OUTDOORS COLUMN: My pros and cons of body art

Herald Outdoors Columnist

Herald Outdoors Columnist

I once took a rather lengthy fall from a tree stand. I was uninjured, but my impact with the ground caused the camera strapped around my neck to strike my chest hard enough to temporarily imprint "Canon" into my skin across the sternum region. That's the closest I've ever come to having a tattoo.

There was a time, though, not all that long ago, when I actually considered getting myself tattooed for real. I don't know why. Maybe I was having a mid-life crisis or just thought I needed to make a "statement." You know, like a pro athlete, a rock star, or that college kid who passed out during spring break and woke up with a really good likeness of male genitalia inked into his forehead.

I am personally acquainted with several people who sport tattoos. Many of them obtained their body art while stationed overseas in the service. Obviously the 1960s and 70s were not great periods of creativity or individuality. Their tattoos are mostly big red hearts with "MOTHER" scripted beneath them or naked women on their knees with their hands behind their heads. Forget the one with the naked woman and "MOTHER" in the same scene. That guy was on something far more potent than German beer or Polish vodka.

Contemplating a tattoo of my very own, my first consideration was what kind.

I gave serious thought to a majestic ten-point buck standing proudly above a banner reading "Deer Slayer" But, no. I wanted to be honest. A deer-hunting theme for me would merit a wormy six-pointer or perhaps a yearling doe.

So, maybe a ten-pound largemouth with the caption "Bass Assassin?" Uh uh. Better a three-finger bluegill, which the artist I was consulting didn't know how to draw.

Okay, how about a big, loud, gas-guzzling 4-wheel drive pickup with "Boggin'" written underneath? Doggone it, that wouldn't work either. More appropriate to draw a Chevy Colorado and change "Boggin'" to "Bogged Down."

Decisions, decisions. Getting tattooed while sober and of sound mind is complicated.

Another dilemma: where to put the thing?

On my chest? I didn't think so. I no longer go shirtless in public, a fact for which I'm sure the public is eternally grateful.

On a leg, maybe? Forget it. I haven't worn shorts since the day I was told my bare legs protruding from hiking boots made me look like a killdeer standing in empty shotgun hulls.

Well, how about.....? Oh no, Bubba. Ain't no way anybody's getting down there with an electric needle!

I finally just gave up on the whole idea. Perhaps one day I'll scribble "Bob" across the back of my hand with a Magic Marker, but for now my less-than-impressive body shall remain a blank canvas. I am, however, still thinking about having something pierced, so y'all stay tuned.

"No tattoo for me," I told my buddy Cletus Monroe after I reached my decision.

"Why not?" Clete replied. "I got one."

"Huh?" I asked. "Really? I've known you forever and you've never once said anything about having a tattoo. When did you get it and why have I never seen it?"

"Lotsa things you don't know 'bout me, Hoss," he said. "I got it three years ago in Little Rock, Arkansas. I'd been thinkin' 'bout it for a long time."

"Okay," I said. "Let's have a look."

Resignedly, Clete unbuttoned and opened the front of his shirt. There, across his bare chest was a flowing banner upon which was emblazoned the phrase "Born Too Loose."

I gazed at the motto for a moment, puzzled, and then said, "Explain, please."

"What's to explain?" he replied. "This says it all. You know I've had a hard life. My luck's always been bad. Nothin's ever gone right for me. I just thought I'd feel better gettin' it all out in the open like this. 'Born To Lose.' That tells it, don't it?"

Folks, I just didn't have the heart. I'm just glad Mrs. Griggs, who taught us spelling in sixth grade, wasn't alive to see it.

Afterthought: It occurs to me that 40 or 50 years from now there'll be a lot of old folks with old tattoos and old skin tottering around out there. It's unlikely I'll be around to see them, but some of you will. Think about that. Just don't think too long.

Questions? Comments? E-mail Herald Outdoors Columnist Bob Kornegay at cletuswindstream.net.