Life is short. Remember Hervé Villechaize? He was short and he provided the always mysterious, well-placed comedic relief, as the eye-winking little man on the Saturday night television melodrama, Fantasy Island. Every forty-something-year-old remembers his taller and wiser boss, Mr. Roarke! They were a handsome pair all decked out in their late 70s version of classy, white three-piece suits. Hervé was just too adorable with his doll-like appearance. Tattoo, they called him, a little Polynesian sidekick forever in the shadow of his handsome leading actor.
“De plane! De plane!” Tattoo would cry out from the mansion on the cliff, in his squeaky voice, as he pointed with a chubby little finger to the next unsuspecting … soul searching … treasure hunting … love-starved visitors to this magical island, that isn’t on any map I’ve ever seen. I looked. It’s nowhere on the map.
Tattoo was, up to my pre-teen years, one of my first experiences with the concept that everyone doesn’t look like me, talk like me, or walk like me. To all of those parents out there today, present company included, who go about diligently censoring their kid’s television diets, I might interject here, that I may very well have developed this all important knowledge of self from this controversial medium. Just food for thought.
Given my limited exposure at that age, I gave little thought to a “Tattoo” as being anything more than an oftentimes humorous, sometimes comically philosophical television character. By the time I was eighteen, however, I’d seen and experienced a bit more of my world around me. Enough, in fact, that on a side trip to visit my aunt and uncle in Los Angeles, I’d had it in my head that this might be the perfect timing for me to get a tattoo of my own, to which I recall my uncle stating very matter of factly, “Not on my watch! I don’t care how old you are! Your mother would never forgive me!”
Fortunately for me, at this point in my life, I understood this much …
A) That it is not legal OR morally justified in any way to aspire to own another person.
B) That I wouldn’t know where to keep him, if indeed, I could somehow stow Tattoo away in my carry on luggage! Wasn’t that every girl’s dream at that age? (Yep, I did just say that out loud.)
C) That perhaps one day I would thank my uncle for sticking to his guns, but that at that moment I wanted nothing more than what I was being told I could not have.
And … D) That a tattoo is not a real person, but merely an outward expression of one’s own soul. Even if it is, Calvin … pissing on a Chevy … plastered onto a walking billboard … in a three color representation that spreads out as you do … till you are dead … dead … dead!
But then, my preferences lie in the more subtle nuance of tribal art. The key word here is of course, preference, the definition of which is, to lay claim to the right or the power or the opportunity of one’s own opinion.
I officially joined the diverse ranks of the tattooed, not as the defiant teenager or as the radical miscreant, or even as the body art enthusiast, but rather, as a forty-year-old on the edge of a mid-life crisis … experienced childbirth, but still chicken when it comes to sharp pointy things touching my body … old enough to know better … but still young enough to not give a rat’s behind what other people think … kinda girl.
My decision to forever seal my fate as the “one who now sits on the Group W bench (Arlo Guthrie reference) with the rest of the riff-raff” is one that I have no regrets following through with. I wake up every day, look just below my pinkie toe and think to myself, “Life is short … Life is good … Live it!”
I find it interesting, in a microscope on humanity sort of way, how society often dictates what is an acceptable means of self-expression, and what is deemed somehow as the moral decline of civilization. If nothing else, I would think history itself has shown us how dangerous it can be for a people or a nation to blindly follow the path of someone’s deluded ideals, as a means of self-preservation.
I could write a spiraling diatribe on the perils of non-conformity in a conventional, narrow-minded, fear-driven society, but I won’t. Because I know that it is simply instinct. It is our human nature to want to classify, and therefore identify what is safe, in an effort to protect ourselves and our progeny; even if it means running the risk of losing our own identity in the process.
I see it as our obligation, as the free spirits that we were born to be, to lay claim to our own self-worth.
Our similarities, as a people, emphasize our unity. But, it is our individuality and our own self-expression of it, which breathes harmony into our existence.