There are people in this city who look at tattoo guns and say to themselves, “Yes, I want that to drill images into my cheek.”
Clearly, these people need more career options.
I mean, I was a 5-year-old once, too. I think I understand why someone would want to draw on their own face. When I was a kid, I tried drawing a Ninja Turtle on my cheek.
It didn’t look great, but even as a 5-year-old, I understood that I could eventually scrub it off.
Not so with a face tattoo.
But it seems a face tattoo is still edgy in a world where tattoos have lost their edge.
Everyone has tattoos now. It’s not like back when the guy with the most tattoos was also the toughest guy in the room.
In fact, I don’t think I can count more than five friends of mine from the neighborhood who don’t have “F-Town” or “Kenzo” etched somewhere onto their skin.
In the past, really crazy people would get sleeves of ink from their wrist up to their armpit. It made a statement and let others know that these were guys (and girls) you didn’t want to mess with.
But now, tattoos are so common, even my mom has one.
In fact, I’m the only member of my immediate family who doesn’t have one. If my grandmother rolled up with a shamrock tattooed on her forearm, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.
Everyone, even church ladies around here, seem to be rocking ink.
Eons ago, we were told not to get any tattoos that you couldn’t cover up, because no employer would hire you. That doesn’t apply anymore, especially if the guy interviewing you has the anarchy “A” sketched on his left hand.
With tattoos being accepted into the mainstream, there’s only one place left to get an edgy tattoo: your face.
What was once reserved for Japanese Yakuza, Central American gangsters and segments of the prison population has been adopted by the rest of our tattoo-wearing society.
But let me say this: It doesn’t matter if the tattoo artist could recreate a perfect rendition of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, because if that art is going to be permanently etched on your face, it will look stupid.
I don’t want to hear about cultural differences or whatever. If you can’t use your better judgment and walk away before paying to have an ink-filled needle within striking distance of your eyes, you’re monumentally brain-dead.
But rarely are artists’ masterpieces used as the inspiration for face tattoos.
Instead, I’ve seen other prominent selections, and I’ve a few thoughts on their meanings:
Money bags: For gentlemen likely to spend the few pennies they do have at the commissary in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road.
Star clusters: Usually seen placed around the ears of females who are unlikely to wear anything other than pajama pants in public.
Phillies logo: This is a popular one. Look for it right above the nose bridge to see someone taking “hopping on the bandwagon” to a whole new level.
Roses: These are often found on the cheek, with the thorny stem snaking down the side of the neck (often terrifyingly close to the jugular vein). I’ve seen this almost exclusively on the knuckleheads who’ll try to sell illegal chemicals at various El stops in the neighborhood. Nothing says “I’m a gangster” like rose petals.
Now, I don’t like to generalize or paint with broad strokes. I know a few pretty scary-looking guys who are actually some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
But, by and large, folks with face tattoos aren’t the kind of people you’d want your grandmother meeting on a dark and deserted alleyway — even if she has tattoos herself.
If you have a face tattoo and you’re offended by anything I’ve said here, maybe you should have done what I did when I was 5 years old: Before you get that “fiery-skull-wearing-a-hoodie” tattoo inked permanently onto your forehead, draw it on there with an erasable marker.
If the people who see it don’t recoil in horror, then by all means, make it permanent.
But, even then, you just might want to put some money aside in advance for laser-removal surgery. ••
Riverward Rants reflects the opinions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown resident, area native and writer of the Web site PhillyNeighbor.com, where he makes cynical (and uncensored) comments about life in the riverwards. He can be reached at JQuig1984@gmail.com