What Would Hank Williams Have Done?

Recently, in a local restaurant, we were seated near a wall-mounted TV tuned to some country music video channel. Most of those performing their latest song were young and totally unknown to me. Many of the male performers were sporting multiple tattoos and excessive metal dangling from their ear lobes. There are times when I entertain the thought that my wife and I are the last remaining people in America who haven’t mutilated their bodies other than by non-elective surgeries.

After finishing our meals and chatting with the in-laws we took a long drive through the autumn hills of Southern Ohio stopping at a McDonald’s for a hot-fudge sundae. Sitting at a nearby table were a young couple whose mouths, noses, and ears contained so many chrome studs and rings their faces could have been mistaken for studded snow tires. Whatever the combined weight of their metal studs and rings, it would have been exceeded by the weight of the

Yes Mr. Smith, you're just what this firm needs to ensure its future growth.

tattoo ink that permanently locked within and staining their skin. If these two ever got stuck in a lip lock it might require the Jaws of Life device used by life squads to get them apart.

I’ve written about these things before but deny my repugnance of  tats and piercings is an aging thing. I’ve always disliked such things and failed to accept people’s explanations or justifications for it. Add it to the list of life’s unanswered mysteries. What may be an age thing is my continued belief that being inked and studded up spells a jobless life. While I may not be able to get past a perspective employee’s skin art or ringed eyelid, employers of the near future may base employment choices on which applicant has the coolest or most artistic ink.

It’s long been recognized that one cannot be a successful rock star without arms and neck loaded with ink, ears full of hog rings and a 3″ dowel rod stuck in each ear lobe or through the nostrils. The trend seems to be crossing over into the more traditional genre of country music. Waylon Jennings had a song titled, “Are you sure Hank did it this away.” I can’t remember what may have adorned Waylon’s ear lobes or forearms but there’s a chance Hank wouldn’t have done it Waylon’s way. Hank’s way was clean-shaven, quaffed hair, tailored suit coats with embroidered musical notes, a tie, a simple guitar, and raw talent that didn’t need ink, studs or highly choreographed videos to gain an audience or a lasting legacy. But, maybe if Hank was a product of this era those notes and clefts would be tattooed on his arms and he’d have the tablature of Your Cheating Heart inked around his tall skinny neck.

A woman I know recently mentioned that tampon machines in today’s lady’s restrooms dispense, along with sanitary napkins, perfumes, lotions, breath mints, and lick and stick tattoos. I’m not sure how temporary tattoos warrant a slot in these machines. I once heard a story about a woman who had a tattoo inked very close to her genitalia that read, “Consider yourself lucky.” Kind of a welcoming mat for the lucky fellow she took back to her lair for the evening. Maybe that’s the kind of tattoo being sold in machines.

Regardless, at least lick and stick temporary permit the experience without permanently mutilating the body. After I began this piece I read a news item about a former skinhead who had changed his mind about racism and white supremacy and went through hell having all the hateful ink removed. What you are and what you believe today isn’t necessarily going to be what you’re about tomorrow. Temporary can prove a good thing.

Couple of years ago I was talking to some guy about his ear stud and my son later said, “You’re going to get pierced, arent’ you.” I told him no but while on a fishing trip I stopped in a novelty shop and purchased a couple of fake diamond studs with magnetic backs. Just before I arrived home I stopped and installed a diamond stud on one of my ear lobes. Took almost an hour before anyone noticed. There were several wide eyes though, when they did see it.

I’ve always seen the current popularity of tattoos and piercings as today’s version of the duck tail hair cut of the 50s or bee hive hair doos on women in the 60s. Unfortunately, though, if this is but a fad you just can’t wash it off or trim it off like a weird hairstyle. I can’t but wonder if someday those two young people in McDonald’s will come to see that what seems so cool today will not outlive them.

How bout it, Hank? Send us a sign!

3 thoughts on “What Would Hank Williams Have Done?”

  1. I know they think this is the thing to do but on down the road I have a feeling they will regret it. I have 2 granddaughters that have tattoos. One has hers in a hidden spot the other has hers on her wrist. For her job she has to wear bandaids to cover them. What would you think if she happened to be your server and you saw the bandaids? Wouldn’t you wonder what they were covering. i don’t think they improve ones beauty whatsoever. One or two earrings on the girls I can see. After all we are not tribal anymore.

  2. Larry, I’m happy to report that a segment exists within country music that do not sport the tattoos and piercings. Artists like Vince Gill, Josh Turner, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, George Strait, among others. I believe the younger artists lean toward the tats and piercings because they think it’s cool and communicates a lifestyle that speaks more to the youth.
    I suppose one could argue that even the older generation went through a similar phase. Many of the veterans returning from WWII, the Korean, and Vietnam wars sported tattoos and most picked up the habit of smoking. Kinda makes you shiver when you think about the future rock/country artists. What will they look like in 20, 30 or 100 years from now? Glad I won’t be around to witness that!

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