Aliens, Butterflies and Conan O'Brien

I saw something that I wish I could erase from my mind, but I can’t. Some things get into your brain through your eyes and that’s it. They’re there forever.

Like when I read American Psycho. I had heard all this crazy stuff about this book, how the author was getting death threats from otherwise harmless old church ladies for writing such a sick, disgusting collection of weirdness. I wanted to read it. My literature adviser, my childhood friend Rick in Chicago, told me not to. “Diane, when you read it, you’ll get really bad stuff in your head and you won’t be able to get it back out again. You’ll be sorry you read it.”

He was right, of course. I could have lived very happily not having read American Psycho, but since I did, I now have, as part of my brain and memory package, some images I can’t get rid of. They come to the surface every time I go to an Asian dry cleaner. Or see a guy in a really nice suit. Or read about a serial killer torturing and killing women.

So when I came across the book No Regrets: The Best, Worst & Most #$%*ing Ridiculous Tattoos Ever, I knew I should have just walked away. But I had to click it open and oh my god, this one guy had an alien tattooed to the back of his head. And oh MY GOD this guy had skeleton makeup permanently tattooed to his face. OH MY GOD! There’s a unicorn smoking a cigarette! Can they even do that?

Facial tattoos and the thought that one of my kids could get one is on my Top 10 Things I Fear. It ranks right under Nuclear Bomb and Choking on a Garbanzo Bean Again, but just above The Internet Getting Full.

I didn’t see the actual book, just the Amazon teaser pages. They include:

a tattoo of Patrick Swayze in the sleeveless tux from his SNL skit at a Chippendale audition, except he has the lower body of a horse. And there are rainbow streamers floating around him. That’s a special combination of drunk and gay there.

Conan O’Brian’s face.

Bob Barker.

Bald Britney. (Even she let her hair grow back.)

A pair of women’s legs in fishnets placed strategically in a place so that. . . I can’t even tell you. You’re going to have to get the book or look it up online.

Why does this rank right up there with a book about a serial killer who sits in a corner office thinking up ways to torture women with rats? Because these tattoos are real. And real people got them. They aren’t the imagination of a writer. And those real people are out there, and chances are pretty good most of them are living in Florida, which seems to be a magnet for weird misfits. And one of them could come to my door one day and say, “Is your daughter home?”

Yes, she is home. But did you hear that thump? She just fell unconscious with the fear of what her father is going to do when he finds out you came here asking for her. It would be small consolation that the facial tattoo is anything but a swastika on the forehead.

What’s wrong with henna? What did henna ever do to you? And how about those rub-on tattoos? They look amazingly real, right up until they start to peel off. I had a Speed Racer tattoo on my wrist that lasted for about six weeks once. For about the same amount of money that you would give Squirly to carve a Tasmanian Devil into your calf, you could buy a bunch of boxes of rub-on tattoos and just put one on every day after your shower. That way, when you sobered up, grew up and realized that Taz is making your legs look fat or it doesn’t go with your grandmother-of-the-bride dress, you could just stop rubbing them on.

Tattoo enthusiasts say that the permanence of the tattoo is the point. You have to love something, make a commitment to it, and stand behind it 100 percent to have the cojones to pay someone to decorate you with it.

So why don’t I want to get a tattoo? I turned 50 this year. This would have been a great time to get a little butterfly on my one shoulder that doesn’t have enough freckles to match the other one. I love butterflies. I’m committed to loving them probably until I die.

Maybe it’s because I don’t like permanence. I had a hard time switching from pencil to pen in seventh grade. I’ve never lived in the same house for more than four years of my adult life. One of my hobbies is rearranging furniture. And I’ve been accused of losing things because I get tired of them.

There’s no losing a butterfly on your shoulder. Or a chess board on your face.

Or a "Foxy Lady" on your lower back.

Labels: , , , , , , ,