The Tattoo

Arian Knops

The Tattoo

2 min.,
September 14, 2021

I have no tattoos.  I say this proudly because I believe of all of man’s creations tattoos are the most lasting mark of people who want to define their ordinary lives as something out of the ordinary. In reality, it shows a bit of stupidity.  Think about it, you get a tattoo of a salamander on your arm because you want to be different.  Ten years later you are down on your luck, take your child’s toy gun, and decide to rob a convenience store wearing a Richard Nixon mask.

Any identifying marks or tattoos on the perpetrator?”

asks the cop when he interviews the clerk.

Yeah,” says the clerk, “the guy had this big salamander tattooed on his left forearm. I’ve seen tigers, cuss words, knives and a bunch of other things on people’s arms, but never before a salamander. I wondered if this guy was some special nut or some special sort of stupid.”

Two months later, it is mid-summer, your financial situation has improved, and you’re in line at McDonalds with a muscle shirt on buying lunch when the big old cop who interviewed the store clerk spots you in line without the Nixon mask, but still sporting the salamander tattoo. You now become a guest of the state making license plates for two years mainly because you were stupid enough to get a salamander tattoo and also forgot to dispose of your Nixon mask which the police found under a floor mat in your car.

I will admit that I’ve seen some tasteful and genuinely artistic tattoos, but I’ve seen many more that are something less than magnificent pieces of art. I’ll only describe two. The first of these was at my brother-in-law’s wedding.  First of all, my new sister-in-law was from a family of less than stellar quality. And, for all intents, the manner of dress, or more accurately undress her sisters, mother, girl cousins and female friends showed up in they, more than likely, shortly after the wedding were heading to a hooker convention. Cleavage was abundantly shown. One of the bimbos had a tattoo on her left breast of Lake Superior and a word tattooed on her right breast that I was unable to read. Not wanting to stare, but curious none the less I asked one of my teenaged nieces to saunter by the babe and see what it said.

The young lady did as I asked and came back to the table smiling. “It says only one word,” she said, “Enjoy”.  Rather thought-provoking, but certainly not on my bucket list.

Fifty-five years ago, when I was in the Navy and stationed in Mississippi many times we would head to New Orleans for the weekend and do some serious partying. My pal Don had a fifty-three Chevy and offered to drive and being a tee-totaling Baptist, also offered to be the designated driver if we bought his food and gasoline. He knew for certain that the rest of the gang just wanted to get drunk for the weekend.

A weekend came when I was scheduled to work so I didn’t go along. From what I was told later one person mentioned he wanted to get a tattoo and one of the other idiots, my skydiving pal Harry, mind slightly warped by alcohol, thought that it sounded like a good thing to do. Don, the Baptist, declined since he didn’t think it proper to desecrate his body.

On Sunday evening they arrived back at our base and the morons were all showing off their tattoos and I admit all were quite tasteful. Harry’s was on his left arm and was this big red heart with an arrow through it and a banner across the heart with a name in it. Harry was the boisterous type when he’d been drinking and called me a pansy or a wimp for not having a tattoo.

Harry,” I said, “I’ve got a question for you.  Your wife’s name is Joan, right?”
Yeah, so what of it?” replied my inebriated friend.
So, Harry, who is this woman Mary whose name you have tattooed on your arm in place of Joanie’s?” I asked.

The stunned look on his face was one that is hard to describe. He checked, through alcohol blurred eyes and sure as heck “Mary” was centered on the ribbon. Two weeks later he went back to New Orleans and had the entire ribbon blacked out.  Harry died this spring and I doubt he ever told his wife about his little mistake.

This article was orginally reported by
Arian Knops

Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.