Body Art: A Mystery To Me

Body Art: A Mystery To Me


Leonard Zwelling

A few weeks ago on a Saturday night, we had dinner with close friends at Clark’s Oyster Bar in the Montrose district. The reservation was for 7:30 and the BW and I were the first to arrive. Our table was not ready. Our friends came shortly thereafter. The table was still not ready. The friendly maître d’ gave as glasses of champagne. We continued to wait. Then the owner came over and offered us free appetizers because of the delay. We finally got seated some twenty minutes later and the appetizers did arrive. The dinner was smooth sailing after that and the food was terrific.

I write this preface to let you know that I had a great deal of time to survey my surroundings. It was a very noisy small bar area where we had to wait and during the wait and the sipping of the champagne, I had a revelation. Every woman who worked at the restaurant whether a server or a hospitality person was pierced and most were tattooed. This didn’t strike me so much as odd as rather inexplicable. Why were these attractive young people putting holes in their ears, lobes and noses and writing unerasable stuff on their skin? I don’t get it.

I understand that there are many societies around the world where piercing and tattooing is common. Previously this was not in America or at least not in the United States of America. I am trying to understand if these markings and invasive jewelry have any meaning. Do they? It escapes me.

Now I am fully aware that when I was young, I did rebellious things with my body. I grew my hair very long in college and my graduation picture from Duke displays that long hair, a full beard, and a peace symbol on my lapel. But all of those things were reversible. And they were reversed in medical school as soon as I started seeing patients on clinical rotations.

Tattooing and piercing have clearly become acceptable in society now. Many of the most popular pop stars have both and all the basketball players, even in college, seem wrapped in body art. Jared McCain a star at Duke even painted his finger nails. What was that about? Nonetheless, hair–head and facial–lapel pins, and painted nails can all be reversed. That is not the case with the piercings and the body art. I just wish I understood why anyone would believe that ink or metal piercing is attractive.

If anyone who reads this can explain this phenomenon to me, I would be most appreciative. I realize that I am an unhip granddad, but this stuff does not make anyone look good.

4 thoughts on “Body Art: A Mystery To Me”

  1. Judy Schuenaman

    Wait till you’re in Austin more often! I did ask one young lady what her family thought of all the piercings. She said they were okay, but if she decided she really didn’t want to have so many of them she’d just let them grow back. Huh, okay!
    Not so much with the ink…

  2. Austin has a tattoo parlor on every corner. This town imports ink by the barrel. The majority of the inhabitants under 30 are inked. I hope the late effects are better than they were a long time ago. During my stint in the military many got tattoos. At our 40th reunion the once colorful body art was transformed into blue smudges.

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