Originally Published: April 25, 2001 7:15 p.m.
This is something of a confession.
Some of my friends know this, of course, especially the ones who have played tennis with me over the years. But many who have known me for years never knew I have a tattoo.
Although I was dumb enough to get a tattoo when I was young, I was smart enough to get it on my leg where my pants covered it most of the time. And at this stage of my life I am not going to apologize for something I did in 1945.
Still, with tattoos being in the news so frequently now, I feel obligated to at least bring up the subject, especially since my grandson is now in the Navy and he has gotten a tattoo. Can you imagine me asking him, "Kevin, how could you make such a mistake as getting a picture painted on your skin?"
That's not all. Recent news stories say tattoos are dangerous. Medical authorities say people risk developing blood poisoning from tattoos, even when they get them from so-called professionals who use sterilized equipment. When amateurs do tattoos, the danger of serious medical problems is much greater.
The mystique and glamour of tattoos pretty much faded out of the picture between the early '50s and recent years. Then, cosmetic tattooing started to get a lot of publicity, and the tattoo moved from back alley and waterfront dives to respectable salons. Getting permanent make-up through tattooing became an "in" thing.
One problem: Permanent make-up has not always had the same desired effect as a bit of color or a new line for an eyebrow.
For example: A lady recently sued a salon and technician over a tattoo intended as cosmetic cover-up but ended up being acceptable (at least in the eyes of the lady who filed the suit).
Apparently, the plaintiff had a naturally uneven lip line which the tattoo artist told her she could disguise by having a purple line tattooed on to cover up the error. She agreed to have the treatment (tattoo) to rectify the problem but was bitterly disappointed with the result. Unfortunately, the word "permanent" now came into sharp focus, hence the lawsuit.
The salon contended that its technician is an expert and just because the client decided the purple lip line was not right for her doesn't mean that the court should award an amount of money to repair the new and permanent look. In fact, the technician filed a countersuit against the plaintiff for slandering her, but the court dismissed it.
Boy, what a mess. Anyway, the 30-year-old schoolteacher said she intends to have the crooked purple line removed as soon as possible and isn't likely to have any more makeup tattooed on her face.
Maybe Kevin and I could sue to have our tattoos removed. I suppose his chances of having a tattoo done recently in Japan removed at the expense of the "artist" are better than my chance of doing the same thing about a now faded parrot an artist applied in a tiny shop on Hotel Street in Honolulu in 1945.
(John Schwartz is a longtime area resident and a freelance writer.)