Thursday, March 11, 2010

What possessed this very pretty young lady to mutilate herself by puncturing her face with little bits of metal? It bothers me a lot, and there are so many that it's becoming commonplace. Body piercing, tattoos, what next? Disks the size of mustard jar lids dangling from the sides of a young man's head held in place by his stretched earlobes. Grotesque. Am I being judgemental? I suppose so. A sense of judgement is a very valuable thing to have. Is it my business what she does to herself? Maybe not, but I wouldn't be human if I didn't care, even though I have only seen her once and have no idea who she is or what kind of a person she is. But there is something wistful and sad, even pleading, in that smile. Maybe the plea is, "Please care about me."
Stretched earlobes are unusual, but tattooing is pretty well mainstream by now. Any cook and mechanic may sport an assortment of graffiti on his epidermis to go with the bits of metal puncturing his lips, brows, nose, etc, and so in order to function in this day and age I have to smile wanly and pretend not to be revolted when I deal with one of these specimens at the checkout counter.
The Kingston Trio had a song out once about 'that old tattooed lady.'

We came to town to see that old tattooed lady
She was a sight to see, tattooed from head to knee.
My Uncle Ned was there, he came to gape and stare
"I've never," he declared, "seen such a freak so fair."

And on her jaw was the Royal Flying Corps
And on her back was the Union Jack
Now could you ask for more.

All up and down her spine
Marched the Queen's own guards in line
And all around her hips sailed a fleet of battleships
And over her left kidney
Was a bird's eye view of Sidney,
But what we liked best was upon her chest'
My little home in Waikiki

What was a joke in the late fifties has become fashionable in the 21 century. I remember a lot of fashions coming and going in my lifetime. When I was a schoolboy, women wore flouncy skirts and pointy bras. I especially remember the women's bathing suits of the time which had a kind of a tight flap stretched between the top part of the thighs over the pubic area. I was always verrry interested in what was beneath that flap. I think I was in grade ten when the sack dress came briefly into style. This costume was loose in the upper parts but tight around the knees, requiring the wearer to cultivate an interesting walking style. Girls of that day also wore girdles. Why a slim young girl would want to wear a girdle was somewhat of a mystery to me, but then just about everything concerning the female sex has always been a mystery to me. Now I realize that girdles were a birth control device. There was no way in hell you could get a girdle off her and still keep her in the mood. About the best you could hope for was to get the stockings unhooked. To this day I think the sexiest part of a woman is that part of the thigh between the stocking top and the lacy panties. All that wonderful drama and suspense, the courting and the wooing, was spoiled by the mini skirt which came along in the sixties. There really is no eroticism without a sense of sin, and the mini skirt was a signal that everything was allowed. Therefore, no mystery, no taboos, no sin, no shame. That was the end of romance, and maybe it was the end of real style.
Lots of fads have come and gone since then. For a while in the seventies every young man had to have sideburns. Extravagantly bell bottomed trousers and paisley shirts were essential parts of every dude's wardrobe. Looking back, the styles were indeed pretty ridiculous, but compared to baggy jeans falling off the ass they seem like formal wear. And what's with all these t shirts and hoodies decorated with death heads and skeletons? These getups certainly do harmonize with self mutilation.
You can always buy a new wardrobe and chuck the old duds in the Salvation Army bin, but you can't get a new skin. I really, really pity these poor, silly tattoo covered people, but it really upsets me to see a pretty girl, hardly more than a child, disfiguring herself. What happened with all this self-esteem stuff kids are supposed to get in school? With all that self-esteem wouldn't a person have respect for his body, the only body he can ever have?
Well, here's my analysis. When a kid throws a tantrum and the teacher compliments him on how well he expresses himself, the kid knows the teacher is lying. The kid knows he is being bad. The kid knows that he might hurt himself, that he is putting himself in danger. He is actually saying, "Stop me." And yet the teacher won't make him stop. This means to the kid that he is not loved and so he tries harder to be bad, puts himself in more danger. Stop me, he says again, but the teacher refuses. As time goes by the child comes to the conclusion that the reason he is not corrected is because he is not loved. And pretty soon he learns to hate himself. He takes drugs to obliterate his thoughts. He marks himself with needles as if he was smearing graffiti on the school he hates. He wears clothing scrawled with the symbolism of death.
So, yes, when I pass by some young person sitting on the sidewalk begging, surrounded by mil-dewed blankets and ragged clothing the first thing that occurs to me is, "How can you do this to yourself?" The second thing is, "No, I'm not going to contribute to your idiocy." If it's drugs you want, I won't help, especially when our welfare system is already acting as your supplier. This is something that peeves me immensely. I would really, really like to know how much of our welfare money goes straight into the pockets of drug dealers. But that's another topic.
Young lady, if I had my way I would pick you up by the scruff of the neck and tell you in no uncertain terms that your lifestyle was about to undergo a drastic change.

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