Symbols, Logos, and Tattoos
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Nothing says “Generation Y” like a tattoo that needs an explanation.

One young relative has a tattoo that is a design meaningful only to people with a thorough knowledge of punk/anti-establishment/angst-ridden nineties music. At least, I think it was the nineties. When was Crass big? Anyway, the symbol was meaningless to me until I asked about it.

That would be ok, except that today I learned that another young relative now has a tattoo that I don’t understand. It includes the words “No Preguntes.” I don’t speak Spanish, so my first thought was that it meant “Not pregnant,” but I was wrong. I looked it up. It means “Don’t Ask.” Well, I’m asking. Why? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life explaining your tattoo?

Both of these tattoos are big, maybe 5” or 6” but coverable in the first instance by a short-sleeved shirt and in the second by a mini skirt, which makes these people still employable.  So, that isn’t an issue. The problem I have is that the designs are deliberately cryptic.

I have nothing against tattoos, as such. I’ve even considered getting one myself. I thought it would be a bit saucy to have a tat somewhere that could only been seen when I’m undressed. It would be a harking back to my misspent youth and/or a little personal joke. But it would be something attractive, like a flower or a butterfly. I wouldn’t have to decode it for anyone, and it would lift my spirits.

So, why am I grumbling? Well, I guess it’s because I don’t like being kept out of the loop. It’s as though these tattoos are in a code known only to a special group, like a secret handshake. I’m reminded of organizations like the Illuminati, Rosicrucians, Druids, and Freemasons who organized mostly, it seems, to pull the strings of power. They also helped each other’s children get good jobs. Those that still exist do a lot of charity work and give out candy in town parades. Regardless, they had—or have—secrets known only to the select few.

I’ve never been asked to join one of these societies, so I don’t really know what they do. I only know what I’ve read here and there, and what I see in movies that involve Tom Hanks deciphering ancient artifacts. I have sometimes wondered why I haven’t been invited, but I think the fact that I am female and left-wing probably has something to do with it. However, it’s the nudge-nudge-wink-wink “We know something you don’t know” nature of secret societies that irritates me. Perhaps it is meant to. It’s a kind of one-upmanship, and it deliberately excludes people.

Now that I think about it, though, there are lots of things I don’t fully understand—like American football–but they aren’t deliberately keeping me ignorant. I just haven’t taken the time to learn. If there is a secret society that purposefully keeps football impenetrable, it’s not very exclusive. It actually includes a few people in my family who repeatedly try to explain it to me.

So, these tattoos that I don’t understand are probably more like American football and less like the Illuminati. Just something to smile at and shake my head.


  1. I am entirely too fickle to have something permanently etched on my skin, despite my large collection of .jpeg files depicting tattoos that I admire. Instead, I content myself with buying jewelry that says the things I think about saying in ink. That way, I can answer questions when I want to and pass for whatever normal means when I don’t. 🙂

  2. LBMM, I bet you have a wonderful collection of jewellery, too. The permanency of tattoing is something I wonder about. I’ve changed so much over the years that I can’t imagine being as proud of a tattoo at 65 that I had made when I was 25. But, many cultures embrace body art so I will just accept the practice as a harmless oddity.

  3. I think of tattoos like vintage luggage stamps. The question then isn’t so much ‘what does that mean?’ so much as ‘where is that from?’ And having a luggage stamp showing you’ve been to Winnipeg isn’t something, theoretically, you’d be embarrassed about.

  4. Haha that’s my tattoo. I also have one under my breasts that says “Ni regret du passe, Ni peur de l’avenir” I love my secret code. Nobody needs to know 🙂

  5. I also have a very large one on the side of my hip up my ribs that is a drawing by an Japanese American artist 🙂 I’m Gen X though. Too old to be Y.

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