Color me gooood

Until last year, I had only been to New York in winter (Christmas Day at a Dunkin’Donuts style), so it took me a while to realize what all the new-yorkers were hiding behind their giant coats and their ugly winter jackets and their fingerless gloves. But last summer, I had a blast discovering all those amazing tattoos blossoming on the streets. Exploding on a forearm, on a not so well shaved neck, on a calf sticking out of stupid stupid shorts.

And now, I can spend hours, sitting there, my coffee long forgotten, watching this awkward ink ballet. Don’t get me wrong, I love a guy with a tattoo as much as the next girl (well, maybe not if it’s Matt Damon in Elysium, but still) but I kind of don’t get it. How come tattoos can still be sort of deviant when everybody, and I mean everybody, has one.

A dumb wild animal around a frail arm (’cause you’re da man), a useless bikechain on a knee (’cause you can), a huge heart with some random sluty name (’cause you’re clueless, darlin’). A gloomy sci-fi story covering half your body (’cause no one gets you, anyway). In a weird way, I think I love all this mess. Maybe because it conforts me to see that other people make mistakes too.

But the more I cruise Williamsburg for the perfect/stupid/a-ma-zing tattoo, the less I get it. Bedford Avenue, where hipstery was born and now home to the most ignominious tramp stamps you’ve ever seen. How come? What happens in your head when you decide to get a Pokeball on you biceps? Yeah, I’m talking to you, tough guy, and I’m also talking about your yellow SpongeBob SquarePants on your left arm. What the what? And you, girl, why this plane? Why this key? Why this foolish motto “forgive nerver forget” on your boobs?

I’ve been sitting at this cafe for hours and I can’t read, I can’t think of my next move, I’m just watching the parade. The girl sitting next to me –early 20s, pretty cute- has a pigeon drawn on her shoulder. A pigeon. I don’t even want a pigeon on a T-shirt, so gross.

For the French, obvious tattoos are somewhat taboo and only popular with various, minority groups: goths, rock fans, artists and bored small-town fatties from the countryside. But here in NYC, it’s much more difficult to determine a pattern. How can it be the mark of your uniqueness and super mainstream at the same time? Why is it still a thing? Why is it still meaningful (if it is, at all)? Because you get to make a statement on your body? Of your body? Because you get to (re)create yourself, like God or something? Could it be that Americans love tattoos so much because God is so important in their everyday life? (It’s unbelievable how often you come across a poorly executed Christ or Virgin Mary). But I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to alter the body God gave you, so…

Well, maybe it’s much simpler than that. Maybe it’s juste because, even in the heart of Manhattan, every American is still, if only a little bit, a bored small-town fatty from Arkansas…

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