Hot or Not: Tattoos On Mid-50s Men
I’m like a lot of people. I’ve got an idea of who I am. This idea does not necessarily conform to what anybody else thinks. For example: I had dinner a few years ago with a cool black guy in New York, a Philadelphia journalist who was looking for someone to help him with a memoir of his career. I thought the dinner went pretty well, though I ended up paying for it as he bolted into the night. Afterward, this journalist—a writer who needed a writer to write his memoir—complained to his agent that I was the whitest guy imaginable, so how was I going to be able to sound like him, how was I going to be able to impart his view of the world, how was I possibly going to get it? It was all about a kind of cool.
Though if you read this guy’s journalism, you might have second thoughts on sounding like him. But I have begun by digressing. Let’s get to it: Thank God my wife Karen’s middle name is not Mildred. Because a couple Sundays ago, our son Nick and I went to the Kadillac Tattoo parlor in Manayunk, and had her middle name—Faith—inked on our arms. Karen has been through some scary health stuff the last few years, not to mention raising two teenage boys and bringing home half the bacon at the same time. It seemed like a good idea to step back and nod in that direction.
[SIGNUP]Though the running joke, because there is always a running joke when you’ve been married a while, is that if me and the Mrs. go belly up, which, I will point out, is extremely unlikely, I can turn to another reason for rubbing lotion on my upper arm every morning: FAITH.
But back to this idea of how cool I am. I will tell you that several women in the office were highly amused that I, of all people, got a tattoo, so perhaps this confirms something, given that I am 56, with no known relationship with popular culture. Though the women also were quite enthused to get a peek at the tattoo, so it confirms something else as well about me, don’t you think?
Okay, it’s possible, remotely possible, that I’ve forever lost my shot in the Sean Penn direction (Sean Penn?), just as speaking several languages or playing decent golf are abilities other people can worry about.
But it ain’t about being cool. It’s more about coming to grips. Every St. Patty’s Day, I think of my long-deceased grandfather, a cigar-smoking half-Irish wit and a hapless drunk for a large piece of his life. Mid-life, he quit drinking. I quit drinking two and a half years ago. This was a good thing, because the drinking had started moving at a faster pace, coming up behind me, and it was going to run me down—my grandfather, he smashed up cars and chased women up in Trenton. Me, I was going to end up without a wife. We weren’t close to that, but it was going to happen, at some point, if I kept on in the same way.
This may be a load to put on a bit of ink on my shoulder, but hope and insight come in strange packages. There it is, every a.m., my toothbrush ready to do battle: FAITH. Sobriety isn’t the point, really—taking a symbolic stance is. Here I am. Settled in for the long haul. Permanence.
Seventeen-year-old Nick, he doesn’t need all that; he’s merely cool, with his new tat. By the way, that journalist, the one who whined that I wouldn’t get it—he still can’t write to save his life.