I don’t think I deliberately set out to be curmudgeonly, but I find myself acquiescing to that side of my character rather more often lately than I remember having done in the past. It is not exactly crankiness (there is, after all, some humor to be found in it), but there is definitely an element of judgmental-ness that contradicts my self-image to a sometimes alarming degree. Several examples have shown up over the course of this trip, but this one is freshest in my mind.
Tattoos: in my observation, there are few (okay, exactly zero) bodies improved upon by the addition of a tattoo. Chanteuse Bette Midler once commented that she had considered having an image of the Mona Lisa tattooed on one of her breasts; quite possibly, given the dimensions of the canvas in question, it could have been rendered life-size. She opted not to do it, however, citing the possibility that as she got older, gravity and its resultant tissue sag might render the portrait strongly reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. I think that was a very well-considered decision on her part; would that many of the scantily-clad tourists in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia had exercised similar restraint. Tweety Bird and Snoopy are both charming in their original milieus, to be sure, but quantifiably less so on the hairy leg or pendulous breast of a tank-topped sunburnt holiday-maker. The same goes for Iron Man, Sailor Moon, and Hello Kitty, perhaps even more so. Let’s not forget the ubiquitous variations on the flying-wing theme, usually found in what is generally known as “the small of the back”, the area directly above “the large of the butt” (thanks, Laura, for pointing out that distinction!). My friend Eric tells me that in his homeland of Holland, this design is colloquially known as “arcshgeweih”, which translates in English to “ass antlers”; now, of course, I can never see this sort of tattoo without thinking of Bullwinkle.
Also, much in the way that Asians love to use English for its aesthetics rather than for its connotation, Westerners seem to love having Japanese kanji characters indelibly imprinted upon their skin, irrespective of what said character(s) might mean. Perhaps the tattoo that read “I am who” was simply a case of the artist running out of ink, or possibly the tattoo-ee hit his pain threshold before the thought could be completed, although I am frankly at something of a loss as to what the finishing phrase to “I am who…” might be.
It is probably fitting that I am writing this missive in the coastal Thailand town of Krabi (seriously), pronounced just as one might expect. I will be here for the next several days, so who knows what other things I may find to Krab about in the meantime?