Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fog City

For some reason my attention span, my due diligence, my ability to concentrate, have been under attack. My will power has mysteriously abandoned me. I've done some soul searching, and analyzing daily habits or lack of, and have come to the conclusion, social media and it's addicting capacity, is the very culprit. I've been spending unnecessary amounts of time wandering in cyber space. For what? Not very much indeed. A lot of trivia, some useful, most not. An overwhelming amount of depressing politics, and entertainment news that I can't even relate to. I need to step back, push away, set down the iPhone, and go to the book store for long delayed purchases, and write, here.

50 years! A long time right? I look around and one social phenomenon trending for quite awhile now, is tattoo art, or ink. The reason I've pondered ink, is I've witnessed the evolution, or devolution, of this form of personal statement. Which I find, certainly from a distance, indecipherable, but sometimes attractive. Why would I care, well I have a tattoo. It is a daily reminder of a time etched in my memory. A time of rebellion, a time of stress, a time of upheaval, a time of aloneness, experiencing the rawness of life. A time of actions without regard for consequences, and there were many. One such reckless act was drinking beer as a teenager, in a car full of buddies, riding around at night, trying hopelessly to impress each other. Well it seems we were impressing a police cruiser, who happened to be following us. As we turned a corner, the only recourse was to hurl a six pack of beer out the window. Needless to say that ploy didn't save us from detection, as the cops saw what happened, and immediately flashed their lights, and hit the siren, pulling us over. Busted! Well this was the first step in getting a tattoo.

Naturally I was arrested, detained and charged with possession of alcohol as a minor. I was 17, a senior in high school, but had, I thought undeservedly, in the eyes and attitudes of the authority, a reputation as a juvenile delinquent. Needless to say I was made an example, to deter other potential delinquents, and received the rather harsh sentence, of 90 days in the county jail. One education was ending and another was beginning. The finality of a jail cell door clanging shut, requires an immediate mental adjustment. At 17 I learned stoicism and silence were tools needed to guard against chaos. I settled in and watched. After some time, a gregarious character approached and asked if I wanted a tattoo. I was aware, jail and the military were the only places tattoos were accepted and encouraged. I asked questions about the method, and he told me it was simple enough. Wrap a wad of thread around the point of needle, and dip it in a small bottle of India ink. He would then dab the needle point into my arm repeatedly. Time consuming for sure, but we had plenty of that.

What should it be? I didn't know, but common in jail houses were the usual: mom, a girl friend's name, born to lose, different numbers, hearts, assorted simplistic ink, vacant of any intellectual depth. Since I was at rock bottom and didn't give damn, I chose born to lose. And since marijuana or refer madness, was associated with outcasts and delinquents, the number 13 was added. You see M is the 13th letter of the alphabet. Jail house mentality at it's finest. So I sat there day after day, while he poked at my arm. I felt I was sitting for a portrait. Only my tattoo would last longer.  Do I regret it, sure, it's one of many regrets. When I shuffle off this mortal coil, who really cares. On the balance sheet of life I've gained far more than I ever lost.