Via those sassy dames over at Jezebel (“sassy dames” is the preferred nomenclature, right?) comes this inspirational story of a courageous woman named Sarah Robbins who learns to see past the gruesome disfigurement terrorizing the precious corpus of her boyfriend. Or something. Let’s give this the thorough FJM’ing it deserves.
Is Love Skin Deep?
One guy’s scary body art puts his girlfriend to the test.
Hey, we’re all pretty experienced, erudite fans of body modification here, so the chances of one of us finding body art “scary”? Probably pretty low. That said, I can certainly sympathize with the average un-modified person (let’s do everybody a favor and bury the term “plainskin”) who may be fascinated, disturbed or even, yes, scared by someone like, say, Skullboy. If body modification were totally foreign to me for whatever reason and I ran into him randomly? Might be a little spooked.
So … clearly the “scary body art” referred to in the title here must be something like that, right?
[...] on our third date, he made me dinner at his place. By then, I was really liking what I saw: a handsome, short-haired, glasses-wearing guy who owned his own business and attended the ballet with his mom.
OK — probably no skull tattoos on his face. Split tongue, perhaps? That might be scary. Come on, split tongue!
I was admiring the way he decorated his apartment with both framed photos and living plants when suddenly his lips were on mine. Kissing him was even more warm and wonderful than I’d imagined.
Damn it. Genital beads? Gotta be it. Hulking, intimidating, mountainous, pulsing genital beads.
Then he pulled off his sweater, and something came between us.
Third arm! Fuck! That was totally my next guess, too.
Technically, it was someone: a tattoo on his upper left arm of a vibrant, crazy, and most unmistakably skinless man. Not a skeleton, mind you; a man with no skin—just organs, graphically rendered in sickly red, orange, and yellow swirls.
Oh. Just … a tattoo? Huh. That sounds like a pretty cool tattoo, actually. Attention, gentleman with the crazy girlfriend who writes for Marie Claire: please send a picture of your cool-sounding tattoo to BME.
I was shocked by the aggressiveness of it. He’d seemed so…normal. Gentle, even.
Little did she know that he kidnaps men, peels off their skin, uses a complex system of rays to shrink them down and then buries them deep within his arms! Ahhhh!
“What is that?” I blurted.
Totally the sort of thing you’d blurt out after … seeing … a tattoo … on a grown man?
I regretted it right away. With those three words, our makeout session came to an abrupt end, as he pulled back, giving me the chance to sneak another look at that thing on his arm. Yes, there was no getting around it: a man made entirely of muscles and guts, with piercing green eyes.
I’d say he was probably actually made mostly of ink. And some sweat. And maybe just a little bit of love.
“What, this?” he asked. “It’s a tattoo.”
Excellent answer. Quick, to the point.
Uh, yeah. It was actually the biggest, brightest, scariest piece of body art I’d ever seen close up. “But what…is it?” I inquired, a little more gently this time. “What does it mean?”
Maybe I’m just antisocial, but I hate answering this question more than just about anything. I’d rather every meathead on the subway ask me, “How much them shits in you ears hurt?” than have to explain away my ill-fated high school interest in sacred geometry.
Anyway, not to be too much of a jerk, but I have a hard time imagining a place in modern-day North America where a grown woman could live 25-30 years (I’m guessing) without ever seeing (what sounds like) a half-sleeve in the flesh. Were you just released from a basement in Austria?
He tried to explain: It had something to do with his interest in the medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch. And there was a mention of total respect for the tattoo artist. Oh, and, “These designs are exactly what brain synapses look like…”
I’m seriously liking this guy more and more. Is it too late to invite him to ModProm?
I wanted to like it—to dig the anatomical accuracy and artistry—because I liked him. But the truth is, it was a turnoff. Skeletons and synapses? No thanks. While my mind reeled, he kept talking.
Was your mind really reeling? It sounds like you two were about to get busy, and now all you can think about is the tattoo on his arm? If someone were trying to tattoo a skeleton onto his penis while you two were having sex, sure, maybe that would be a turnoff, but you’re just being ridiculous, lady.
