Flesh Wounds

Tattoos And Triple-Digit IQs Don't Mix.

IF RIP VAN Winkle were to awaken today from a 20-year slumber, he would probably make these observations:

1. The Bible had a typo. It should have read, "The geek shall inherit the Earth."

2. The feminist movement spawned some surprising results, including:

· an unexpected backlash among women;

· Title IX;

· an odd juxtaposition wherein women now get tattoos and men wear earrings.

Oh sure, there's that equal pay for equal work thing, but that's hardly fodder for a column. Hey, speaking of which, remember when the argument against that was that men play best-of-five sets while women only play best-of-three? Well, try to find me a sports fan today who watches men's tennis. Gay men don't even watch men's tennis!

This is definitely one instance where the women have triumphed in the marketplace.

I'm talking about quietly efficient Lindsey Davenport, Scary Mary Pierce, the Williams sisters (without their crazy-ass dad, who apparently communicates daily with the folks on the planet Meldar), Martina Hingis, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and all the rest.

But we're not here today to discuss women's tennis. We're here to do something about that tattoo thing.

Taking extra care not to overstate my case here, I think I speak for all men living, dead, and those yet to be born when I say that in the matter of tattoos on women, I quote the immortal Martin Lawrence in saying: "That s--t don't look good."

(Actually, that may be a tad broad. There may be one or two guys wearing Harley-Davidson shirts stretched dangerously--and in vain--over their 68-inch guts and their nine strands of hair tied pathetically into a scraggly little ponytail who probably find tattooed women to be real mamas. But make no mistake about it--the number of guys who find tattooed women appealing is about equal to the number of natural teeth each one of these guys still has in his mouth.)

Let me be clear here. We're almost into the 21st century. Women can do whatever they want. But why they would want to get tattoos is anybody's guess. They don't look good. Ever. On anybody. Not the butterfly on the ankle. Not the birdie on the shoulder. Not the barbed wire on the bicep.

And yet, tattoos are popping up all over the place. It's like when we were all busy watching that Elián Gonzales thing, an epidemic of Stupid swept over the country.

If you listen really closely, you'll be able to hear some woman, somewhere, say that she didn't get a tattoo for others to see; she got it for herself. If you believe that, you can go stand in line with the two women (and Boy George) who said the same thing about makeup. Besides, if you're built like most women, you're not going to have a whole lot of opportunities to see a butterfly on your own ankle.

Furthermore, while the ugliness of today's tattoos is unquestioned, try to imagine the situation 20 years from now, about 19-and-a-half years after the fad dies away. On the original Bob Newhart Show, Bob's secretary, Carol, had to have surgery once. In her younger days, she had had a butterfly tattooed on her bottom. But then she lost 100 pounds, and what once had been a butterfly now looked like a raisin.

Experience teaches us that while Carol's weight-loss situation was funny, in real life the trend will be in the opposite direction. What was once a dainty butterfly on the ankle of a young girl will, in 20 years, be a bloated dragon spilling over the top of some helpless high-heeled shoe into which the woman is trying to cram that loaf of bread she calls a foot.

That's probably the least-bad scenario. What will today's tattoos on arms, backs, and (gulp!) abdomens look like in 20 years? And if you're still not convinced, I was standing in line at Walgreen's the other day when this aggressively unattractive young woman walked in wearing a halter top which afforded a view of multiple tattoos on her, shall we say, décolletage. Without expensive surgery, in 20 years, that's going to look like an avalanche.

That's where we're headed on this, anyway. This fad will pass and people will realize that tattoos are permanent. This isn't some bad makeup job you got talked into while walking through Dillard's. Gahan Wilson, who does savage cartoons for magazines, once had one of a lemonade stand where kids were selling lemonade for five cents. But then around the corner, those who had drunk the liquid were staggering up to another stand which had a sign that read, "Lemonade Antidote: $100.00."

Now we come to earrings on men. They, too, look stupid, but at least the guys can take them off and hope the ear grows back together. What bothers me is when I see small boys with earrings. That's just wrong.

Being Hispanic by marriage, I believe that little girls should have their ears pierced no later than four months so it won't hurt very much, and so they'll be able to wear nice earrings at their baptism. However, no boy should be made to wear an earring until he reaches an age where he can make an informed decision as to whether he wants to look like he's in Depeche Mode.

Finally, NO MORE RAT TAILS! They looked idiotic when they came out. They looked idiotic when the two-month fad came to an end several years ago. Nowadays, it's just child abuse. I saw some poor kid at the store the other day, 'bout a 6-year-old boy, with earrings in both ears and a rat tail falling out the back of his head. He's probably already got a crush on his cousin. He and his progeny are going to have to persevere for several generations just to move up to the status of white trash.

Or he could just say what the heck and date women with tattoos.

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