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Commentary: Celebrating The Freedom To Tattoo Your Rear End
By Mitch Traphagen
Jul 6, 2006 - 2:02:00 PM

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Happy July! It's time once again for sweltering heat, tons of bugs that want to gnaw off chunks of skin and for mowing the lawn more than once a week. The good news is that we are starting to return to a normal summer-time pattern with rain — which makes us have to mow the lawn more.

At least what's left of the lawn. As the weeks without rain turned into months, most of my lawn died en masse. But the stuff I have left in little islands here and there seems to grow like weeds. Which makes sense, of course, because it is all weeds. But at least the weeds are green. Unlike the grass — which is a dead brown color.


Just in time for Independence Day our elected representatives managed to take on the issue of flag burning. I have to say that the idea of burning the American Flag is repulsive to me. To see it happen on the television news is something that strikes me to my very core.

But what is even more repulsive to me is the thought that a member of the government could possibly tell me that I couldn't burn it. A flag-burning ban seems so contrary to everything the Founding Fathers stood for that I am amazed every time the issue comes up. To me, the only thing more anti-American than burning the flag is trying to pass a law against burning the flag.

Not to mention there are just a few of other burning issues those elected folks could be working on these days.


Somehow I must have slept through the last cultural revolution (it wouldn't be the first time). Tattoos, apparently, have gone mainstream.

When I was growing up in the generally stoic Midwest, there were only two types of people who had tattoos: Men who had been in the service and men who had been in prison. Actually, I'm kind of making that last one up because I don't think I'd met anyone in Worthington, Minnesota, who had actually been in prison. But if I had, they would probably be easy to spot if they had tattoos. The service guys would have crew cuts and tattoos of anchors or other elaborate military-type things. The prison guys would have tattoos of scary stuff.

But no more — today it's quite possible that bank vice presidents have tattoos. And since it is summer — a time when more skin tends to be publicly visible — the extent of this phenomenon is all the more apparent.

From a very non-scientific study of (generally attractive) women made during my RV trip around the country, I have drawn the conclusion that while tattoos are everywhere, they are more prominent in southern states. Or I guess it could be that skin is generally more prominent in southern states. Regardless, we are rapidly becoming a tattooed nation.

I pulled off the freeway for fuel a couple of weeks ago and noticed a 20-some year old woman with a small child. The woman wore a short shirt that revealed a large butterfly tattooed on her lower back.

Uh huh. Today with tight 20-something skin it's a colorful butterfly. But in forty or so years when time and gravity does the inevitable work on her skin, it will be less butterfly and more science fiction creature appearing to take a bite out of her rear end.

I'll bet she'll be real happy with that tattoo then.


I am fat and happy for the most part. And because of that, I am grateful that I live in South Hillsborough. I am grateful that I am able to attend the many ceremonies held here to honor veterans and country. Those ceremonies remind me to not take things for granted.

The Fourth of July is a special time for that as well. Regardless of where you stand politically, regardless of any belief, the United States of America is still the land of freedom and opportunity. Almost anything and everything is possible here.

Over the past several years I've read news reports containing predictions of Asia toppling the U.S. at the top of the economic ladder. Those predictions state that we are in serious danger of becoming a second-tier nation. Some reports say it is already too late.

Maybe, but I don't think so. For more than two centuries we have created and re-created a nation of progress and innovation. We are free here to invent, to take chances, to fail and to succeed beyond anyone's wildest imagination. More often than not, we create and the rest of the world copies. OK, often they copy better than us but that's not too bad — because we're already on to the next big thing.

Yes, the world is changing and we certainly have some serious challenges ahead. But that's not so bad, either. Without challenges, we'd all become so fat and so happy that we wouldn't notice we'd tumbled head over tattooed rear end from the top.

It's not too late. Not by a long shot. Well, except for the tattoos, that is.


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