Ask Matt Labash

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

Matt Labash Columnist

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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).
Matt, my son’s batting average dropped a little this year. Do you think it’s from my son catching way too many games, or his overbearing father explaining to him how to hit?  Please consult. – Patrick Hilboldt

I hate to sound like one of those New P.E. drips, since I’ve personally taken great pains to discredit them. You didn’t specify whether your son is a Little-Leaguer or playing high school ball. But that doesn’t really matter. For what is he playing? A game. I used to play children’s games too, but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (Google that, it’s biblical.)

Now, I no longer play baseball and basketball and football, unless I’m throwing the ball around with my own sons in the yard or shooting hoops in the driveway. Nor do I even push them that hard to play organized sports, since they are non-joiners by nature (a characteristic I prize above namby-pamby notions such as playing by the rules and teamwork). Sports provide both discipline and memorable experiences, plus they’re fun, and so are worth it for those reasons alone. I played them a lot when I was a kid, and they served their purpose during my chidlhood. But in the long run, did they really equip me for the game of life? I’m fairly certain that your son’s batting average dropping a few points doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the adult games which lie before him, games like cheating on his taxes, sabotaging his co-workers, and acing his siblings out of inheritance money. So ease up on him a bit.

The trick to being a good hitter, like the trick to anything, is to play loose and to not overthink it. (Also, steroids don’t hurt.) But if your son knows his old man is in the stands, hyper-scrutinizing his every move, he’s going to tighten up, and that will adversely affect his hitting. So maybe bite your tongue, and let him have fun while there’s still fun to have. I want you to tell him – and you can quote me on this – to hold on to sixteen, as long as he can. Changes come around real soon, make us women and men.
Matt, would it be unethical or smart for me to use my deafness to lure women, get into grad school, and become an unproductive member of society? In my defense, it’s my “race card.” –  Philip

So you’re suggesting that people who play the race card are, by definition, unproductive members of society? I’m not saying it’s right to play the race card, but we all play the advantages we are dealt. I, for instance, got this gig by playing the straight card. I am the only straight person who writes for The Daily Caller. Am I a token? Yes, probably. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have contributions to make by bringing my unique straight perspective to bear on the issues of the day.

That said, minorities are born minorities and I was born heterosexual. We can’t run away from who we are. Whereas, you can color me skeptical about your deafness. I don’t really think people are born deaf. I think it’s a learned behavior. If it’s not, then why do all “deaf” people talk the same way? Maybe if you stopped flapping your hands around so much, it’d be easier to listen. But if that’s your shtick, do whatever works for you. Go ahead and mention it on your grad school application. But whatever you do, don’t tell your special gal pal that you’re deaf. Most women just want someone to listen to them, to understand. You can pretend to do so, without actually having to. Just nod your head a lot in agreement, while thinking about your master’s thesis. You’re going to make some young lady very happy.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” was published this spring by Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.