It was a moment in the history of the Western World unlike any other.
That is, in the history of the Western World in the immediate vicinity of one Starbucks Coffee Shop in Bala-Cynwyd, Pennsylvania within a four-foot radius of my son Brandon and me on August 14, 2015. As the young woman barista brought our coffees to us on that day, my eyes were drawn to a tattoo of an apparent butterfly on the underside of her left arm and before I could control myself, by God, it was out of my mouth!
"That's a pretty tattoo," I said.
"Oh, thank you," she replied.
"Dad!" exclaimed Brandon as we walked out of her earshot, "That's a major breakthrough!"
"I guess it is," I said modestly. "I did actually like it, but I'm not sure how or why."
I'm a boomer and I've never understood the allure of tattoos. Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, tattoos were generally worn by the shorter-haired folks we called greasers, sworn enemies of the freaks and pseudo freaks. The standard tattoo was a skull and crossbones, a crude rendering of Jesus, or a heart with the name of a likely long-replaced girlfriend emblazoned through the middle.
A few hippies had tattoos, but they were as few in number as there were un-smoked roaches in my apartment at the end of a Friday evening. Our rock heroes did not have them, the cool people we aspired to be like did not have them, and the hot chicks I never had the guts to approach that I'm still kicking myself about 40 years later certainly did not have them as well.
But times have changed and tattoos today proliferate like Republican presidential candidates. My son doesn't have one but he has friends who do, and he's told me none of them are greasers, bikers, or intoxicated sailors just waking up after a long weekend's shore leave.
In fact Brandon has constantly admonished me to stop spreading negative vibes about tattoos, but until now I've virtually carried a soapbox with me to be ready for the opportunity. And I would constantly find that opportunity whenever we encountered someone whose body was marked up like the first draft of a 1970s term paper.
But today something had changed and without my even knowing it.
"So what brought that on, Dad?" said Brandon, as we return now to the greatest history making moment in a Starbucks since someone was able to readily afford a latte.
"I dunno," I answered. "It just slipped out of me naturally as something to say. Like thanks for the coffee, have a nice day, or do you have an attractive mom in my demographic?"
"What that means," said Brandon, "is you now accept tattoos as a legitimate expression of someone's personality, even if you would never choose that mode of expression yourself."
And he was right. I was able at last to see the attractiveness in something that my pre-conceived notions wouldn't allow me to see before. Now I saw the colors and the artistry that I had for so long confused with the skull and crossbones from days gone majorly by.
So it seems I've made a Tattoo Breakthrough. But would I actually get one myself? Have I made a Tattoo Break on through to the other side?
Nah, I'm not ready for any of that. And I still don't like tattoos which envelop someone's body like a well-used etch-a-sketch. But if you're a boomer and you want a simple not-too-sizable tattoo, I won't say a discouraging word.
In fact, I'll help you pick it out.
I might even like it.