“…And I can’t wait to finish it.”
Turned out, he hadn’t had time yet to complete his masterpiece.
I hope when you’re cooking him dinner some day, he walks over, tastes a piece of uncooked chicken and then, in between retches off the balcony, makes a bunch of bullshit catty comments about how lucky he is to have such a talented gourmet chef in the house.
When my friends heard the story, they reminded me that not only are tattoos totally common (more than a third of 20-somethings have at least one), but ink is, for many, a big turn-on. Bottom line, they said: A tattoo, no matter how weird, should not be a deal-breaker. The guy had too many other great qualities. Plus, it was still winter—there were plenty of months of sweater weather ahead of us.
They “reminded” you of this? Because you were just so mortified, so absolutely dumbstruck that these difficult and complex points just could not penetrate? You are so brave.
As the weeks wore on, I tried befriending the skinless man who slept between us. One night, after a few glasses of wine, I gave him a name: Telly Savalas, after the late, bald actor who starred in a detective series when I was a kid. Let’s face facts: It’s not like the tattoo was going anywhere. I was naming the elephant in the room.
You should have made an ultimatum. No, really. I would have loved to see how that played out. Also: you were seriously still hung up on this after a few weeks? Apparently Marie Claire needs to get you copyediting or something to occupy your time.
Our meet-the-parents moment came in the midst of a serious heat wave. Even sandals felt stifling; long sleeves were out of the question. Although Telly peeked out just a few inches past my boyfriend’s T-shirt sleeve, I was a nervous wreck, keeping tabs on which side of my mother my boyfriend walked on. Blessedly, my folks didn’t say a thing.
“Well, Jim, you’ve got a good job, handsome features, a winning disposition and you’ve never been anything but a perfect gentleman to Sarah. Unfortunately, it’s been brought to my attention that you have a small tattoo on your arm. In light of this, the guards will escort you to the gate, and a laser fixed to a satellite will disintegrate you if you come within 100 yards of my daughter. You asshole.”
As the work of art neared completion, strangers couldn’t help but take notice.
“Dude! What is that?”
“Can I see?”
“Where’d you get that?”
“Why’d you do it? Did it hurt?”
The questions came from all sides—in the subway, on the street, at restaurants and movie theaters. My boyfriend just blew them off. “Imagine complete strangers feeling entitled to touch you,” he told me. “Plus, I did it for me. I shouldn’t have to explain myself.”
Uh … yeah! I can totally see why you’re into this guy. Fuckin’ on point, man. Are you doing anything later? Let me buy you a beer. As friends! Just friends.
I was surprised, and a little irked, by his reaction: Why walk around with something so nutty if not to provoke a response?
Because not everybody is a narcissistic dingbat who puts the minutiae of their lives up on a national pedestal for everyone to scrutinize (and, ideally, praise). You know, like a columnist writing a dumbshit article about how difficult it is to love a wonderful man who has a single tattoo.
Seriously though, is this for real? You don’t understand why getting a tattoo in a visible place isn’t an invitation to strangers to come and touch it? This is surprising? Irksome, even? Did you get your journalism degree from the University of Phoenix?
I started thinking about our future. After all, a tattoo in your 20s is one thing, but what about in your 70s? If we had kids together, would they be terrified of that monster on Dad’s arm?
[...] Telly has actually taught me a few things. A little about anatomy, sure, but more about the ways I can be superficial. I’d long trusted that my boyfriend’s love for me runs far deeper than the way I look; now I can say unequivocally that I feel the same about him. It’s a truth that, every once in a while, bears repeating.
So, you acknowledge that you’re totally superficial, and rather than try to change that wholly unappealing part of you … you embrace it completely and, in fact, claim some sort of moral victory due to the fact that you’re occasionally able to set aside your own glaring flaws and not be disgusted by this entirely inconsequential part of your boyfriend (who sounds awesome, by the way) that actually means a lot to him?
Um … sweet.