I read an article by a girl that seems to think inking her arm puts her out of the hands of the nostalgic. It does not. She made the argument that you cannot put your hands on a Van Gogh – and if you could, would it make it any more enjoyable? The difference is we, as people, are not the walls of a museum. We are mobile. We bring the paintings, and the nostalgia, to dive bars, clubs, movie theatres, and anywhere else that people frequent. When strangers marvel at the things we have chosen to immortalize on our skin, they are sharing in the very reason we chose to do so ourselves. Intrusive, or not. Deal with it. On my arms are Calvin & Hobbes, Atari, Ghostbusters and pre-Michael Bay Transformers. (Yes, I have to endure the question of if I am a fan of the movies. No, I am not a fan of the movies.)
Granted, I am not a woman. The touch of other human beings is rarely “creepy” to me. I do not find it intrusive, or off-putting when people grab my arm and want to show it off to their buddies. I accept the fact that I have painted on my skin a collage of things from my childhood. It is imagery that people born in the same era would naturally share. There are no velvet ropes here. There is no guard armed only with a CB radio to say “please stand back.” While there may exist an unspoken rule about touching strangers, I accept the fact that I have invited the attention. So be it. Part of me enjoys it when it isn’t about Michael Bay. When a person tells me, “Dude, I had ALL those Calvin books,” I am happy to find out that there is another person with whom I share that bond. They are saying to me, “I remember how Bill Waterson captured childhood, and how I was able to lose myself in those comics, knowing that I was just as imaginative, just as free-spirited and whimsical as Calvin.”
More so, we display our interests outwardly. People are not probing us. They do not ask, “Hey, random stranger, did you read Calvin & Hobbes as a child?” We have already told them. We have put it out there, like a skywriter, like a news ticker in Times Square, that we enjoy this specific thing. To blame people for reacting is argumentative, at best.
Of course, it is not always welcome. We are creatures of mood. Who knows when or where we will feel comfortable or willing to connect verbally with these grabby strangers? But, I am not a woman, and I do not want to pretend to know what the difference would be. I am not scorned, nor do I have “daddy issues,” so politeness, more often than not, is how I deal with the moments when I do not feeling like explaining why I have certain things tattooed on myself. I simply say, “Hey, thanks, man! Calvin was the best!” Or, “Yeah, I actually HAD an Atari 7800 – remember that shit?” I give a polite smile and move on.
So, here’s some advice to that writer: if you know you’re going to be around a group of people that may share in your memories, for fuck’s sake, just wear a long-sleeve shirt and stop bitching about how people react to your outward display of interests.