Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash Vol. XXVII: An anti-tattoo manifesto, letting kids be kids, and playing the deaf card

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Matt Labash
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      Matt Labash

      Hi, welcome to “Ask Matt Labash.” I’ll be your host, Matt Labash. The idea for this column – if idea isn’t too strong a word – is that it is not a column at all. Rather, it’s a conversation. One in which I do ninety-five percent of the talking. If you did most of the talking, you’d have to watch my eyes go dead and my attention wander until it was my turn to talk again. So trust me, it’s better this way.

      For those unfamiliar with me from my day job at The Weekly Standard, I’ll give you a capsule bio by way of introduction: I have the gift of wisdom. Does that sound arrogant? I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t choose wisdom. It chose me. If I had my druthers, I’d have chosen another gift, perhaps the untold riches of Lil’ Wayne, whose teeth are made of actual diamonds, or to be the sexiest man alive, like Rachel Maddow. But wisdom is what they gave me, so wisdom is all I have to give back to you.

      This is not, you should know, a mere advice column. If you need advice, I’ll give it. But the only rule here is that there are no rules. You can ask me a question about anything that’s on your mind: current events, pop culture, media, theology, string theory, fishing tips, wicker repair. The only limits we have are those of your imagination. And those of my knowledge base. Which is considerably limited, truth be told. So try not to ask me anything that requires research. Though they tell me I have access to Google on this computer if we need it.

      If all goes according to plan, ours will not be a traditional writer/reader relationship. It’s more complex than that. I might empathize or cajole. I might educate, instruct, or inspire. I might pretend to answer your question while actually reporting you to Social Services, since you’re a dangerous person who should not have contact with children. I might tell you to climb up on my shoulders, that you’re not heavy, you’re my brother. Or I might tell you that you are heavy, and that you should hop down until you lose a few pounds. I might just sidle up behind you, put my big strong man hands on the small of your back, and whisper in your ear the words of the poet, Kenny Rogers: “We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?”

      To which you’ll say something like, “I can’t, I’ve got to go home and wash my hair.”
      To which I’ll say something like, “Shhh. We’ve got tonight babe, why don’t you stay?”
      Wherever this takes us, our journey begins now:

      <i>Matt Labash is a senior writer with The Weekly Standard. His first book, <a href="">Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys</a> will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.</i>

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

I am a woman. Should I get a tattoo? – Kate

I am a man. Let’s make a baby.

I kid, of course, because I would be functionally unable to make babies with tattooed women. I don’t know when, exactly, the entire world decided they needed to get inked like a bunch of porn stars, but I’m against it. There was a time long ago — let’s call it “the eighties” — when the only people who wore tattoos were people who had a story to tell, usually a hard-luck one, which involved them killing somebody, or getting touched inappropriately by their dad. That is a perfectly acceptable use of a tattoo: as a billboard for your pain or as a reminder of your murderousness.

Nowadays, the story most often goes: I am a 36-year-old upper-middle-class white woman, skidding into 40, and now that I have grown bored with my McMansion, and taking Jackson and Mackenzie to lacrosse practice, and of my fat husband climbing on top of me twice a week, I think I’ll sexify my life by getting a butterfly stamped above my ass, or a Chinese character that I can’t even read emblazoned on the side of my neck. (Which probably says  “this nitwit thinks she’s Allen Iverson” in Mandarin.)

It’s unbecoming. It’s unsexy. And it’s not an expression of your individuality. How could it be, when every other person has one?  It reminds me of the hobbyist “bikers,” who buy their Harley, then immediately plunk down a few hundred bucks on the same black leather chaps and vests as an expression of their rugged individualism. When they’re anything but individuals, looking like every other cookie-cutter wannabe, holding on for dear life from their ape hangers. You want to be an individual? Hop off your Harley and walk into a real biker bar in a golf shirt and Hagar dress slacks. Then tell the barkeep you want something “citrus-y, with an umbrella in it.” I have not yet met the man who has that kind of courage. But when I do, I will not trifle with him. He is dangerous.

If you are a woman, and want to get a discreet tattoo for your lover, fine. Just get it some place where we can’t see it. Like your cervix. But no screaming eagles, no tramp stamps, nothing on your back, neck, arms, legs, feet, ankles, etc. God gave you beautiful, luminescent skin, and if He didn’t, there’s always Susan Lucci’s Youthful Essence® Personal Microdermabrasion System . You’re a woman. You’re a work of art. Don’t deface yourself. Do you ever look at an architectural wonder, the Parthenon or the Roman Aqueducts, and think to yourself, “You know what would really enhance those? Graffiti. If the Ink Assassins came through and bombed it with Celtic Knots or a Maori tribal design, then those things would really sing.” Of course you don’t. It sounds ridiculous. Though no more ridiculous than when you get an ink anklet.

Here’s a tattoo rule of thumb: Only get one if your job entails shooting people, if you’re an ultimate fighter, or as a safety issue, if you find yourself wrongly incarcerated, and displaying your affiliation with the Aryan Brotherhood will help make prison showers less eventful. Otherwise, let your skin go commando. Particularly if you’re a woman. For if you don’t, I have seen your future, and it looks like this (NSFW).

  • Cory Armbrecht

    Wow, this is unbelievable. Incredibly one-sided (which I take it MUST be the point) Would graffiti look good on the Parthenon? Probably not, unless it was a skilled graffiti artist. But I bet it would look AMAZING with a mural! I would say the majority of tattoos in today’s younger generation are more akin to murals than graffiti. Just because you don’t approve of them doesn’t mean you have to call every woman that does a porn star-murderer. Most people (under the age of, oh, the average age of overly-conservative Republicans) I know find well done tattoos on women extremely sexy. I agree with the first guy, have fun staying boring and closed-old-testament-minded, it won’t bother the rest of us.

    • ArianaHuffingPaint

      You should tattoo this whole stupid post on your face.

    • jemb66

      WOW you really have to lighten up! I wonder how long your reply would be if it were something that mattered?

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  • flataffect


    No, but don’t expect others to know the difference.

    • pipandbaby

      That’s fine, because I don’t either.

  • pipandbaby

    I have a tattoo, but it’s from a sewing needle and india ink. Does that make me an ex-con?

    • ArianaHuffingPaint

      No, it makes you a Hepatitis C patient.