticks in my mind was when she abruptly turned to BG and demanded: “What’s with the tattoos?”
There was an awkward pause. Babs was a Manhattan-born babe, who thought of herself as sophisticated and liberated, but like me, she was also a nice sheltered Jewish girl who hung with guys who were generally piercing-free and tattooless. BG was certainly a wee bit different from the sort of guy I was used to, but I liked it. Needless to say, I was shocked at the way she blatantly judged and sterotyped my beloved BG.
I told BG to lift up his sleeve and show her the yellow rose emblazoned with my name. She said, “Oh, THAT one’s good.” (What she would have given to have a guy put “BABS” on his bicep for her….I’m sure!)
Anyway, she wound up drinking plenty of Stolis on us. She wanted us to wait and have her condom-free boyfriend meet up with us, and doubtless do a double glom of free rounds – but we demurred though she begged us to stick around. That was the last time BG and I got together with Babs.
How could someone who worked in Greenwich Village and lived in the East 20s not have noticed that all the kids in New York City were getting full-sleeve, or even full-body tattoos? Sheesh.
In any case, I love to humor and pamper BG, though I would never get a tattoo myself. One of the guys in the cool tatooo place I took him to was a 20-something sort who was the spitting image of Brad Pitt. Of course, girls would come in and moon around him, but he was a young, free spirit. So one day after a tattooed girl had stopped by and invited him up to her parent’s country house for the weekend, BG said to him, “Wow, that’s cool – you must meet a lot of women in this line of work.”
Tattoo guy and his colleage both laughed and said, “We don’t trust women who get tattoos. They’re all crazy.”
Well, I’m a crazy bitch, but at least I’m not a crazy tattooed bitch. I’ll leave the excitement to BG, thank you very much.