Stop Needling Me!
Sometimes it's possible to accomplish something important by doing nothing at all. Well, actually, I did do something. I resisted. I think that counts. Here's my story.
Many of my friends have been getting pierced and tattooed for years. It's huge. Every neighborhood has at least one bodypiercing/bodyart place. Seems like they outnumber taverns these days. Naturally, they want me in on it.
"C'mon Mike," they say. "It's fun! It's addictive! What? Are you afraid of needles? The pain feels good! And when it's over, you have something to show for it!"
I find myself looking less and less like my friends because I'm not a human signboard for little animals, death, and calligraphic text. To compound the situation, I don't pick up the light in every room, reflecting off little pieces of metal everywhere. (And I do mean everywhere!) But I have a secret to share. I'll get to that shortly.
While they've been spending their paychecks on this hoopla, I've been quietly satisfied with myself, exactly as I am. I'm not suggesting my friends do it out of insecurity. Some do, obviously, but many got started because their parents told them not to. I'm no momma's boy, but I'd like to know what kind of a reason is that?
People are not packrats. OK, that's not true. I am a packrat. I keep way too much stuff. But that's not really what I mean. I'm talking about the fact that packrats are known to trade an item in their pack for ever-shinier objects. I do it too, but the one that kicks me is how my friends trade fifty dollar bills for yet another shiny piece of metal, or yet another patch of scribbled skin.
Now, before anyone thinks I'm complaining, let me point out that I believe in freedom to choose, and if that makes them happy, I'm not going to stop them. What? Like they'd listen to me? I'm the prude with no tattoo, remember? How would I know what it's like?
From my point of view, I don't need to find out. I don't think it's necessary to be a slave to the idea of trying everything once. Some things I don't feel the need to try.
Lately, some of my friends have found that their obsession is working against them. I'm still single with no kids, but many of my friends are either married or are single parents. And that's where the difficulty comes in.
Some of my friends have kids that are between six and nine years old. About that age, kids start noticing their parents a little more as people. They look at them differently than they did when they were infants. Mostly, because kids grow up incredibly fast today. Much faster than when we were kids, so they notice things quicker too. Lately what they've been noticing is mom and dad's tattoos and piercings.
A woman at work told me just last week that she has no idea how to convince her nine-year-old daughter why she won't take her to the parlor and get her tongue pierced, "just like mommy."
So here's my secret. I have resisted tattoos and piercing because I believe in being a natural person. I think the metal and the ink only serve to detract from the outer beauty of my friends and it does nothing to enhance their inner person. So I see no reason to use my body for someone's canvas.
Friends can be so myopic. They don't want to see their kids all boogered up because they see their kids as beautiful exactly as they are, but they hold themselves to a double standard. They continue to encourage me to get some bodyart and I continue to resist.
Why am I such a holdout? Do I really fear the needle? No, of course not. I'm the one who used to play with clothing pins and sewing needles, pushing them through the tops of my knuckles like a juvenile Freddy Krueger. I also used to do the infamous sewing-needle-shoved-through-the-flexed-arm trick. The difference is, it was just play to me, and I wasn't trying to make a fashion statement.
I simply have a philosophy that says a person needs to stick to their values and not give in to peer pressure. Piercing and tattoos have led my friends to nothing but empty pocketbooks and hard questions from their kids.
Maybe I'll go to work one day with needles through all my fingers like I did in school. That'll show 'em!
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Michael Breckenridge has worn many hats in the media business. See his latest creation, an office joke and entertainment website called Spread Negativity at www.spreadnegativity.com