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Middle America, are you ready for your face tattoos?
Danny Tyree

Like many kids, I had a dalliance with washable temporary tattoos.

As a teen, I tried (unsuccessfully) to market a comic strip about a tattoo artist named Tat McGrat.

But, as I entered adulthood, some combination of nature and nurture distracted me from making permanent tattoos a priority.

Other people DID have an interaction of DNA and Life Experience that made them exercise their right as Americans to embellish their skin with inconspicuous hearts, skulls, marijuana leaves -- or even dragons, unicorns, honest politicians and OTHER mythical creatures.

Alas, tattoos on chests, arms and legs are Yesterday’s News. According to the New York Times, tattoos on the FACE are going mainstream. 

One rapper joked that he wears face tattoos to make his momma mad. A piece of advice from a squeamish old guy: “Drink milk straight from the jug. Air condition the whole neighborhood. Who needs needles and pigment?”

Hipsters tout face tattoos as a cool way to announce, “This is who I am!” (Yeah, “This is who I am – the guy with 200 fewer bucks to donate to your charity.”)

The pioneers of face tattoos seem themselves as “free spirits.” This is especially true if they have an out-of-body experience from an allergic reaction to pigments.

Face tattoos can build confidence, we are told. Excuse me, but when someone has “I’m dying and taking everyone here with me” emblazoned on his cheek, I would just as soon he NOT be self-confident. Maybe a sheepish “...unless that would interfere with anyone’s plans” would be a nice corollary. 

Let’s talk preconceived notions. No matter how intellectual or kind-hearted individual tattoo aficionados may be, it’s understandable that “normals” see a Freddy-Krueger-on-the-forehead restaurant server and expect to hear, “The bearded lady is fetching the wine list, the human cannonball is bringing the bread and I see you’re having the chicken cordon bleu. Excellent! I bit the chicken’s head off myself.” 

Although reputable tattoo artists advise, “Think before you ink,” some advocates of face tattoos hope their giddiness will be infectious, gushing, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a piece of artwork you could carry with you everywhere for the rest of your life?” Yeah, I THOUGHT those stuffy old museums had it wrong. Art should be exposed to UV radiation, concussions, zits, razor burn, broken noses...

I have seen tattoos that are true masterpieces, but others are drearily unimaginative renderings of random words or the name of This Week’s Soulmate. Can you imagine Michelangelo applying modern standards to his projects? (“There! I wrote ‘Darlene’ in John Deere green on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Booyah! Where’s my money, pope?”)

Tattoo skeptics probably harp too much about the sagging and distortion caused by age, but you have to admit some amusing situations could occur. (“No, my tattoo of Tim Tebow isn’t taking a knee! I just developed a double chin.”)

What happens when people are tattooed from head to toe and have nowhere else to go? Perhaps some high-tech entrepreneur will take inspiration from Ray Bradbury’s book “The Illustrated Man” and give us tattoos that come to life, wiggling and squirming and acting out scenes on our skin.

Wow. We could see the Titanic sinking again, John Dillinger getting gunned down again, editors using Tat McGrat as litterbox lining again…

*Sigh* Anybody got a spare pack of washable temporary tattoos?

Danny welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”