July 20, 2011

To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo?

The Recent Paterfamilias has found himself in a situation in which he is typically uncomfortable. The Recent Paterfamilias is curious as to what the public thinks. More specifically, the Recent Paterfamilias is curious as to what his reading public thinks about one singular issue. This is not to say that the Recent Paterfamilias does not care for the public’s opinion, or the public itself (or himself, or herself—does the “public” have a gender?), it is only that the Recent Paterfamilias, being a Master of Opinion, is often loath to seek out the opinions of others.

So…let us begin:


Tattoos are commonly viewed as taboo, but really only by some (it should be noted here that the Recent Paterfamilias has tattoos of his own, so thusly he supposes that he might be referred to as the Tattooed Paterfamilias for the remainder of this column). In the opinion of the Tattooed (neĆ© Recent) Paterfamilias, we have become a tattooed culture, and they are not all simply tribal “tramp stamps” and ankle sunflowers and gang signs and whatnot. Take half a look at any NBA team. Or the barista who serves up the morning coffee. Or most people walking on the sidewalk. Or Johnny Depp.


Tattoo Superstitions.

Tattoo superstitions seem to run rampant, most notably amongst the particularly superstitious (a group in which, for better or worse, the Tattooed Paterfamilias proudly considers himself a member). Most people likely know someone who got a matching tattoo with someone else. That friend who, with her boyfriend of two weeks, got a matching Japanese symbol for poetry or purity or whatnot on her wrist, and then, what do you know, Poof! They break up. That guy who got the face of a girl he’s dating on his shoulder, and Poof! It’s done. The aforementioned Johnny Depp gets Winona Ryder’s name on his arm, and Poof! It’s over. All in all, it’s a fairly common phenomenon.

As has been mentioned in a previous Note From a Recent Paterfamilias, the Recent (also Tattooed) Paterfamilias is confident that the body art he got for his beloved dog Oscar, if not out rightly, then certainly circumstantially, caused said beloved Oscar to die an untimely death. He firmly believes this. It’s mystical. It’s supernatural. It’s uncanny. It’s unsettling. Whatever anyone may think, the tattoo was gotten, and then, two weeks later, Poof! Oscar was dead from a seemingly random, but highly debilitating condition called Thrombocytopenia. For the sensitive soul, it would give a person pause before making a similar mistake again.

So…I want to get a tattoo for my daughter. My wife says No. A definitive No. An emphatic No. Being superstitious people, we tend to worry about this sort of thing. The Tattooed Paterfamilias has even brought up this topic when in conversation with his tattoo artist (yes, the Paterfamilias has a regular guy down on the Lower East Side). He, the tattoo artist, thinks this is ridiculous. Not that he doesn’t believe in tattoo superstitions, quite the opposite, actually, it’s only that, according to him, the tattoo artist, no manner of superstition is going to cause a person not love their child, therefore, it, the tattoo, should be viewed only as a celebration of the life of the offspring. The Tattooed Paterfamilias is inclined to agree with this sentiment.

But a superstition is a superstition simply because a person is superstitious, and frankly, the Tattooed Paterfamilias is reluctant to trifle with that theory. If a baseball player puts on his left sock first or eats chicken everyday, and that works for him, then let him do it. If a law student uses a particular brand of pen, then so be it. If a bachelorette party stripper has a favorite thong, then leave it on under his police uniform. Much the same as superstitions, luck is believing you’re lucky, and if you think something is superstitious, then it is. It’s just the way of the world.

This opinion of the Tattooed Paterfamilias has been mocked, of course. “Superstitious tattoos? Tattoos that kill people, or dogs? Preposterous! If that were true, then somebody should’ve run out and gotten a picture of Stalin or Hitler or Count Dracula on their arm, and then Poof! two weeks later, they’d drop dead.”

So…the Recent Paterfamilias wishes to hear all thoughts. Is a tattoo of his daughter sure to be bad luck? Is he tempting the Fates or the Furies or whomever it is that spins the planet? Is it simply bad politics?

And in the interest of full disclosure and hopefully to illicit a more complete response, the Recent Paterfamilias will even enlighten his readers as to what tattoo he would like to get, should he ever get the ink for his infant offspring: a shiny teapot going off at the boil, because she, the baby, tends to get all hot and bothered and then make a lot of noise. (The Recent Paterfamilias is proud to say that the concept of this tattoo was pilfered nearly verbatim from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, the only major difference being that in the book it’s a samovar and not a teapot. Pompous enough for ya?)


  1. I'd say no, not because your idea of the whistling teapot doesn't sound great (it does) but because I'm a little superstitous, too. Make a T-shirt with the whistling teapot, or a manly leather bracelet with a silver teapot threaded through it with her initials engraved on it (I can draw that for you, if you like...). Skip the tattoo. And yes, definitely pompous enough. :-)

  2. Anonymous12:21

    I am not a fan of tatoos in general, but I have seen the Recent Paterfamilias in person and he has so many of them that I think it would be insulting NOT to get inked for his daughter. We are talking about a man who has a fried chicken tatoo as an homage to his Southern roots. So I say go for it. Otherwise, your daughter will grow up to think you loved pets and poultry more than you loved her. Also, when she gets to be eight or nine, it will be the perfect thing for her to brag about during recess ("MY dad is so cool he got a teapot tatoo for me!!!").

  3. Look, I like the idea. I really do. I'm not supersticious about them and don't think it will cause harm to come to your daughter.
    BUT. Your wife, the co-parent of your child says no. So, it's a no. Sorry. Because I really like the idea.

  4. CM has probably stated my opinion better than I could, but let's try... Wife says no? Then NO! What is the saying... If mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. As much as I like the idea of inking ones self, especially in celebration of your daughter, I might be inclined to follow the above mentioned saying. And pompous?... No way, didn't notice, not a bit.