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The Bravery of a Coward

Posted by Dirck on 30 August, 2012

Preface: cholesterol where it should be, BP 122/86.  Hooray for science!  Now, on with the regular malarkey–

I’ve recently grown a co-worker.

Wait… that sounds wrong.  A co-worker has developed at the Regular Job.

No, that’s a little more sinister than it should be, still.  There is a new co-worker in the department.  That’s got it!  I mention this because she is rather tattooed, and the tattoos have gotten me thinking.

This is not going to be a curmudgeonly screed against the habit of tattoos, since such things are already thick upon the ground and not at all agreed with by me.  The only reason I don’t have a tattoo of some sort myself is that I can’t quite conceive an image I’d want stuck to my own frame in perpetuity.  I’m also not going to cry out about women getting tattoos, since I don’t hold with pitting genders against one another, and also because there are various tattooed women in my circle of acquaintance whose opinions I otherwise value and would feel a bit of an idiot trying to formulate a foundation for saying, “…but they’re dead wrong about the ink.”

In point of fact, the contemplation of tattoos in general left me a little sheepish.  Here’s the reasoning; I have in past, both here and in more direct conversation, approved in a general way of personal expression.  I have lamented the habit (apparently quite on the wane, huzzay) of wearing flannel pyjamas to go out in public, but that’s in part because it strikes me as a manifestation of giving up on oneself.  More positive self-expression I’m all for, where it doesn’t actively offend.  This is an attitude which I must adopt, as it is an important bolster to my habit of wearing fedorae, sporting waistcoats, and writing with fountain pens to the exclusion of just about everything else.

The mode of expression is the source of the sheepishness.  Clothing and writing implements are, while relatively overt, not particularly permanent.  I stride about in my cuffed trousers, being pointedly anachronistic and feeling good about myself (cuffed, wide-legged trousers help a lot in this; vintage fashion is a boon to the large-thighed), but should the day come when I find I tire of being goggled at by scruffy youths in ridiculous caps, or just find the inconvenience of stowing the hat when at lunch or a doctor’s appointment wearing, I can shed the encumbrances.  The hat goes in a box, the tie into a drawer, the waistcoat into a closet, the pen into the Cavern of Keeping, and I become unremarkable.

The tattooed can shed their distinction, too.  After protracted and painful surgical interference.  I might, I suppose, congratulate myself on having the internal grit to adopt modes of self-expression that require an ongoing effort to keep in place (vs. the once-only effort/expense of the tattoo), but because I’m also self-judgemental, I find it more apt to view it as a persistent lack of commitment.  Yes, I am still using fountain pens, but I haven’t had one installed in place of a finger.  That would be real commitment to the chosen mode of expression.

There is also this:  I don’t value the opinion of the goggling scruffy youths, nor rely upon them for my living.  I understand that even now there are some that view tattoos as a mark of an unreliable reprobate.  Another of the few virtues of  current job is that they don’t hold this prejudice (although a lamented ex-co-worker might argue the point; the tattoos may have had some fertilizing role in the ending of her employment here).  I’m not brave enough to jeopardize my career opportunities with a permanent mark of idiosyncrasy, and I think if a job interview looms any time in the future, the hat is apt to stay home.  Craven suit-wearing poltroon that I am.

…and now, I find I must conform to the dictates of the time, which I keep with a non-permanent, easily removed wrist-watch.  I’m incorrigible!

Today’s non-obligatory pen: Pelikan New Classic
Today’s entirely external ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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4 Responses to “The Bravery of a Coward”

  1. Flounder said

    I got a tattoo a few years ago, at least its a form of self expression that doesn’t make strangers squirm with pain. Those giant flesh tunnels and ear stretchers the youth tribes have so warmly embraced, on the other hand…

    • Agreed. My wife and I, observing the growing universality of tattoos (one day my unmarked state may be remarkable, at that) and other modifications, have occasionally pondered just where those who want to be REALLY distinctive will have to go; “I’m going in next week to have my left arm and right leg swapped around; I might see about having an eye socket moved while I’m there.”

  2. I’m surprised you don’t use a pocket watch. With the fedora and the wide-legged, cuffed trousers, I half expected you to have a pocket watch. Not a zoot-suit type, but rather a classy watch and fob.

    I am currently un-inked, but I’m planning on getting a tattoo. Not to keep up with the cool kids—I couldn’t care one way or the other about trends, etc. But until a particularly beloved feline companion died, there was nothing that meant enough to me to get inked. So I will soon join the ranks of the subtlely inked.

    • Your surprise need only be intermittent; the pocket watch is a sometime thing. When I’m using a ring-top, I like to balance the vest-chain. However, apart from mere wrist-watch habituation, the pocket watch also looses about ten seconds in a day, and long before I fell into my vintage mode the German elements in my genes expressed themselves. I go a little nuts when a time-piece isn’t EXTREMELY regular.

      Ah, cats– the means by which we understand the sad aspects of immortality. I understand entirely.

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