Today at the post office, I was in line behind a very large man whose upper arms were covered with black line tattoos. I didn’t think of them as sleeves, because they were kind of like Paul Teutul Sr’s conglomeration of assorted images. At least I thought that was what they were, because the ink had faded so much that it was barely darker than his skin.
He noticed me looking at his arms and we struck up a conversation, as multicolored people often do. It turns out he’d gotten most of the tats when he was in the Marines, years ago. I made some comment about how he must have been out in the sun a lot because his ink had faded, and he laughed.
“No,” he said. “Think about writing on a balloon with a marker and then blowing up the balloon. That’s what happened to that ink.”
Now, that’s something I had never considered. People talk often about tattoos sagging when we get old, but I don’t think I’ve ever had another conversation about ink getting faint when it’s stretched over time. But that makes perfect sense when you think of the balloon analogy.
I know most of us don’t get, or not get, inked based on the possibility of stretching, sagging, or fading. Have you had any of your ink get “modified” by your body with the passage of time? What did you do about it?
photo credit: Felipe Katsumata