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  1. I Like To Look

    Thursday, July 19, 2012


    Rhonda Hansome


    Our bodies pressed.  Pressed in a cadence we couldn’t control.  Held captive, we suddenly swayed, gently rocked, then careened to a deceptively motionless halt.  In that stillness vibrating one against the other, we silently submitted to the grasp of the superior force surrounding us.  With the proximity of molecules we surrendered to the repetitive rhythm, our bodies quietly pressed in hypnotic rush hour intimacy, on the “A” train.  I don’t think she gave me a second look, or even a first for that matter.  I allowed my eyes to prowl my limited sight line, her swan like neck.

    From any respectable distance the delicate black chain decorating her caramel throat would be a simple feminine adornment.  Close inspection revealed an eight point font Lucida Calligraphy tattoo:

    If you are close enough to read this, back the fuck off!

    My loud full throated (all too recognizable) guffaw cracked the silence of the packed train car.  On any other day our crowded rocking express trip would be accompanied by the tinny annoyingly disjointed musical selections emanating from a dozen or so too loud earphones, but not today.  God’s gift to comics, my borderline maniacal laughter, thundered around my silent fellow passengers like a fart in church.

    Bingo! Her tat brightened my morning in a way the sun could only envy.  There was no containing my glee, for you see I am a tattoo voyeur.  Upon viewing a tattoo, my not necessarily sexual stimulation is a multi-faceted delight.  I marvel at the colors, designs, and locations of tattoos. I am unendingly intrigued by the trompe l’oeil, literal trick of the eye suggested by deep black ink on very dark black skin. Is that a fire breathing dragon or a losing battle with eczema; a circle of palm trees or the filthiest ankles I’ve ever seen?  But my highest flight of fancy evoked by any tattoo is for what I do NOT see.  Each human canvas transports me to a reverie of conjecture.  I ruminate endlessly on tat philosophy.  Is a tattoo still a mark of the rebellious individual if everybody has one?   What was the motivating catalyst to acquire the tat; gang affiliation, spiritual epiphany, drunken stupor?  When the tat was applied was the owner alone, accompanied by a trusted friend or just a gaggle of voices in her head?  Why do grey skulls cry blue spiders?  Were you aware before inking the entire 23rd Psalm on your arm, there are some errors overlooked by spell check?  “He maketh me to file down in green statues: he leadeth me beside still waiters.”

    Interestingly enough traditional tribal tattooing, once outlawed is experiencing a revival among the Maori of New Zealand and hipsters of Brooklyn.  I love the ubiquitous lower back “tramp” stamp viewings, offered by the many believers of truth in advertising.  

    My enjoyment is tripled during summer months when halters, tank tops, sundresses and shorts reveal winter’s hidden treasures.  On yet another train ride (thank goddess for the weekly metro card!), the beige shorts before me coyly exposed the vibrant red outline of what promised, after multiple tattoo parlor visits, to be twin lush rose bouquet upper thigh tats on the nose ringed subway rider before me.  Emboldened by curiosity or just giddy from the lack of air conditioning, I pointed and asked, “What type are those roses?”  With a suspicious nod in my direction, his response was, “Just a regular rose.”  My imagination quickly colored in a hardy damask rose he chose because its tall thorny cane and strong scent recalled for him a lover lost but never forgotten. Some things are better left to my imagination. That’s why I love to look.


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