Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Tattoos That Stay With You.

I used to work with a guy who had his own name tattooed on his forearm. It was on the inside of his arm, between elbow and wrist, and took up about two-thirds of the available space. It said “Scott…”

I asked him why he had chosen to get his own name inked on him, and why he hadn’t had it done in Chinese or some other less-obvious language or style. He told me that “then no-one would know what it says,” as if I was an idiot for not thinking of that.

He may have had a point, but he also became the source of much ridicule and conjecture in the years I knew him. We theorised that possibly his tattoo was incomplete, the ellipsis there at the end to signify “to be continued.” Maybe it was an attempt at poetry, from a man who proudly announced that he had never read a book in his life – “Scott, dot dot dot.”

Perhaps he was so forgetful that it posed problems, and his solution was a permanent reminder of his own first name written in an easy-to-read location.

At a social event, a friend of mine asked him his name. He gestured to his ink and made some disparaging remark. My friend’s response was to apologise, countering “when meeting someone for the first time, and not knowing their name, my initial reaction is not usually to look at their arm to see if they’ve got it tattooed there.”

I did eventually find out the reason for the dots, quite by chance.

It was my birthday night out, some years later, and I was drinking with the former Scenic Artist from that venue. He explained that he had designed the tattoo, writing it out in an artistically-pleasing font. When he finished, he habitually did his trademark run-off, and trailed it out in a series of dots. He demonstrated this on a tattoo of his own, a star, where all the points ended with a row of dots.

Scott had got those tattooed too.

The joke might be on us, of course – a tattoo should be striking and memorable, and we certainly all remember it…




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