Monday, September 22, 2014

Gator Ink

Here in the anteroom to eternity, we are awash with folks whose trendy body art from the millennium has drooped alarmingly.  We're law-abiders here, and no law demands so much of our baby boomer bodies as the law of gravity.  Florida is closer to the equator, you know, and gravity here pulls a bit harder on our hangy-down parts.  The place is lousy with long-long-long-stemmed roses, stretched-out dolphins, and ducks that have morphed into swans.  It's not often pretty.

I knew this would happen.  Back in the '00s, when my son returned from his fourth tour of duty - a dangerous year in Iraq - he sported a nicotine habit and a dragon inked across his chest and left shoulder.  In a rare moment of discretion, I decided not to comment on the smoking.  He was long grown and a war veteran, and I held my tongue about his addiction.  But I casually pointed out that gravity might have its way with his tattoo by the time he hit 60.

I immediately wished I had kept my arrant presumption to myself, and a quiet rift opened between us.  In truth, the dragon was beautifully rendered, subtly shaded and allowed to peek out coyly from an open collar or a short-sleeve shirt.  But what's said can't be unsaid, and I lived with it.

Fast-forward six months to Thanksgiving dinner.  Beers were consumed, times were good, and Erik was still smoking.  I had what seemed an inspiration at the time and announced that if he would quit smoking, I would get a tattoo.  I'm not sure what reaction I expected, but there was nothing.  Nothing at all.  I sensed I had jammed my foot still further into my mouth.  Oops.

Six more months passed, and we hosted a pool party on the deck, with Erik and his friends among the guests.  Beers were consumed and times were good.  One of Erik's co-workers struck up a conversation.  Then, from nowhere: "So, Mr. Newton, I hear you're getting a tattoo."

I have always been proud that I didn't miss a beat in my response.  "Yes," I said, "Yes I am."  I love simple declarative sentences.

Erik accompanied me to the tattoo parlor a few days later, not without a certain glee I think.  And I sat for a portrait on the back of my right shoulder.  I didn't need to worry how the tat would look when I was sixty - I was already on the cusp of that venerable age.

The design will be familiar to fans of M.C. Escher.  I think it's rather fetching.  And my relationship with my tobacco-free son has never been better.



  1. Oooooo you are brave! Did it hurt much? Congrats to your tobacco-free son too.

  2. Nah. We're manly men here. Pain means nothing.

  3. Hi Ev,
    Glad to see you posting again. Hop;e things are well and enjoyed both stories.
    Carl N.