In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Tattoo….You?.”
During the winter of 1956 I decided I wanted a tattoo. Air Force regulation forbid tattoos, classifying them as destruction of government property. Should my commanding officer catch wind of it, and feel the need for a scape goat, he could initiate Article 15 proceedings – a paperwork reprimand, and probably lose a stripe, or worse yet, a full-blown court-martial. The choice was his. I was on the fence. Was it worth the chance?
I’d been drinking scotch most of the evening and night, and with a snoot-full the threat of legal action was no longer my prime concern. Before heading back to Keesler AFB, I decided to swing by an all-night tattoo parlor located above a rowdy club called The Green Door – so named after a dated song, What’s Behind the Green Door, or something along those lines.
After making my way up the stairway, I found an able seaman occupying the chair, and having the Battleship Missouri tattooed across his chest. After a few minutes checking examples on the wall I decided I wanted a large B-52 Bomber across my chest. The bigger the better.
There was a host of detail on the USS Missouri. It took time. I don’t remember how much, but long enough that some of the scotch was wearing off, and I began entertaining second thoughts.
The tattooer beckoned for me to take the sailor’s place. Before the sailor could pull on his shirt I had a quick good look at the distorted mass of colors across his chest. It certainly didn’t look like any battle ship I’d ever seen. The tattoo no longer seemed like a great idea.
Rising from my chair, I retraced my back down the stairs and caught the next city bus back to the base.