Tell me somebodys never going to regret this.
  • Rex Douglas
  • Tell me he’s never going to regret this.

The only image I ever actually considered inking into my skin was a Reader illustration. I can’t find it now—and I may have it completely wrong in my head—but I think it was drawn by the estimable Tom Herzberg sometime in the late 1980s and showed a baby floating among clouds. I had an idea that I might get two copies of that baby tattooed on my left bicep, one for each of my sons.

It was partly a joke, of course—a riff on those flag decals World War II fighter pilots used to stick alongside their cockpits every time they downed an enemy plane. I’d made successful hits on two ova. But there was also an at least semiserious calculation involved. As far as I could see, fatherhood was one of the very few things about my life that couldn’t be undone. I could get unmarried and stop writing. I could renounce my citizenship, reject my religion, and repudiate my favorite works of art. Putting a picture of Jimmy Stewart on my calf may prove embarrassing some day, however much I like It’s a Wonderful Life. But nothing is ever going to cancel out the fact that I had a part in creating two new souls. No way, no how. I couldn’t shake that if I wanted to, and I don’t. So, yes, two babies would do fine.

Which is why I’m a little mystified at how far the fashion for tattoos has gone.