Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What St Francis and the animals don't mind

The whole point of a temporary tattoo is that it is temporary. That would make sense to me. But it is not that simple. Temporary tattoos are temporary if you happen to have make-up remover in the house. If you do not, and you are unwilling to scrub your granddaughter’s arm with a pumice stone or an SOS pad, then you must consider the tattoos as temporarily permanent.

It was the feast of St. Francis, and I thought it would be a good idea to remove beloved granddaughter’s faux tattoos before we went to church for The Blessing of the Animals. Which probably shows you how shallow I am. Would God or the rector mind that a five-year-old is sporting faux tattoos? Not at all. Nor should they. Would St Francis or the animals? Ditto.
But I really wanted those tattoos off her soft little arm. Perhaps now is not the time to explore my feelings about tattoos, almost entirely a result of my daughter’s tattoos, each and every one of which I consider to be far less beautiful than the skin it currently mars. Maybe all mothers think this is the case, but in my case it is an absolute fact, that my daughter had and has the most beautiful pale and soft skin imaginable. What is not imaginable – to me – is why she would willingly allow herself to be pricked, dyed and scarified by some random tattoo “artist” who may be suffering from any number of infectious diseases and is surely suffering from a good-taste-deficiency. No, it does not matter to me in the least if her tattoos are ‘interesting’ or ‘tasteful’ (the alphabet in Czech modernist font?). What matters to me is her skin. No matter how much I love Moby Dick, the fact that Queequeg was covered with tattoos does not strike me as a good reason for my child to get a tattoo. She is not a South Sea Island whaler, nor is she a cannibal.

I thought I was not going to rant about tattoos. And lest anyone get the idea that I an prejudiced or narrow-minded, you should know that last week CSB and I went to the opening of Tattoo Flash at the very cool Lift Truck Project in Croton Falls. To be honest, I went because it was curated by my friend the poet Pam Hart and not because of an intrinsic fascination with the subject, because I do not have such an intrinsic fascination. But I discovered the wonderful stories of the early tattooists and their close connection to seaports and circuses. Of the tattoo flashes, I especially liked the buxom dames with Indian headdresses.
There were no wolves at our little church’s Blessing of the Animals, but we did have 1 rabbit in a hamper, 2 gerbils, at least 4 hermit crabs, a white cockatoo, a green and yellow parakeet (or parrot, I can’t tell the difference), 1 live cat, 2 photographs of cats too fearful to come out and play with all the dogs, and many dogs of all sizes and ilks, including one of ours. Bruno had to absorb the blessing for his rowdier sister in absentia. There were also about 12 honeybees, in a small jar in my pocket, and they too had to stand in for their thousands of sisters. Cherished granddaughter held the cockatoo’s cage for much of the service.
Should I tell her that on most Sundays there are not so many animals at church?

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