Wrong Reasons to Get a Tattoo with One or Two Decent Ones

There are three main reasons why I want a tattoo.

1. Why not? My body does not house a soul. My body is not a temple. It’s the product of millions of years of random mutations that amazingly have worked out in my favor, unlike 99 percent of other species that have ever existed on this planet. Which is not to say that the body is not a beautiful thing. (Black, indeed, is beautiful.) But, I’m much more inclined to take it, abuse it. Who cares? Let’s ink this shit up!

Over the holidays, I went to an Ugly Sweater Party.  There, I enjoyed a full arsenal of adult and celebratory beverages, including a  “Dr. Peppermint” made of Dr. Pepper and Schnapps, two cups of eggnog, a Bud Light Plantium, a shot of tequila  a Jack and Coke, a shot of whiskey and a Brooklyn Lager. And guess what?  The next morning, I woke up and felt like a Winter Solstice. Because my body doesn’t have an opinion. So if I put “ONLYGODCANJUDGEME” across my chest, it has no choice but to say, Cool. Let’s do it again.

2. I hate commitment. If my life was made into a course at a local community college, the first lesson would be “How Robert Wohner hates commitment”. He hates committing to Jesus Christ. Being Facebook Official. Buying a monthly Metrocard.

Now. What better way to learn about commitment than by learning to brand myself with something I am forced to live with forever? Baby steps.

3. I’m an artist. I’m a baller. Artists and ballers have tattoos.

To those that know me, they’d all say that I’m not the tattoo type. I am the child of a minister. I’m black but I love Frasier. I live and have lived a straight-laced life. Pre-Dr. Peppermint, obviously. But all this doesn’t change the fact that  I want a tattoo!

Strangely, despite my governing life philosophy, I’m very particular on what I would get and an answer has not presented itself of what this tattoo should be. The obvious choices would be something involving Jackie Robinson, Coldplay, or Moulin Rouge.  “42” would combine my love for Jackie and be an homage to a decent-to-good Coldplay song. Still, if I’m getting a tattoo, I’d need it to be good-to-hell-yeah. Moulin Rouge is my shit, but having SPECTACULARSPECTACULAR on my arm is like having a permanent Facebook status on my body. Which is pretty epic and awesome. But it’s also corny.  It’s a tough decision I talk about a lot.

Now, In between my shot of tequilla and jack and coke, the discussion turned to tattoos. Mauricio, our older and worldlier friend, displayed his new edition to his Ecuadorian bird. All together, it was the perfect tattoo to celebrate the Mayans at the end of the world. It featured a temple and leaves and color and a bird. Plus he has muscles, which enhances the tattoo in ways I couldn’t have done. But overall, it was a baller tattoo.

Of course, Mauricio is the one who should get a tattoo. He goes to electronic music festivals. He wears tank tops. He has a tattoo with a Dios de las Muertos mask with a smile made of corn on the cob. He’s the truth. I, while a fan of corn, am not.

Perhaps I’m giving him too much credit. I’m cooler than plenty of people that have tattoos. Helen Miren has a tattoo and she’s way cooler than Mauricio. At the end of the day,  a tattoo is a tattoo is a tattoo.

The problem isn’t that I’m not the kind of person to get a tattoo. Really, it’s that I’ve nothing to tattoo. I love Coldplay. Maybe Eli Manning. Nothig tattooable though. I’ve no image, no memory, no person that I cherish so much that it can’t find a pace. I’ve no family, no religion, no corny memories or trauma that deserves any inking.


I saw a picture this week on Facebook. Canadian band Metric shared an image of a super fan who’d tattooed the face of sun-glasses wearing, microphone holding singer Emily Haines. It’s a ridiculous tattoo. Utterly ridiculous. Whatever a tattoo person is, this man definitely didn’t need to belong.

Secretly though, I’m jealous of this Swissman. I, like him, love Emily Haines’ music. She’s an artist whose talent and vision I admire. But I’d never put that photo on my body. No way. And yet he believes in the music of Emily Haines and Metric enough to carry it with him to the end of his life. That’s pretty corny but that’s pretty fucking cool.

The reason I want a tattoo is because I want to force myself to make a mistake. When I’m sixty, I want to look any shred of evidence proving that when I was young, I was passionate about something that I wanted to make it last forever.

So even now, maybe I don’t want a tattoo. It’s an example of “Not that I would. But I could.” I probably don’t really want a tattoo. I just want something in my life worth tattooing.

Note: I wrote this months ago. I’ve decided on Spectacular, Spectacular. Written in French. Maybe. But yeah. Going with that. 


One thought on “Wrong Reasons to Get a Tattoo with One or Two Decent Ones”

  1. I rarely leave comments on the internet any more, these days. But I wanted to thank you. Tomorrow I’ll be inked with a design I’ve been sitting on for five years, and the second last paragraph you (beautifully) wrote dispelled the final shreds of nervousness, and cemented this decision. Thank you.

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