Face tattoos: Always uncool

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

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