Tattoos Talk

Throughout history, tattoos have spoken about clan/tribe membership, manhood, remembrance, love, travel, pain, endurance and just silliness. They send messages to all who are able to interpret. And they are often misunderstood.

From prehistoric times, people tattooed themselves to show membership in a clan or family. Although ancient Chinese criminals were tattooed to warn people of their unworthy ways.

Ancient Egyptians used tattoos as decorative art and medical treatment.

Tattooing is an integral part of the Samoan culture and the word tattoo is thought to have evolved from the Samoan word ‘tatau’.

During Greek and Roman times tattooing was done to criminals, prisoners of war and slaves as a mark of their status. Also some soldiers tattooed themselves.

Tattoos were only common in the military and entertainment business during the 20th century. Many sailors had anchors as a sort of initiation right. A turtle would mean he had crossed the equator and a swallow meant a journey of 5000 miles.

Throughout the 1920’s cosmetic tattoos became more popular for women. Common makeup tattoos included eyebrow and lip liner. But mostly still remained common among so-called outcasts such as sailors, circus performers and criminals.

In the 1930’s, social security numbers appeared and everyone was told to memorize the number. Many resorted to tattooing the number on their body to have rapid access to it. But tattoos were still not socially not acceptable.

1940’s saw color added to tattoos. Tattoos were mostly patriotic, nautical and military during those years. The war years saw an increase in tattooing especially in women.

1950’s was the “bad boys” era of tattoos, which added to the negative stigma.

The 1960’s tattoo parlors were blamed, rightly or wrongly, for an increase in Hepatitis. However, there was an increase in tattooed celebrities.

1970’s saw the peace movement, symbols and messages in tattoos become very popular. Tattooing in general became more mainstream.

By the 21st century, tattooing was common with designs getting more colorful, bigger, smaller, more whimsical, more meaningful, on every part of the body.

I, for one, am fascinated by tattoos. I ask every waiter and waitress to tell me about their tattoos. The stories are amazing!

The majority are memorials to a family member or a dear friend. How many grandmothers are remembered in beautiful ink, I can’t even tell you. The tattoos speak of a love and a reverence in such a special way – and no words are necessary.

I’ve seen many love tattoos, some membership tattoos, several religious, a couple birthday but never any hateful or negative tattoos. I’ve never seen any threatening or troubling designs. I have seen skulls, swords and knives but never felt any danger from them or the person wearing the tattoo. It was all art and well done, I might add.

Yes, tattoos speak and they speak to me. They tell me of loves, memories, relationships, faith and joy. I’ve been looking at them and getting their stories for years and years. I’ve been studying and wondering for years and years. I’ve been envious and curious for years and years.

Finally, I’m ready.

Yes, my sweeties.

Granny is getting a tattoo!

Reaching Down

Gramps and I were at a musical competition last week where Mac’s high school band competed with twenty others for marching and visual effect awards. Their show was an eight minute interpretation of “Primal” with red eight foot “claw” props, red plumes on their hats and red “claw” marks across their vests. It’s a very colorful strong presentation with lots of bass and drums to give it that deep taste of nature.

The competition began early in the morning with the preliminary level and all twenty bands performing. By 4 pm, we had the scores and knew who would go on to finals that evening. Mac’s band came in third overall. Only the top ten bands would go to finals.

We were happy and pleased with the outcome. The band, however, felt they could have done better. The pep talk that they gave themselves that afternoon was very interesting.

“We can do better.”

“Tighten up!”

“Reach down inside and pull out the best of yourself!”

“See yourself doing your best.”

“Stay sharp!”

They encouraged each other and themselves. Teenagers psyching themselves up. It was a marvel to witness. It was a pleasure to learn from the young.

They spent the next several hours before finals having fun, eating and resting. Then it was time to get into the practice line-up, which takes more than an hour. Before long they were on the field, performing the show they had performed so many times before, but with a new enthusiasm. They did it the best I’d ever seen – tighter, crisper, louder, softer and brighter than ever, or so it seemed.

After the magical eight minutes were over, they changed into their civvies and watched the remainder of the bands. The kids cheered and applauded with great energy, and shouted out to friends on the field. They were very excited when fellow players performed well and displayed great marching skills.

At the end of the evening, finals scores were announced.

Tenth through Fourth Place – not Mac’s school.

Third Place – not Mac’s school. We began to hope we had moved to Second Place.

Second Place – not Mac’s school. Oh my gosh! Could it be?

First Place – Mac’s school!!!!

They had really done it! They had gone from Third Place to First Place in one day! They had reached down and pulled it up, as they told themselves. The kids were beside themselves in delight! The director and parents were proud as peacocks!

And at least two grandparents were wishing they knew how to do somersaults!

How To Watch A Football Game When All You Came For Is The Halftime Show

Gramps and I have a seventeen-year-old grandson Mac, who plays sousaphone in a somewhat local high school band. From late September to early November there is a football game every week on Thursday or Friday night. His band performs a show during halftime of every game.

We attend each and every football game just to see the halftime show and most specifically to see Mac march and do his thing. We arrive early to get good seats near where the band sits. We like to sit up high because the sousaphones are usually placed along the back row in the stadium seating and we like to be close to Mac.

We also like the view of the show from high in the stands. This year Mac starts on the thirty-yard line and we always sit along that line so we can keep an eye on him.

Getting to the game early also offers us an opportunity to hear the band warm up. That is great fun. I especially love to hear the percussion section and all their cadences.

The band heralds in the football players, plays the school song, the National Anthem and the game begins.

First Quarter – We cheer the football team and encourage all their efforts. The school has a good team this year and seems to be winning most games. A lot of touchdowns are being made, which means the band is playing the school Fight Song quite often during the game. We love to hear the sousaphone part!

Second Quarter – The band plays numerous tunes during the game and the cheerleaders cheer and the high-kick team dances and the students and fans yell. It’s all very exciting!

Halfway into the quarter the band leaves the stands to warm up for the halftime show. They divide into sections – percussion, horns, woodwinds, pit and color guard. All kinds of sound and flurry come from the end zone, as everyone prepares for their eight-minute performance.

Suddenly whistles are blown, football players clear the field and the band, with all their instruments and props, runs out to begin the show.

Gramps and I have seen it numerous times but somehow it is better every time. The kids only know one way to do it – all out with all they’ve got, at 100% effort.

Bands from both schools play. It is a most impressive performance. These kids are as much athletes as the football players. A standing ovation is given for both bands, deservedly so.

While our band is executing their show on field, the other band politely stands at one end zone and watches. The same is done for the opposing band. Bands often “talk” to each other across the field with music, will dance to each other’s tunes and play fun challenge games back and forth. It’s all done in fun with a lot of laughter.

Third Quarter – Most of this quarter Mac is free to come over and visit us in the stands. Gramps and I really enjoy this part the best. We get to hug, kiss, talk, cuddle and laugh. On cold nights we snuggle under our blanket.

Mac knows exactly when he needs to return to his seat. He will suddenly jump up. “Gotta go”, he says. And back he returns to the sea of uniformed young people who all look like him.

Fourth Quarter – We rarely see a fourth quarter of a football game. We have seen everything we came to see – Mac, sousaphones, band show, more Mac, some football.

By now the score is usually about 43-7 or something like that. It seems our team can’t lose. Nothing more to do.

Time to go home.