For my money, there’s no prettier place on earth than Hawaii. We were lucky enough to spend the past two weeks there, resting in the sun and taking in all of the gorgeous scenery. Day after day, we’d relax on the beach and gaze lazily at the tropical paradise surrounding us. The towering mountains, the lush rain forests, the swaying palm trees.
The back tattoos.
After being forced to look at upwards of 5,000 vacationers in various forms of skin-baring swimwear, I am now convinced that my husband Chris and I are the only people on earth who don’t have some sort of body art. This isn’t because we don’t like tattoos. We do. Like them. Ive just never wanted one of my own.
There are a few reasons for this. First, I scream bloody murder whenever I accidentally get Crayola marker on my hand, so I probably wouldn’t do so great with the needle action. Second, unlike marriage, a tattoo is a life-long commitment. How do I know that what I get inked on my body now will still be something I like in 30 years? Our former babysitter, Abby, got her favorite Norwegian band’s name lettered on her skin when she was in college, and had I done the same thing when I was 19, I’d now be the jackass walking around my subdivision with “Wang Chung” on her back. Not so chic, that.
And finally, while I definitely think it’s hip to get a tattoo of a word written in Chinese letters on your body, I don’t actually read Chinese, so how am I to know that my arm doesn’t really say “Serenity,” but instead says, “No MSG!” or “Princess Douchebag” on it? I’d be the laughingstock of Chinatown.
Anyway, while 90% of the tattoos we saw on the beach were really cool, like the buff Hawaiian surfers with their Maori or Polynesian tribal marks, and the women with their subtle flowers and cute, little dolphins, there were a few noticeable exceptions. Most of them being the pasty white vacationers who’d just arrived from the mainland, and couldn’t wait to peel off their Ed Hardy t-shirts and trucker hats and let it all hang loose aloha-style.
One day, we were neighbors with a skinny, goateed guy who had a rather crude, full-sized Confederate flag on his back that looked like it was the work of the chief tat artist in Chino State prison. Most of the time, he stayed passed out on his NASCAR beach towel getting a third degree sunburn, but every once in a while, he’d suddenly spring to life and treat his fellow beach goers to a little show by undulating his back and yelling, “Do y’all see my mother*&in’ flag wavin’? Well do ya, bitches? How cool is that shit? Damn, people!” Then he’d grab his crotch and crash onto his towel again. It was like the island version of “Hee-Haw.”
Another day, there was an older woman in front of us who had a back tattoo of what appeared to be a vampire and a werewolf fighting each other. “Too bad she can’t grow hair on her back,” Chris said as we watched her rub sunscreen on Dracula’s cape. “Cause that’d make the werewolf look much more authentic.”
Then there was the woman who had a tat of her spinal column—-on her spinal column. Our only theory about her was that maybe she has a really stupid chiropractor.
Finally, on our last day of vacation, we saw the mother lode of back tattoos. Seriously, this guy was a load. At least 6’ 5” tall, upwards of 400 pounds and bald as a cue ball. We watched in wonder as he stomped over to his patch of beach, his enormous feet shooting waves of sand at everyone he passed. Once he got to his spot, he grunted, yelled a few obscenities to his kids, and then immediately stripped off his shirt. We tried hard not to stare, but right away we noticed that he had two tattooed words directly above his butt crack. “What’s that say?” I asked Chris.
“Um, I believe it says ‘Exit Only’ with an arrow pointing down to his ass,” he muttered with a strange look on his face. “Please don’t make me look again. My eyes are watering.”
“Okay, fine,” I said. “Only I’m not sure if ‘Exit Only’ is good news or not.”
“Trust me,” Chris whispered back as we watched the hairy man bend over to put down his beach mat, thereby giving us a complete eyeful of his many, many charms. “It’s good news. I know if I had an ass the size of a Costco loading dock, I’d probably get that written on my back, too. I mean, God knows how many times someone’s tried to shove a case of bulk mayonnaise in there. A man’s gotta protect himself.”
“That’s true,” I said, shielding my eyes with my US Magazine while Mr. Exit started doing lunges. “It’s both decorative and practical.”
Now that our vacation’s over and we’re back home in Texas, I haven’t seen even one back tattoo parading around. Strangely enough, I actually kind of miss them. So that’s why I’m thinking that maybe tomorrow, I’ll muster up the courage and go get “MANILOW’ tattooed on my back. After all, I’m sure that’s something I’d never regret.