I’ve never met you…mostly. I try my best to come across as someone who is a bit unapproachable. I know…not the best character trait but I do like to have as much control over my social situation as possible. One way I do this is by generally initiating conversations if/when I feel in a sociable mood…otherwise, back off.
I have a clean shaven head, facial piercings and visible tattoos. I am a physically imposing person and when I do let my facial hair grow out it has a way of growing into a mean SOB moustache. If someone begins to get all “buddy buddy” with me prematurely I usually have enough social graces to handle it well. I politely joke back. I humour the unsolicited conversation. I do the socially appropriate thing – except, when someone wants to talk about tattoos.
Now, hold up – if you are the hot waitress at the pub or something I’m okay with that…but if you’re not that person (and 99% of you are not) do not start asking me about tattoos. I don’t care about the whole “What do you expect having visible tattoos?” That bullshit. I don’t point out your hairy moles or your field of blackheads do I?
There are generally two categories of people who begin conversations with strangers about tattoos: the wannabe and the uncreative.
The Wannabe is that person who “has always wanted a tattoo and has a design in mind if only they could find a good shop”. They always start with asking where I got my work done. I always give them an answer (Coz I’m proud of my artists at The Arthouse Inc) but they can never stop there. They have to tell me about their future design or their little dolphin on their ankle (which, though technically a tattoo, really doesn’t impress anyone more than a liver spot on an 80 year old). Then they always follow up with “So…what do they mean?” I hate this question! Not only did I not want to talk with you about this, but I’ve been unresponsive to your drivel and now you want me to tell you something personal when all I know about you is that you’re poorly serving coffee at a greasy Denny’s at 8am on Saturday. I used to just make up something: merchant marines, drunken mistake. Now I just look them straight in the eye and say, “No. I have no interest in telling you what they mean. That’s my business and you should know better than to ask.” I don’t make friends easily.
The other person is the Uncreative. This is an unfortunate title, which clearly reveals my own creative deficit, but none the less is accurate. This person – in my opinion – asks about other peoples tattoos because they know they are uncreative and are concerned that their tattoos are really pieces of shit. They hope that by commenting positively on your work that you’ll in turn comment glowingly on theirs. I will not play this game. I don’t want to see your tattoos. I don’t care where you got them done. Like my dude server at breakfast a couple weeks ago. He pours my coffee, says how much he likes my work, tells me about his “work in progress” and then, within 20 seconds begins to unbutton his work shirt (in a crowded restaurant) to show me his tattoos. I nearly lost it. As he reached for his buttons – assuming that I must want to see his pasty-ass chest and twiggy arms – I loudly told him to cut that shit out and that I have absolutely no interest in any tattoos he may or may not have. Only about 30 people heard me call him out on his stupidity. Come on people. Keep your shit together!!
Tattoos are meaningful…sometimes. Tattoos are significant…sometimes. Don’t ask people awkward questions that you don’t deserve answers to. Don’t bro someone before you know someone. I don’t ask me questions that you don’t want to hear the answers to because I may be the one guy who’ll gladly tell you that your baby is butt-ass ugly.