One of the authors many bad tattoos
  • One of the author’s many bad tattoos

People who don’t like tattoos often ask people who have tattoos, “Do you know what that’s going to look like when you’re 80?” Ignoring the subtle, mean-spirited passive aggression of the question, I probably agree: yeah, they’re almost definitely going to look terrible. The first tattoo I ever got—a cartoonish fairy/angel/devil girl from a sketch by the front man of the Canadian indie rock group Eric’s Trip that I was obsessed with throughout my teens—is 17 years old, which is almost as old as I was when I got it, and the delicate shading meant to evoke pencil on paper that looked so incredible and lifelike when it was new it has already faded, the lines blending together into a slightly blurry blue-black mass. Between that and the tattoos that I’ve seen on elderly men, I have no illusion that anything inked on my skin is going to look like anything but a vague suggestion of what it looks like now. And that’s fine by me.