Saturday, April 9, 2011

Quello Che Vedi è Quello Che si Ottiene

This last week, a bright and attractive student made a request of the Language Department; could they furnish a contemporary translation into Italian of the phrase, “What’s done is done.” Luckily, one of the historians at Enema U is currently in Italy, researching obscene gestures of the late Rennaisance. She quickly supplied me with the phrase, “Quello che è fatto, è fatto.”

Once I emailed the student the translation, she was quite grateful. “Thank you so much. It is very important that I get this right, since I will have the tattoo a long time.”

A tattoo! If she had only told me this in advance, I would have sent her: “Quello che vedi è quello che si ottiene.” In English, this comes out: “What you see is what you get!” Now that I think of it, in the long run, both phrases mean pretty much the same thing.

I simply do not understand the attraction of tattoos. Why in the world would people want graffiti on their bodies that, if they found drawn on the walls of their homes, would send them into hysterics? Maybe we need a waiting period for tattoos. If you want one, first you hire a nearsighted nine year old to scratch the design on the fender of your car with a rusty nail. Thirty days later, if you still like the idea, some moron will stencil the same art on your body.

No, that’s not fair; your tattoo will be different, and it will be in beautiful colors. Bullshit. It may be in color when you get it, but a few years later, it will be green. I think the exact shade of green is somewhere between gangrene and baby shit. If you are lucky, eventually it will fade to the same weird dirty green you get when you find out your new ring isn’t really gold. Technically, I think this color is known as dumbass green.

Then again, maybe tattoos are not quite as permanent as you think. Due to a medical emergency, my wife, the Doc, has had to …to modify a few of them. She once did surgery on a guy who was so proud of his Harley that he had a tattoo of it on his belly. After the surgery to remove the real handlebars from his abdomen, I hope he was still proud of the tattoo, even though it now shows a mini-bike.

Tattoos as an art form are over 5,000 years old. Twenty years ago, a frozen mummy was found in a glacier in the Alps. Ötzi the Ice Man had 57 tattoos that date back to 3300 BC. Evidently, he died while trying to pledge a fraternity-probably “Atsa Cuppa Crappa.” As an art form, I think a run of 5300 years is long enough, it is time to move on to something else. Tattoos are so third millennia BC.

A couple of years ago, a student was just dying to show me her new tattoo-a large figure just below her neck that depicted several Chinese characters that, at least according to her, conveyed a deeply spiritual and mystic Oriental message. She was almost in tears when I convinced her that I was fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and her tattoo actually read, “Beef With Broccoli.”

Can we give the whole tattoo as spiritual message routine a permanent break?. Just because you have yelled, “Oh God!” a few times in your dorm room does not make you a spiritual person. And a message inked on your body, regardless of what it really says, is only going to put you in tune with your inner stupidity. If your self-esteem is so low that you think the only way to improve it is by scrawling on your body the kind of message normally reserved for the underside of a freeway overpass, perhaps your problems cannot be solved by ink, in any color.

Art may be a great investment, but not when the most expensive piece you own is something you bought from a guy named Pirate Bob who works at the International House of Hepatitis.  And something is very strange when many of the young women on campus are too young to legally buy a beer, yet already have too many tattoos to be accepted for enlistment in the United States Marine Corps.

Both of my sons, What’s-His-Name and The-Other-One, at one time or another, expressed an interest in tattoos. I told both of them they were free to get any tattoo they wanted, but I reserved the right to remove the tattoo with a pair of pliers. If either one of them was dumb enough to ever get any body art, they were smart enough to do it where I can’t see it.

I still have the pliers.

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