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Everyone has things in life that really ick them out. For a lot of people it is spiders or bugs or snakes. Plenty of people have food that icks them out. For me, it is tattoos.
Let me assure you from the start that being icked out by tattoos is not the same as being icked out by the people who have them. I am not. I know that tattoos are pretty much mainstream now and no longer the province of just sailors and bikers, but they still ick me out. My best friend of many years has tattoos and I love her to pieces, but I try hard not to look at her tattoos any closer or longer than absolutely necessary.
The funny thing is that there is not a single creature in nature that icks me out. I don't mind spiders or snakes or anything that slithers or crawls. There are some fish that I find pretty ugly and would not want to share a pool with, but they don't prompt me to avert my eyes or make me cringe. Only tattoos make me do that. Well, tattoos and peanut butter, but that's another story.
I have occasionally pondered my dislike of tattoos. Is it because they cause me to make some subconscious association in my mind? Is it some social, cultural, or class association instilled in me by my mother that has carried over into my life? None of my brothers have tattoos or would ever get one, so I guess that is possible. Was my mother frightened by a guy with tattoos when she was carrying me and I was just born that way? That theory seems unlikely since the same tattooed guy would have to have frightened her all four times she was pregnant. Not to mention that fact that while my mother had more than a few phobias, she was almost benightedly foolish in her disregard for physical fear when it came to people and I can't imagine her being terrified by some guy with drawings all over his body. Considering how long ago that was, I can't even imagine circumstances under which she might have run into some scary guy with tattoos. Besides, I'm not at all frightened by tattoos, they just ick me out. All in all, it's a mystery.
I never mention my aversion to tattoos. People can be awfully touchy about them and I would never want anyone to believe that I don't like them as people because they have tattoos or make some judgment about them. After all, both my oldest children have one small tattoo each. If the truth be known, it was something that they did when they turned 18 as some sort of act of defiance to annoy me. When they failed to horrify me they pretty much quit trying and neither of them has ever contemplated having another one. Unfortunately, some pointless acts of defiance have rather permanent consequences.
I have to be very careful with my feelings regarding tattoos. If someone has pet tarantulas or snakes or ugly fish they don't seem to get particularly upset if you indicate your dislike for them. In fact, they often appear to actually enjoy terrifying or intimidating people with their beloved pets. For all I know, it may be half the reason they have them, to scare their friends. But people are really prickly about their tattoos and expect you to admire them when they flash them at you. I have become very good at faking being thrilled by the new tattoos of my friends and acquaintances. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone's feelings because of their tattoos. My aversion to them is, after all, my problem, not theirs. I liken it to a friend who shows you something they painted, or drew, or made that is pretty awful and you make a big fuss about it like it's the greatest thing since the Mona Lisa. Or when someone gets a new car that they absolutely adore that you may think is an ugly engineering nightmare. That is an opinion that any nice and well-mannered person would keep to themselves. Even that analogy is short of the mark since in my experience, people are far more touchy about their tattoos than they are their cars or their art.
I think I dislike tattoos because I just think that they are ugly. I find the colors grotesque and all of them tinged with a slightly sickly green. I understand that there are tattoo artists who are very, very talented and I acknowledge that; I just don't care for the medium. There are people who are terribly talented at painting Elvis on velvet but I would never hang one in my front parlor no matter how technically proficient it was. The bottom line is that there are some pretty ugly fish swimming around in the world and some of them really icked me out the first time I saw them. On closer examination I sometimes found the fish interesting but it didn't get any prettier the longer I looked at it. If the fish was icked me out the first time I saw it and continued to ick me out with further observation, chances are that if I saw it 20 years down the road and even though it had become a very popular mainstream fish, it would still ick me out. I just can't help it.
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