Tattoos are OK, but hear these words of wisdom

OK, kids, sit down and let’s talk. I’ve changed my mind about tattoos. What? No, I’m not kidding. I accept that they’re an important fashion statement for your generation, no less than bell-bottom jeans and platform shoes were for mine. Of course, you can change clothes a lot easier than change — you’re right, I digress.

Let me offer some advice. If you survive your rebel-without-a-clue years, you’ll have decades of get-togethers with extended family who’ll remind you of all the stupid things you did when you were younger. Don’t make it worse by indelibly stamping stupid on your skin. This won’t happen if you follow some simple guidelines about what kind of tattoo you get and where on your body you put it.

First of all, forget tattoos that involve a boyfriend or girlfriend. He or she may seem like “the one and only,” but odds are he or she will become “the one of many.” Just ask Angelina and Billy Bob. Have I mentioned that tattoos don’t come off as easily as platform shoes? Oh, that many times, eh?

The only safe tattoo with a named individual is immediate family. You can count on your mom and me, but that’s about it.

Beware of tattoos involving popular culture. Robert Pattinson and Katy Perry will get wrinkled and unpopular, but your tastes will change long before that. I once thought Billy Jack was the greatest movie ever made, and Robert Palmer and Eddie Money were cooler than Elvis. Now one is dead and the other has a dead career. The movie? Cliche wasn’t a word before Billy Jack.

Eventually, a Grateful Dead skull starts looking like a regular skull, and you don’t want to spend a lifetime explaining you don’t have a thing for pirates. As my tastes evolved, shelving my vinyl discs was easier than having a tattoo removed, which is not so easy. What’s that you say? Oh, sorry, I’ll stop mentioning that.

Steer clear of the latest rage in tattoos. Trust me on this: In twenty years, there will be millions of middle-aged, balding, potbellied American men, their biceps tattooed with barbed wire that looks as fashionable as a mullet.

With all my cautions about using literal images, you might want to be mysterious by choosing an inscrutable tattoo. You’ll fantasize about some gorgeous member of the opposite sex dying to hear you explain its deeper meaning. Forget it. Someday you’ll have a career, the boss will throw a pool party, you’ll need to wear a swimsuit and you’ll spend the whole afternoon explaining that it’s not a scorpion on a bicycle but rather an obscure Nordic deity, scribed into your skin back when you thought mead had healing properties.

What about placement? Avoid tattoos on parts of the body susceptible to the effects of aging, lest your Earth globe becomes an Earth egg. That leaves the soles of your feet, the palms of your hands and your butt cheeks. Octogenarians have youthful butt cheeks. Stop interrupting; I just know, that’s how.

Let’s review: No popular culture, named individuals, fads, enigmas or age-susceptible surfaces. Got it? Well, yes, I know, that doesn’t leave many options. How about a nice simple “I Love My Dad” on a butt cheek? You’d make me proud.

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