The Tattooed Lady

This little article is written for humor but it contains a lot of truth as well. It is not my normal kind of blog but I hope you enjoy it. I’m sure some will not like it but that doesn’t take away from the humor and truth of it.

I remember when I was a teenager, my friends and I would go to the County Fair in October of each year. It was a glorious time of fun and entertainment. The display area was always of special interest even to the younger generation of those days. Displays of foods, products and art works abounded as well as those advertising various services of local businesses. School clubs and social organizations had prepared very attractive booths that extolled the virtues of their clubs. Ladies from far and wide prepared all kinds of culinary delicacies. Sweet pickles, canned beans, preserved peaches and many other things were on display. Some had a blue ribbon on them and others proudly proclaimed their position in the prize taking.

But, the real fun was on the outside. Many times we young people had to endure all the displays before getting to the real fun. Anyone who has ever been to a county fair can attest to the many and varied rides which someone had concocted to spin you around, up and down and sideways until one felt they were going to lose all the days edibles. Back in those days, I could ride any ride at the fair and then go for another round. The Tilt-a-Whirl nor the Rocket were any match for me and my buddies. Today, I get a woozy feeling just looking at them. Time changes things.

Once, a friend of mine, Jackie Renew and I went to the Georgia Coastal Fair in the evening. On the way there, we passed the spot in the “Y” of US Highway 82 and Hwy 319. A man was usually there pressing the juice out of stalks of cane. The poor old mule would go round and round all day doing his duty. A large iron kettle was continuously boiling with the cane juice being made into syrup. It was delicious. One could also buy a cup of cane juice which was very, very sweet. A little went a long way! On our way to the fair that evening, Jackie said, “let’s go get us some cane juice.” I wanted a small cup of that sweet nectar, but Jackie bought a quart! And, he drank it on the way to the fair! Once there we decided to ride the “Rocket”. Now, this thing was shaped like a bullet on both ends with each end spinning left or right independently of the other. While this was happening, the whole two ended bullet thing would spin round and round while the whole arm of the machine had you going in a big vertical circle. It was totally disorienting. Well...we had it going full force when Jackie used a very descriptive term as he said…”I think I’m gonna puke.” I thought oh, no...not now! I said, “wait till I get this thing spinning in the other direction and then let it fly!” I wanted to direct it all away from me if possible. So, Jackie “let it fly.” He looked like a geyser. As a matter of fact, I thought he resembled Old Faithful! He emptied that whole quart of cane juice into the cool night air. When the ride stopped we were both gleefully delighted and as we exited the “bullet”, I heard a woman say to her little boy: “Let’s hurry and get on this thing son, I think it’s gonna rain. I felt some drops just a minute ago.” Last time I checked it doesn’t rain cane juice. I know what she felt. It wasn’t rain, but it rhymed with it.

A little farther down the midway, in fact right at the end, were the weirdo shows. You had to pay extra to get in those. The bearded lady, the fat lady, the smallest midget in the world and a variety of other things were offered. But, one of the weirdest and most interesting was the Tattooed Lady. When she would come out to tease the crowd to buy a ticket, everyone would say, “Good Lord, why in the world would anyone want to do that to themselves.” “You can’t get that stuff off.” “Suppose you got tired of it and wanted to get it off.” “She’s got the only job she could ever have.” “Who in the world would hire someone looking like a living page out of a coloring book?” Now, I had seen men returning from the Second World War with a tattoo on their arm. Most of these men came from service in the Pacific theater where tattooing was a long accepted activity. Most of those tattoos said: “Mother”, or they had the name of a man’s wife or girlfriend (which ain’t smart) and others had a ship’s anchor on their forearm like Popeye the Sailor Man. But, ALL over them??? Never saw one like that on these fellows. In fact, I have heard many of these men decry the fact that they had ever put even one small tattoo on themselves. “If I had it to do over again, I would not do it”, is the resounding lament.

