Enhanced beauty through ink

The television newscasts are often very disturbing. There are miscreants out stealing the belongings of others, many times violently. So much of it can be attributed to drug use. Coping with reality sober is more than some people can manage. Men and women both are vulnerable to the allure of living chemically enhanced lifestyles.

About 15 years ago, I covered an event at the Central California Women’s Facility called “Get on the Bus.”

The project was organized and funded by the Catholic Archdiocese in the Los Angeles area. Held shortly after Mother’s Day, the purpose behind it was to bring a busload of the female inmates’ children to the prison for a visit. The wisdom of this outing was not up for debate at the time. I wondered which would inflict more psychological damage on the kids, seeing their mothers in a cage or no visitation at all.

The visits were held in a cafeteria. It was mostly a sweet reunion. I have no idea the level of good behavior these women must have banked to earn this extraordinary treat. The whole process was heartbreaking to watch.

I remember talking to several of the women before their children arrived. Every story began with the almost identical refrain: “My boyfriend and I, my husband and I, my old man and I…” Then they would relate whatever crime they committed and how long they were serving time. While I didn’t speak to every woman in the room, all the ones I spoke with denied any advance knowledge of the crime. None of them was willing to take responsibility for their crimes. They were a scary lot.

Thinking back, almost all the women sported some sort of tattoos. How many of them were gang related I have no idea. They looked hand-drawn from a combination of blue and black ink. This took place about 15 years ago. Tattoos were not as prevalent or mainstream at that time.

It used to be tattoos were popular with military men and motorcycle enthusiasts. In the second decade of this millennia it has become quite commonplace for men and women of all walks of life to sport what is fondly called “ink.”

Instead of a single discreet picture, some young and not so young people have more tattoos than can be imagined. Entire arms or sleeves of tattoos are extremely popular. Professional tattoos can be drawn in a rainbow of colors.

When I was in my 20s and rode a motorcycle everywhere I went, I thought seriously about getting a tattoo. I envisioned a Harley Davidson insignia sporting butterfly wings instead of the eagle wings common to the decals and patches of the day.

Madera didn’t have a full-time tattoo shop in the late 70s and early 80s. Since driving or riding on the back of motorcycle drunk is ill advised, I never came in close proximity to the Fresno tattoo parlors while intoxicated.

Tattoos have changed and become more extravagant. Beauty parlors and day spas offer tattoo services. Women can have their makeup and especially their eyebrows permanently applied. I can’t imagine the pain involved with this procedure. The whole idea scares me. I can’t help but admire the commitment to beauty some women will endure. Botox injections and face-lifts seem only as limited as the total in one’s bank account.

Another reason I have never had a tattoo may be nothing more than pure apathy. I can’t think of anything I care about enough to put a bumper sticker on my car much less a permanent memento on my body. I have read that getting tattoos is addictive. That could explain people who keep adding to their tattoo collections. Some people have personality defects and fall easy prey to addictive substances and behavior.

Have a great weekend.

• • •

Long days and pleasant nights, readers. You may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing tamijonix@gmail.com or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.