Translating Tattoos: Lessons From the ER

December 31, 2014 7:02 PM

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Ink is everywhere these days, and I don't mean on newspapers or in magazines. Tattoos are far more pervasive than I can ever recall in my 50 years. There was a time, when I was young, that boys were awestruck by the old Navy veterans, whose arms bore anchors, and the Marines with Semper Fi across their battle-scarred chests. Occasionally, when we saw them out in the sun, working in their yards, we would get a glimpse of hula girls or things even more thrilling, as we imagined their adventures in combat (and otherwise).

I also remember that when I was young, tattoos were scandalous things. The ladies at the mission tea were shocked and the good people of the neighborhood said "tsk, tsk," and kept an eye on those folks whose libertine morals permitted them to have their skin marked. Tattoos were, almost universally ...

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