What About When You’re Eighty?

What About When You’re Eighty?

“Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are cheese.”

- Billie Burke

The Lizardman Q&A columns have been a lot of fun but also a little repetitious of late. So, I have been trying to think of things and ways to make them a bit more fun and new again. Quite frankly, I was at a loss and not sure I was going to do one at all this month. Fortunately, inspiration struck in the form of a comment in one of my journal entry forums by IAM:saram.

The entry (IAM members click here to read it) had been about doing things (body modification or not) on the basis of true personal individual motivation rather than as a result of wanting to fit in or not fit in as the case may be. Sara posted to the effect that she thought these arguments were silly, as I did, and then wrote:

I find other repetitive questions to be far more interesting, like, “How will you feel about [a mod] when you’re eighty?” It’s a silly question, but at least it’s more thought-provoking.

As a result, I then and there promised an article on that very question and realized something that would, at least to me, be a fun potential series of columns. As already stated, the following will be a discussion of that often related query, “what about when you are eighty?” In future months I will be posting other repetitive questions on my IAM page and letting people vote on the next one that I should address. And for fans of the old freestyle Q&A, I am sure it will make a return sometime soon as well.

So, what about when I am, or you are, or anyone else is eighty?

Will women still swoon over an aging Lizardman in 50 years?

I do get asked this question a lot. Most often the motivating factor behind it seems to be a concern or allegation that I have not really considered the consequences and rushed into things. Of course, this is very far from the truth. I spent nearly four years developing, designing, and considering what I was getting into before ever getting tattooed. Even once I had started I broke my overall project up into sections that would allow me reasonable ‘exit points’ if I changed my mind for some unforeseen reason. This means that I spent more time considering this than some people spend together before getting married or having kids. Ask yourself seriously if you think it is more foolhardy to publicly tattoo yourself or to bring a life into the world without forethought?

Explaining all of this and adding that last bit for perspective is often more than enough to satisfy the inquisitor, but if I look at it carefully it does not really answer the question asked — it simply dissolves it by addressing the concerns that motivated the question. Philosophically, being of a Wittgensteinian bent, I love this. But, let’s try actually answering the question itself.

When I am eighty, or however old I live to be since eighty is just an arbitrary age which most people would throw out as a point of getting reflective, being potentially on the way out (which is rather pessimistic since I fully plan on living well past a century), what will it be like to have been tattooed, pierced, and otherwise altered? Obviously, there will be some physical degeneration — that is part of aging despite the best efforts of technology, medicine, and lifestyle. I actually look forward to aging, to living through the process. My modifications may have some unforeseen implications but that’s half the fun (some wrinkling could potentially make scales look that much cooler) and not a deterrent unless they are seriously debilitating. In a somewhat analogous way, I would point to people getting their ears pierced and wearing the very common French hook style jewelry — would putting up pictures of old women’s ears who have been slowly ‘cheese cut’ over decades of wearing these earrings put an end to mall piercing stands? Hardly. The doctor who split my tongue mentioned doing a brisk business of re-working the ears of people who had worn so called ‘normal’ earrings throughout their lives — a nice thing to point out since many of the inquisitors have just such piercings.

The more I think about it, I just don’t believe that people asking the question are at all concerned with a direct answer such as the above. They are more thinking about what type of life you will be leading as you age and what you will be doing to support yourself or such when you reach that ripe age. Even more so, I am all but convinced that the vast majority of people who pose this question are simply looking to play out a superiority trip and accuse people with body modifications of throwing away their lives in some way — especially when it is asked with the implication of future regret.

So what about regrets and quality of life for the modified? Well, it seems like quality of life need not be a problem at all if people would simply be polite and open minded enough to accept that a modified appearance is not necessarily an indicator of much more than personal aesthetic preference. The problem is not my modifications, but your ignorance and prejudice. Given a moment of rational clarity I would hope most people would prefer the eradication of close minded ignorance (on all subjects) to that of something as potentially positive and affirming as body modification. Most regrets will likely fall from the same tree.

Now given that I am not entirely naïve to the world, despite my best efforts to be, and I hope you aren’t either I will discuss regret a bit more pragmatically — regardless of body modification. Wondering ‘what if’ seems to be a wholly natural and likely universal activity for people and is not the same as regret. Often when wondering ‘what if’ you may imagine a scenario much grander than your current reality but this should not necessarily lead to regret. I can honestly say that I have absolutely no regrets at this point in my life because even in those situations where I can ‘what if’ myself into much nicer scenarios for myself and others I still made the best decision I could given my knowledge and options at the time. Just because I look back now at what I know to be bad decisions, I do not regret them since being the exact same situation at that same time again I would do the same thing. Hindsight is 20/20 but unless you intentionally acted in a way you knew to be wrong I do not see cause for regret.

I cannot guarantee that you or I will be happy when we are older but if we act in the best manner we have known and available to us I have very high hopes.

Erik Sprague

because the world NEEDS freaks…

Former doctoral candidate and philosophy degree holder Erik Sprague, the Lizardman (iam), is known around the world for his amazing transformation from man to lizard as well as his modern sideshow performance art. Need I say more?

Copyright © 2004 BMEZINE.COM. Requests to republish must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published August 26th, 2004 by BMEZINE.COM in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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