Of Tattoos, Bazooka Gum and Lessons Learned


By Don Kenton Henry

Thank you all for your participation. You (at least some) unwittingly participated in a social experiment of the type recently perpetrated on all of us by this very entity to which we subscribe. I.e., Facebook. In case you were not informed, Facebook recently published posts on our pages intentionally designed to elicit an emotional response. They then recorded the emotion evoked in that response. Specifically, whether positive or negative. Some who learned of this felt taken advantage of. Others accepted they authorized it when they agreed to the terms and conditions of a Facebook account.

I have no tattoos nor will I ever. Do any of my generation remember when, as children, we could buy bubble gum (Bazooka, I believe) and inside the wrapper, around the gum was a cartoon image in colorful ink on a piece of paper? You wet the paper and pressed it against your skin and, “Voila!” ― you had a tattoo!

One lazy, hot summer afternoon when I was about seven and my brother, Preston, five, we went to the newsstand in Rensselaer, Indiana where our parents bought the Chicago Tribune and we kids bought candy. We bought some gum, came home, wet the paper tattoo applicators with drops of water from the garden hose and were instantly sporting what we felt were the “coolest” tattoos. I believe I had Superman on my upper arm and Preston probably had Dick Tracy or some such cartoon hero. We were so proud we peeled off our shirts and ran off looking for someone to flex our muscles for. It wasn’t long before we found our dad. Now he had been in the Navy for eleven years and as such had seen many a tattoo. You would have thought we was perfectly comfortable with them. Not. He sat us on the back steps of the house, went inside and returned with a bucket of soapy water and a stiff horse hair brush. He then proceeded to rub the tattoos off our little bandy arms and continued scrubbing long after the Superman and Dick had vanished. We were left with our arms rubbed red raw and tears streaming down our faces. And then he told us that our body is not a billboard; that it was to be respected and that――if we ever came home (no matter how old) with a real tattoo on our body――he would scrub it off with a WIRE brush! That is a lesson one does not forget. And I have not.

Few people have tried to respect their body more than I through life. I have banged it up a little by putting it to the test but never intentionally harmed or took it for granted. If I want to make a statement (political or otherwise) I write it on paper or electronically. I do not demean my body by canvassing it with some permanent testament to a thought―much less some inanity. Only to have to look at it with regret when, along with me, it has faded and shrunk. The tattoo a legacy to my impetuous vanity.

I was seated and sipping a Shiner Bach at Dosey Doe’s last evening with the “Red Tail Fox”. We were waiting for one of our favorite Texas songwriter, singers, Jason Boland, to appear on stage when I decided to do a “check―in” on Facebook. Along with Dosey Doe’s, there appeared All Star Pawn and the Superchango Tattoo Parlor. I thought, “Well . . . let’s give them something to think about!”

Again, I thank you for your participation. I am happy to announce most of my friends share my opinion of tattoos. And probably Obama. I want you all to rest assured the only “ass” that will ever be on this body is the one I was born with. (And a fine one it is. Or so say, Ann Nonymous and the Red Tail Fox 😉

2 comments on “Of Tattoos, Bazooka Gum and Lessons Learned

  1. Thank God Don, I really was concerned for you. As always you give us something to think about. Job well done!

    • Is this comment from my friend, Marla Butler? I don’t recognize the last name, “Lucy” in your email. Regardless, I appreciate your comments. I know I can be a little difficult to read (get a handle on) . . . especially if you try to reconcile my rebel social side with my conservative politics. Hope you continue to follow me!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: