My late father had a unique sense of humor, and he delighted in the ridiculous. Which is why he was a big fan of the Marx Brothers and the British comedians who did the Goon Show and “Beyond the Fringe.”
At one point in my childhood, we had a housekeeper whose first name was Lydia. My father, of course, thought it would be appropriate to sing “Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, the en-cy-clo-piddea” to her, assuming she’d get the reference.
And thus ruffled feathers had to be smoothed, and explanations had to be given, and my father learned that not everyone is a fan of classic comedy.
Lydia, the tattooed lady of the song, was covered all over with miscellaneous designs. You could see “Kankakee, or Paree, or Washington crossing the Delaware.” From the pictures I’ve seen, heavily tattooed people in those days mostly did the same thing–just kept adding ink-work till there wasn’t much skin left to be covered. There was no overall design. And in those days, heavily tattooed people did make a living as circus performers, so if the average person were to see someone with a lot of ink, that’s what they would have seen.
If you’re only going to get a few tattoos, it doesn’t really matter if they “go along” with each other in any way. Inspiration strikes, ink is added. What feels right at one stage of the game might not be so appealing the next time around. My own three tattoos don’t coordinate with each other visually in any way (although I must admit I have considered commissioning a gifted artist of our acquaintance to design me a sleeve that would incorporate my seven stars). Given that no two of my tattoos are anywhere near each other, it doesn’t matter at all that they don’t coordinate.
However, it does seem to me that if one’s goal is to get pretty well covered, a grand plan makes the whole thing look a lot better. That’s why those Japanese bodysuits look so good. If we just keep adding stuff till there’s no skin left, it comes out looking like what it is: a mish-mosh. Better, I think, to have at least some plan to coordinate everything. But then again, I don’t plan to get completely covered, so what do I know?
What do you think? Grand plan, or individual inspirations?
By the way, if you want to see Groucho singing “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” in his prime, you can find his performance on YouTube here. I have had no luck embedding videos properly, so better you go see it at the source. 🙂