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Think before you ink
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I remember seeing a man with a tattoo on his arm when I was about 7 or 8. The man was in a barber shop, where my dad and I were getting a haircut. I later asked him about the strange drawing on the man’s arm.

“That’s a tattoo,” he said. “He was probably in the Navy.”

When I asked for a further explanation, my dad said sometimes men were on ships for long periods of time and would come into port and misbehave. He blamed it on long stretches at sea.

I later learned it followed long stretches at a seaside watering hole. Even the Navy song has a line about drinking to the foam during their last night ashore.

Somewhere along the way, tattoos became popular and acceptable, at least for some folks. I’m still trying to figure out why.

I’m also trying to figure out why folks like a man with a three-day growth of beard. But that’s a column for another day.

When one of my nephews had a birthday party, they had a woman who was sort of a clown and magician come and perform. She offered me a rub-on temporary tattoo. I accepted.

That thing didn’t wash off for more than a week. I was about to pull out some steel wool and Comet to get it off.

I don’t like tattoos and I don’t find anything appealing about a woman celebrity who has on a designer dress and is showing off some ink. It’s just trashy.

Some of these things are quite elaborate and the person who punctured them into someone’s flesh had some artistic abilities.

However, one should remember they are not easily erased. I am told a good tattoo can cost hundreds of dollars. Getting it removed by a laser can cost twice that.

When you consider they are essentially permanent, I would suggest one think twice about putting someone’s name on your body. If you break up with one person and have their name etched in a publicly viewed spot, it could impede your future dating chances (unless you choose someone of the same name with the same spelling).

If you are trying to say something memorable or profound through your tattoo, let me advise you check the spelling before you are inked.

Sites on the Internet show people who have vast collections of tattoos that do not express the desired sentiment. A tattoo reading “Live You’re Life” is not something you really want to say. It is also likely you will regret a tattoo that says, “No Regrets.” There is a photograph of a man with “Exreme” emblazoned upon his upper chest. It is in letters I would describe as “extreme,” which is what he wanted to say.

There is a woman who wanted to have “Sweet Pea” embossed upon her lower back. What she now has is a description of a fluid emitted from the body.

I’m not here to tell you not to get one, that’s your decision. Remember, it could be with you forever. Or as some of you might say: 4ever.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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