It used to be that the only people who were tattooed were sailors and bikers. Both of them were independence-bound individuals who cared little of what society thought about them. Actually after World War II, many sailors traded in their love of the high seas for an adoration of the highways. What better way to keep that feeling of freedom rolling than hopping on two wheels and cutting loose with some of your pals who have seen and been through the same things you have. Talk about camaraderie. After the Korean and Vietnam wars there was a rather large surge of bearded and tattooed men crisscrossing this great land of ours on choppers. So much so that this lifestyle seemed to be all the rage until Reaganomics saw to it that everybody got a haircut and a job. Sure, I am referring to a time more than 40 years ago and much has evolved with motorcycles as well as the tattooed masses, but when our mind’s eye waxes nostalgic and thinks of the quintessential “biker,” that image is covered with ink.
With that same fond memory I forged my driver’s license when I was 16 years old to look as it was two years earlier to get tattooed. I have never looked back or worried about what I was going to look like when I was 70 or if I would regret getting a cartoon dog scratched into my skin. I can tell you that 90 percent of my body is covered with close to 30 years worth of memories, some bad and some good. But it is a full-color reminder to myself and anyone who looks at me regarding my own life’s journey.
Being this tattooed is definitely not for everybody, and I would never judge anyone for not having a certain amount of tattoos or none at all. It truly takes a special kind of person to get copious amounts of tattoos. Even today when every soccer mom has some sort of small scrawling upon her flesh and every guy with a suit and tie has his collage fraternity letters imbedded in his skin, having hand, neck, and face tattoos is still considered pretty taboo. At least I feel that way when I go into the grocery store for milk or pick my daughter up from private school. I find this funny since every time I turn on the TV everyone from sports to rock stars to famous chefs seem to be covered head-to-toe in ink. C’est le vie mon ami.
The fact of it is this, the only time I feel that “those kinds of people” are not gawking at me or thinking I am going to rob them is when I’m on the bike with a pack of riders or at some sort of bike week, bike show, or motorcycle swap meet. Being immersed in a sea of tattoos and like-minded people proves to me that we are still very tribal in our way of living with fellow human beings. Instead of being banded together in search of food and shelter like our caveman brethren, we are drawn together with love for the open road and good times via motorcycles.
Don’t think I’m whining. I have chosen to look and live this way, and I don’t have a problem with it in the least. I am just happy that there are people like you all out there who are tolerant of personal freedom and understand fully and completely where it is I am coming from.
“Being immersed in a sea of tattoos and like-minded people proves to me that we are still very tribal in our way of living …”