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April 16, 2006

In The Eye of The Beholder.

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

From a distance - and even close up - she portrayed the essence of virginity. I was sitting in a large whirlpool bath when I noticed the young lady covered with an assortment of tattoos.

Gathering courage, I waded over and asked if I could look at them. I figured Disney characters. On one arm was the meanest looking eagle carrying the words "mom" printed on a ribbon in its' talons.

On the other, a skull and crossbones. Across her back was something I didn't recognize but it had stars on it. Startled, I backed away and asked if she was in the military, figuring anyone with such assortment could reduce the most hardened fanatic into a puddle of tears.

No, she smiled sweetly and I warily backed up figuring she probably had a waterproof AK-47 hidden behind her. I didn't feel completely safe until a jet of water shooting out of the opposite wall goosed me.

I try to discreetly glance at the tattoos sported by the men in the locker room of the health spa I frequent. It is quite difficult as I don't want to give the impression that I am well, you know, while stealing a peek. One gentleman, with a girth of about 50 inches has over 40 cartoon characters moving around his very ample tummy into his chest. They are a work of art, I think, because I have never seen them up close. He is in his 70's, so I assume he served his country in the Navy and got one at each port of call. With that number, I deduced he had circumnavigated the globe several times.

On another occasion, I was purchasing some beer at the local spirit shop when I noticed a Chinese character on the neck of the 20-something checkout guy.

I asked him what it meant -father - and complimented him on how fresh and artistic the piece looked and that it was not crowded together with a host of indistinguishable others.

He then lifted up his T-Shirt, turned around and stenciled in a variety of colors was a snake that began on one side at the waist, stretched up and across just under the neck and down the other side. In the middle were a host of other images, which blurred together as if I was wearing somebody else's very thick glasses. Sheepishly, I felt less of a man for not having one, paid for my non-alcohol brew and left, not to return.

I don't know why these body works fascinate me. When I was a lad, I had an Uncle Jack who had those blue ones from the World War II. I remember one of a battleship sailing up his forearm among the dense hairs as if camouflaged in a black fog. I have not seen one like that in the younger generation but I know they have courage.

Needles scare the DaVinci Code out of me and anyone who can sit through a tattoo is a better man than I am Gunga Din, Din. Din.

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