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July 08, 2004



Hi Hugo, I’ve been highly entertained by your blog for a few months now. I have to admit that in actuality, I rarely agree with you, but find your entries thought provoking and heart felt…and quite often, hilarious. Your blog has become part of my morning routine along with coffee and newspapers. If I may, I’d like to jump into this conversation.

I find it interesting that people still find tattooing and body piercing to be questionable practices. The notion that tattoos and piercing were acquired “before”…we grew up, found salvation, got married, whatever…is kind of antiquated. When I met my husband, he was 28; I married him two years later. He had 1 tattoo. We stopped counting them after the 12th. All inking occurring after this 30th birthday, post marriage, while sober and saved. I got my first work done at the age of 29, as a graduation present (I don’t like being called Dr. either, but I really like to see the letters after my name!) I have gotten one every year since, not on a schedule, it has just happened that milestones I chose to mark by tattoo have occurred that way. (I just got the 4th.) We are going to get matching 10th anniversary tattoos in ‘05. My husband also has 5 piercings. I have 6. Now, you would think that we would be some crazy looking rocker couple right? In reality, we are a Hispanic J. Crew couple, with matching Jeep Cherokees and Labrador Retrievers. We don’t drink, smoke, or use profanity. We both put on suits and sit in corner offices 5 days a week and go to church (with our mothers) every Sunday. The interesting thing is that we are not unusual…in my (traditional) workplace 3 out of 5 of the directors (including myself) are under 35 and have tattoos or piercings (and interestingly enough, the three of us have something else in common, we are all female…the two male directors are both “old school” and over 55, maybe you have an explanation for this phenomenon, Hugo). I completely agree with all your reasons for being inked. Furthermore, I enjoyed the process of being tattooed. Like all accomplishments, it isn’t easy; there is planning, cost and pain involved. In the end, you have something that is both tangible and intangible, something real and something mystical, something that belongs only to you and yet you may, if you so choose, share it with others, something that is in reality a scar, but outwardly is beauty. Is there a reason why you took out your piercings? Okay, I just ranted all over your blog, my apologies. See you tomorrow…


As someone with piercings but no tattoos, I'm forced to ask what your piercings were, why you took them out, and your thoughts on the entire matter nowadays.


Black Coffee:

Thanks! I've got a lot to think about!

Curious: just the usual -- two on the chest and one in the tongue; nothing exotic.


Thanks Hugo (and Jenell). I have been experiencing some guilt over this issue for a while now. Reading your views is enabling me to form a more positive attitude toward my tattoo and to hopefully move away from feeling such regret over it.

Trish Wilson

Great post, Hugo. I thought it was interesting that you wrote about some people getting tattoos "before they grew up," as blackcoffeeblues wrote. Have you ever looked into tattooing in other cultures? Sometimes the tattoos symbolized reaching maturity, which is why I thought the "before they grew up" comment was interesting. Here's a link from a PBS show about the history of tattoos in indigenous cultures:

Skin Stories: Role of Tattoo - PBS

I vaguely remember seeing this before. I've read about moko (tattoo) amongst the Maori before. The tattoos can symbolize rank, geneology, and occupation. You can even sometimes determine tribal affiliation by the style and placement of the tattoo. All in all, very interesting. I don't think there is anything vile about tattooing at all. I myself don't have any tattoos or body piercings except for the usual boring two in my earlobes.

Trish Wilson

One more thing related to what blackcoffeeblues wrote at the end of his comment about accomplishment, cost, etc. - in the Maori, seeing the tattoos gives a message to the viewer that the person with the tattoo made it through the experience. It's also about accomplishment.


Nice post Hugo. My friend, who teaches second graders, has a pierced tongue, but takes the stud out for work. i'm curious if you did the same when you had it, or if not, what the reaction of your students was.


Thanks, Trish,for the link -- what a difference between seeing tattoos as a rite of initiation into adulthood and seeing them as adolescent rebellion and impulse!

Annika, I did teach with it -- they were a bit stunned, as they always are when they see the tats on my arm and the back of my neck for the first time. It didn't seem to compromise my authority at all -- though I had a bad lisp for the first week!

Trish Wilson

You're welcome, Hugo. The entire topic was very interesting.

jen lemen

hugo, thanks for this post.
it actually helps me a lot. i'm always thinking about a tattoo or getting my nose pierced or something as a spiritual expression of what's happening in my life, but i'm also commitment phobic (try that married with two kids) so to put it in these terms helps me along in this process.


Nice Tattoo!

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