We’re the generation that, when we are older, will find it weird not to have a tattoo. You’ll no longer see teachers and parents getting shamed for the art on their skin; rather, they’ll be branded strange for their lack of ink. And that’s where my dilemma lies.
Last week I failed my driving test. Someone fucked me over at a roundabout and, though I’m not one to pass the blame, this 100 per cent was not my fault. I came back to the test centre thinking, ‘You drove well there, mate. You may even have passed.’ My examiner had other ideas. He was the definition of insecurity; a man whose sole purpose in this world is telling people they’ve failed, and reveling in it. He was short, with greasy gelled hair and those annoying glasses that turn into shades in the sun. I wanted to protest, but I couldn’t be arsed. Instead I went home, played FIFA and ate copious amounts of houmous.
One thing I was going to do, if I passed, was get a tattoo. A local parlour was dishing out certain designs for £20 in aid of the Nepal Earthquake, so it felt like the ideal moment to get something I’d been craving for a long time. I would’ve been on a high from driving, I was set to get paid and I would’ve been doing my bit for the world. Instead, I failed. My pay was delayed too (at the time of writing, I’m still waiting for it), and with it my dream. It left me back where I started, no closer to a car and no closer to art on my arms, but with a thought ringing round my cranium: “Why do I want a tattoo?”
The truth is, I don’t know. I don’t want my tattoo to necessarily mean anything or be a special symbol, but most of all I don’t want it to be uniform. When I was younger, tattoos were the sign of a badass, a rebel. They were a symbol of revolt, a way of saying ‘fuck the system’ in the most permanent way. They symbolised everything I loved at the time: revolution, protest and going against the mainstream (I was a grunger, for the record).
Now, tattoos are slowly starting to symbolise a lot of things I hate. Unfortunately, lads, with their walnut whip haircuts are claiming tattoos, and girls who wear huaraches are getting endless flocks of birds on their backs. I realise this is painting a lot of people with the same brush, which is not the point of this article, so don’t throw your shit at the fan just yet. What I’m saying is that tattoos – like Converse, Vans, skinny jeans and flannel shirts – have become the norm. We’re the generation that, when we are older, will find it weird not to have a tattoo. You’ll no longer see teachers and parents getting shamed for the art on their skin; rather, they’ll be branded strange for their lack of ink. And that’s where my dilemma lies.
I want a tattoo, but I don’t want my tattoo to be from Topman, because I’ll see someone with that tattoo on a Friday night in New Cross. I want my tattoo to be mine and no-one else’s, I want it to represent me and not the masses. But if I get a tattoo, do I become part of the endless herd of sheep in Ibiza listening to Duke Dumont? Or do I become part of that society that automatically looks cool because you can’t figure out what it is on their arm, or what it means – even if it means shit all?
I know a lot of people with tattoos and a lot of people with shit ones. On the other hand, I know a lot of people with incredible works of art on their body and I don’t know if there is anything cooler than that. All I know is that I want one. But my ‘I dunno’ personality will forever restrain me from getting it. So, for now, I’ll remain pure, hopeless and wait for my pay cheque.