I read a few days ago that lower back tattoos — a/k/a “tramp stamps” — are making a comeback. All I can say is, thank god.
Maybe I can actually enjoy public swimming pools again.
Let me backtrack. In 2007, I was freshly divorced and ready to hit the dating scene. Because I’d married my high school sweetheart 15 years earlier, I was the proverbial fish out of water when it came to dating and had no idea what appealed to women. So, I asked a female coworker what she looked for in a potential partner.
“Tattoos are hot,” she said.
Why not, I figured. Some people consider their bodies temples. I thought of mine as a blank canvas…and if a tattoo might attract the ladies, I was down.
Once you decide to get a tattoo, there are two questions to ponder: what and where.
The first one was easy. I’ve been a huge Batman fan ever since the Michael Keaton movie came out in 1989. I own comic books, trading cards, even an action figure or seven. KAPOW! The Batman logo was an obvious choice.
Less obvious was where to put the logo. If I had thought it over more carefully, I’d have gone with my left shoulder. But noooo. Where did Mark decide to get tatted up 15 years ago?
Yep. The lower back.
I thought my new tattoo was super cool at first! I was forever admiring it in the mirror. I didn’t have a single regret…
…until the first woman who saw it burst out laughing.
The date had been going well. So well, we ended up in her bedroom. Things were getting hot and heavy. Clothes were coming off. And then, she saw it. Next thing I knew, she was doubled over in laughter, tears streaming down her face.
“I can’t believe you got a tramp stamp!” she said.
Talk about a mood killer. Naïve me, I had never even heard the term before.
Let’s just say I returned to the Bat Cave embarrassed and dejected, and in need of a cold shower. She and I never saw each other again. In fact, I almost swore off dating entirely. Figured the humiliation would be too much. But I missed female companionship and am all about getting back onto bicycles after falling off.
Eventually, Tara came along. As things between us grew serious, I knew one day Batman would again be unmasked. I tried to drop subtle hints along the way in an attempt to soften her up for the big reveal.
“Say, who’s your favorite superhero?” I asked her one day.
“Superman,” she replied.
“Even with those tights and that silly S on his chest?” I asked.
“He can leap over a tall building in a single bound. That’s pretty badass.”
“But he doesn’t drive a cool car!”
“He doesn’t need one. He’s faster than a speeding bullet!”
“Superman’s not very dark and brooding.”
“I prefer my superheroes to be glass-is-half-full guys.”
“OK, second-favorite superhero?”
“Favorite superhero who lives in a cave and has his own butler?”
To her credit, Tara never laughed when she saw my tattoo. She teased me about it. Mercilessly, at times. Cracked a few jokes. Suggested laser removal. But she accepted me for who I am, so the tattoo stayed. I’m still self-conscious on those rare occasions where I’m partially undressed in public, but I’ve long ago accepted my youthful indiscretion as just another part of what makes me me. And now, if these things are cool again, maybe I can finally shed my inhibitions every time I shed my shirt.
Is there anything in your past you would take back if you could? And who is your favorite superhero?