Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Tattoo Post That Wasn't: A Parable

Regular readers of Tattoosday are privy to the successes.  I’ve had people ask me, “Has anyone ever said no?” and “You actually get people to say yes?”

I quietly marked Tattoosday’s eighth anniversary a couple weeks ago and, I will crow, I consider myself an expert at interviewing people about their tattoos. I pick and choose wisely. I don’t ask everyone I see. I have a method to my madness and it has surprising results. I don’t get rejected very often and, when I do, I’m bailing out early so it doesn’t feel like TOTAL rejection.

However, I have a handful of tales to tell. I will start with a very recent encounter. My wife Melanie and I were shopping at Rite Aid. I can already tell you, by the time Melanie pointed out the guy with the guitar player on his calf, I had already dismissed two other potential subjects in the store, so I already felt that this guy, well, he was there for me to interview.

He was an older gentleman – this coming from a 48-year old, so he may have been 52, or 58, I didn’t ask. And there, on the outer side of his right calf, was a portrait of a rock guitarist.

I introduced myself, showed him a Tattoosday flyer and the gentleman gave preliminary consent for me to photograph his tattoo when he asked, “Do you know who it is?” I drew a blank. It was a cool tattoo but I figured I would ask him about it after I snapped the picture.

“Um,” I stammered. My brain was cycling through a list of guitarists.

“I tell you what,” the guy said, “If you can tell me who it is, I’ll let you take a picture. If not, no dice.”

“Is it one of the Ramones?”  I asked, hoping I was right, but knowing I was wrong.

“He’s British,” the man told me, “giving me an unsolicited hint.

“Iggy Pop?” I took a stab in the dark, knowing he wasn’t British, but I couldn’t think of any British guitarists who were pre-NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) and it wasn’t Tommy Iommi or Jimmy Page.

I stood there like an idiot while he continued to look at the cookies he was handling before I so rudely interrupted him.

“Sorry,” he said, “Good luck.” And he turned away, having lost interest in and, in all likelihood, respect for me.

I know when a battle is lost, so I slumped my shoulders in defeat. “Can you at least tell me who it is?” I pleaded.

“Jeff Beck” he said, barely affording me a glance as I realized my mistake. “At least,” I thought, walking away, “I know who Jeff Beck is.”

Alas, dear readers, you shall not see a Jeff Beck tattoo anytime soon in these hallowed pages. 

Honestly, it wasn’t that great a tattoo anyway, but you know, if I ever see that guy again, I’ll be asking why he has a Jeff Beck tattoo on his leg. Until then, I can only wonder.

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