I am the proud owner of a brand new tattoo (it's still healing), thanks to my kind and gracious friend Julie and her unique wedding gift to my wife and I, and as a result I've had tattoos on the brain for the last couple weeks.
Those of you who have tattoos know that a) it's addictive, and b) when you have a new one, you spend a lot of time checking it out. So given these facts, it's understandable that I've been dwelling on the idea of tattoos for a while.
I have two very patient, loving and open minded parents who accept me for who I am. Even so, I know they weren't exactly thrilled when I got my first one, and I'm sure they're not elated that I've gotten another. If they were to accept the fact that I plan to get several more as well, I'm sure they would be even less ecstatic. But they take it in stride, because they know me. They know what kind of man I am, and so long as I'm not getting a swastika on my chest or something stupid like a face tattoo, I'm sure they'll continue to bite their lips and sigh. Which is a hell of a lot better than some people get.
There are a good many people out there who genuinely believe that getting a tattoo is a sin, and might send you straight to hell. The reasons for this are varied, I'm sure, but the one we're all most familiar with is the old adage that "The Body is a Temple", and therefore a tattoo is somehow a desecration of that temple.
My opinion on this is as follows: Who among us has been to a temple that is not decorated with the symbols and iconography that express the faith the temple was built to celebrate? I, for one, am used to seeing stained glass windows, classic Orthodox icons, crucifixes, elaborate candelabras and censers in the temples I visit. In both the Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions (of which I am a part-time participant of both), it is traditional to have churches filled with such icons, to serve as points of reflection for one's faith. If icons and crucifixes were tattoos, my churches would be as covered as a Yakuza boss.
So according to what I believe to be temple protocol, I choose to tastefully adorn my body with symbols that celebrate who I am and what I believe in. And yes, Super Mario falls easily into that category. To any who have known me through the years of my exile, it's clear that Mario (and my beautiful wife's accompanying tattoo of Yoshi) are elegant symbols that will always remind us of this time in our life, when we were newlyweds, separated from our families by the vicissitudes of circumstance, left to entertain ourselves in a lonely world where we had no firm purchase of friend or family. And, c'mon... Mario is cool. It's an enduring icon of the culture of 80's kids. One my children will recognize as easily as I recognized Elvis before I ever knew a thing about him. And that counts for something.
I realize that this article comes off as somewhat defensive, so let me dispel any rumors that I am a) having second thoughts, or b) bearing the brunt of someone's disapproval. Quite simply, this is just another example of the purpose of this blog. I, like many, often find myself occupying the quieter moments of my life having imaginary arguments with imaginary aggressors, as a way of clarifying my own thoughts and opinions. The purpose of this blog is to take those types of internal musings, those conversations with myself, and put them to good use. I'm trying to be a serious writer. This is the warm up stretch before the marathon I'm about to run with my first novel. So you can keep your little armchair diagnosis of hidden regrets!
And if you believe in something to the point where it defines you as a person, even if only in one chapter of your life, don't be afraid to decorate your temple with a symbol that will celebrate who you are.