January 12, 2009

As of this morning, I am officially dead in my mid-to-late thirties.

I am wondering whether to use this occasion as the impetus to get a tattoo, as I have been threatening to do for, depressingly, years.

For a while my plan was to get the Doubtful Guest tattooed on part of my body easily visible to men performing a certain action upon me. (I generally prefer to perform the action in question upon others rather than to have it performed upon me; this description will more than suffice, however, for the theoretical purpose of elucidation.)


However, now that I am dead in my mid-to-late thirties I figure I really don’t have time to be coy, so I’m considering something more extensive, along the lines of the following images, in a location that is, if sadly less louche, at least more generally visible.




I remember that when I was nineteen, after giving the matter a great deal of thought, I decided that it would be within the bounds of propriety for a man to wear earrings until he was thirty but not afterward.

I’m glad I don’t know me when I was nineteen, because I would hate me. By which I mean I would feel incredibly insecure and self-loathing in my presence.

Then again, I’m having trouble thinking of anybody in whose presence I’m not incredibly insecure and self-loathing, so maybe I should just go and get the damn tattoo.

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21 Responses to As of this morning, I am officially dead in my mid

  1. Jeff says:

    I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no tattoos, but… Happy Birthday!

  2. Don says:

    Get the damn tattoo. And then get one to mark every decade of your very short but wonderful life.

  3. sdf says:

    condolences! where’s the party?

  4. Jill Smith says:

    Oooh. An Edward Gorey tattoo. Inspired.

    If you’re feeling really dead, why not a scene from The Gashlycrumb Tinies? (Neville is my personal favorite).

  5. Sharon says:

    Happy birthday!

    I wanted to email you yesterday, but I had family stuff. Actually, the family stuff was my grandfather turning 90 yesterday. Anyway, I hope you also managed to get some non-maudlin stuff in there.

  6. Aidan says:

    1. You are not old. I should know. I AM old. I beat you by a decade, so shut up already.

    2. I rather wish I had known you when you were 19. I imagine life would have been different with all those extra years of laughter.

    3. Jews don’t get tattoos. It is an insult to the memory of the Six Million.

    4. How is everything at home? Is E.S. holding up?

    Love to you, Little Boy.

  7. BEZ says:

    Don’t do it. Think of the self-loathing you’ll experience in the nursing home when that thing is no longer even identifiable.

    I did it and am just glad it’s on my back where I don’t have to look at it.

    Happy birthday.

  8. southwer says:

    I really, REALLY love the word louche. it is one of my favorite words ever.

  9. Kenny says:

    I’ve long considered getting a tattoo of the Hebrew word “Chai” (life) somewhere; probably a shoulder blade. As a Jew, does that make the tattoo ironic or just defiant?

    Oh, and Happy Birthday, you beautiful man!

  10. sam says:

    Tattoos are awesome. Get one, then let the addiction take over and get more. I can almost hear the buzz of the needle and feel my skin thirsty for ink.

    Oh, and happy birthday, if I am perhaps a bit late.

  11. initials says:

    Not to put to fine a point on it, Herr Doktor, but your age is nothing to be depressed about. Hell, I’d do you in half a second, were I given the chance… But I’d insist on dinner first, as it’s fairly certain you’d be a great conversationalist.

  12. tim says:

    Happy Birthday, my friend. I owe you a piece of cake. Just tell me when.

  13. TED says:

    Go ahead and get a tattoo. But have it put somewhere very few people will see it, and make it text only: “N is for Neville, who died of ennui.”

  14. matt says:

    Happy Birthday! And amusing tattoo suggestions, although the Guest will be rather easier to place elegantly than the full panels.

    Let us draw a discreet veil over the annual self-flagellation on the matter of ageing. How many more times must I remind you that it beats the alternative?

  15. Miss Manners says:

    I can’t stand it any more – I have to say something. You have an extraneous period in the phrase “Type ‘conceited’ in the box. (required):”

    Please emend to “Type ‘conceited’ in the box (required):”

    Oh, and a very happy birthday – the Guest would look lovely.

  16. Anne says:

    Miss Manners, isn’t it amend rather than emend?

  17. Miss Manners says:

    Actually probably either, now that I think about it; depends what you think of the original text. “Emend” is to improve a text, possibly by fixing an error but other changes also qualify; “amend” is to change a text, presumably by fixing errors.

    For all the good it does us. Doctor F. has not altered the offending punctuation, always presuming he wishes to do so. And can. Perhaps he’s busy dying I mean turning 35, I always make that mistake, or more probably offering support to ES and his family.

  18. Jeff: Thank you!

    Don: I’m not sure my body has room for that many tattoos.

    sdf: They told me, but I’ve forgotten.

    Jill: Of course Neville was the next illustration I was going to post here.

    Sharon: Happy birthday to your grandfather! I’m glad to share a birthday with somebody so distinguished:

    Aidan: At nineteen I was even more arrogant and pretentious than I am now. But things are fine, thank you.

    BEZ: I was kind of hoping that by the time I’m in the nursing home I won’t have my wits about me enough to loathe myself.

    southwer: I’m so glad! May I commend to you velleity and ucalegon?

    Kenny: Is it possible for Jews to do anything that isn’t ironic and defiant?

    sam: Thank you, and I think perhaps the thing to do is to get a huge Flannery-O’Connor-in-“Parkers Back” tattoos of a Byzantine haunted Jesus on my back.

    initials: My schedule in the upcoming weeks is very open. But you have to throw an element of uncertainty into it, because I’m a supremely boring conversationalist when I’m not nervous.

    tim: Ooh, what flavor?

    TED: See my response to Jill above.

    matt: But I’m blogging so rarely and lamely these days that to pass up a ready-made opportunity would be tempting fate.

    Miss Manners: If I were able to change the text in question, I would, though I suspect I might find a slightly different solution. Alas, if wishes were horses . . .

    Anne: It pains me to disagree with you but I think that “emend” is more what Miss Manners means, though I must also painedly disagree with Miss Manners’s distinction between the two. To “amend” a text is to change its content with a view to improving it; to “emend” a text is to correct linguistic errors in it.

  19. Esther says:

    You could do the Guest nice and little if you must get a tattoo, but don’t those others look like they need an awful lot of needles and ink?

    How about just come home with a temporary tattoo for the shock value? No pain!

  20. FortWorthGuy says:

    Regardless of what you get, or where you get it, photos will be required as proof. Simply bragging about it will not work.

  21. I was being interviewed this week by a reporter for a Southern living type magazine the other day and after about 45 minutes of fun and light fare, she asked me my age. I smiled and said that I was born in the first half of the last century. She giggled a little and asked just how old is that? I replied, it’s pretty old, but I’m not quite as old as dirt. That’s my brother Eldon. He’s 65.

    I just put an earring on. A simple diamond post. I would rather dangling rhinestones, but I’m in a hurry.

    Hugs, dearest. A belated happy birthday.


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