Thursday, December 20, 2007


A bouquet of roses on the thigh of a woman who'd been a whore in Paris during the second world war.

A shirt and shorts of Japanese history on a pierced guy about my age in for back surgery. "Will the incision mess up my art?"

The names of three children arranged in a biohazard sign on the bicep of a Marine.

Tiny parachuting stick figures and a crudely-rendered plane on the upper arm of a man who'd been a Russian paratrooper during WWII.

Four dots on the foot of a woman with a huge brain injury.

A teardrop on the left cheek of a man who'd been shot in the head.

Two, in the same week: one on the inside of the left forearm, from Monowitz. One, upper left chest, tattooed all at once earlier in the war, from Auschwitz I.

Umpteeen trails of barbed wire around biceps.

A dragon over a mastectomy scar.

The names of four children, all born dead, winding around an ankle.

One very well-padded woman on the chest of a Korean war veteran. He was embarrassed to let me see it, thinking I'd be offended.

I wish I could take a camera to work.


Anonymous said...

Jo you always write about the beautiful & unusual in such a beautiful & unusual way -- I really enjoy it.

shrimplate said...

Never take a camera to work.

Here in the valley a surgical head-resident was recently shit-canned for taking a snap of a strip-joint owner who had "hot rod" tattooed on his prong.

The offendee was being prepped for a chole when the res took the pic. Now the res is going to be collecting cans along the highway for the rest of his life for that little lapse of judgement.

While, of course, Mr.-hot-rod tattoooed-on-his-wiener will likely be handsomely rewarded for his clever life choice.

Anonymous said...

I had read about the Surgical Resident. He was stupid to take that pic and pass it around though. I think the fact he took it while the patient was anesthetised was the main issue. If he had asked his permission, Mr Hot Rod would probably have been thrilled to whip it out for a photo op.

Cuttlefish said...

2 friends...

One friend's grandmother had a tattoo the Germans gave her. She never showed it. She was proud, and a survivor, and her grand-daughter decided because of her that she would never ever have a tattoo, no matter how popular it was with her generation. I respect my friend, and her grandmother... and it is only because of them that I understand another....

One friend's father had a tattoo the Germans gave him. Like my other friend's grandmother, it was a simple series of numbers. Unlike her, he never hid his. He wore short sleeves, even in winter; I was too young to understand why. His sons and daughter were my friends; I was too young and naive to see why so few others were their friends.

I find tattoos interesting, but not a tenth so interesting as the stories behind them.

I understand why you want to take a camera to work... I am glad you take your brain to work, and thus take us with you.

Anonymous said...

My tattoos are visible in a bathing suit, but not in normal clothing. Consequently, I have rather startled a couple doctors, not expecting a full backpiece in glorious detail on an otherwise normal appearing working class woman.

I just hope I never have to have back surgery.