But I visited the mall recently. My soul, there are people walking around in the mall with tattoos ALL over them. The fad seems to be a “sleeve” or maybe two of them. This is when one has tattoos all the way from the shoulder to where the cuff of a long sleeve shirt would be. When I saw my first person with a sleeve, I thought they had been injured or something or that they had a serious skin birth defect. I felt sorry for them until I discovered that it was all a giant tattoo. Then, the women started showing up with them. They started off with some small tattoo at the base of their spine. Usually a butterfly or maybe a scorpion. Never could figure that one out! Then the girls slowly morphed into walking body art. They seem to go farther than the guys. I can’t fathom why a nice looking girl would tattoo her body with all kinds of artwork in a plethora of colors. The artwork is no longer just in blue or black lines these days. Vivid colors are the rage. Initially, the number of people who had all this body art were fairly few and far between. But, now just about everyone has something tattooed somewhere. It ain’t pretty I don’t care what anyone says. It just ain’t pretty. It is a public display of just how drunk or high on dope a person can get from time to time. Another weird thing is that a lot of the guys put a tattoo on the back of their calf or on their back itself. An eagle with its wings spread so that they touch the shoulders. My soul, you would have to be a contortionist to see it there. And why the Chinese writing? People here generally speak English and if they don’t, Hispanics don’t know Chinese either. A person has to go around continually telling people what their tattoo is saying. Looks cool, but people can’t read it. Then, if tattoos are for viewing, why does a young woman put one on the back of her neck? Now THAT’S really cool and smart! I guess she believed her mother when she said, “I have eyes in the back of my head.” Or how about behind the ear…maybe a small star or something? Looks like a tick to me. Also, a word to our black friends: News can’t see your tattoos. Your skin is dark and the dark blue ink gets lost. It’s a shame for you to spend so much money on your tattoos and then no one can make out what they are. To be honest they look like a big bruise on your skin. You can’t make out the design without studying it real closely and most of the time, that doesn’t even work. If I were you I think I would use another color other than dark blue. I think I would use yellow or orange or green; some color that will show up on the dark background of your skin tone.

My wife, Carolyn and I were sitting in the mall recently and a pretty young lady walked by with a snowflake tattooed on her chest. Now, have you noticed that all these girls in particular want to wear clothes which display their tattoos? Some need to go put something on! Forget about the tattoo! You might get arrested for public indecency. Now that I think about it, that’s hardly a problem in this crazy society. Well, anyway, she had this snowflake in the center of her chest with the clothes to show it off. When she walked by I told Carolyn that that snowflake was going to look like a spider web in about thirty years. I saw another just recently with a colorful flower blossom on her chest. In fact, Carolyn had said...”Just look at this coming right here.” Now, the flower was well done. It was red with beautiful green stems all around it. I mentioned to Carolyn that in about forty years it is going to look like it needs watering! Fertilizer too! Women love to tattoo a bracelet around their ankle. It’s called an anklet. Alert ladies!!! It looks like a tattoo and not an anklet. Why not just get a nice piece of jewelry you can pass on to your daughter. And, by the way, you can take it off when you want to. Anklets don’t look good with everything. I can’t believe that some women have their eyebrows tattooed on. I guess so they will no longer have to pluck them. I read an article not long ago about some women having their eye shadow tattooed on. What is it going to look like in years to come when it fades out into the skin as most tattoos will? They will look like someone gave them a black eye. Then, they will start putting on eye shadow that is skin colored, I guess. I tell you it’s out of hand. It’s just out of hand.

Yes, the Tattooed Lady at the Georgia Coastal Plains Fair has nothing on these gals. And, what one used to have to pay an extra fifty cents to see, they can see for free almost anywhere today. The Tattooed Lady wouldn’t even turn a head today. Not tattooed enough! I think it all speaks to the fact that we are living in the Age of Excess. When is enough, enough...of anything? People don’t know when to stop at anything these days. We have an over indulgent society. Every kind of excess is considered normal. The human being is incapable of being satisfied. They have always got to go further the next time than they did the time before or they will get bored. It looks like anyone would be able to look at what they are creating with all this tattooing and say, “this is enough”, “I don’t need any more of this.” But it seems that people have lost the ability to govern themselves concerning just about any indulgent activity. If we brought back the Tattooed Lady, she would be applauded today for her restraint and good taste. She would set some kind of standard for common sense and decency. Never thought I would be saying that but she just couldn’t compete today. Too reserved. Boringly unimaginative. Go to the mall. Enjoy the free show!!!

And, by the way...I have scripture for my thoughts. Leviticus 19:28. Might do people good if they would read it!

William F. Harrell

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