Now, I’ve seen it all

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 12, 2009

The world’s going to hell in a hand basket.

That’s what my granny would say. She’d look around and remark at all the things that were bringing about the downfall of mankind.

Women that wore their dresses so short that their knees shined. Men that smoked cigarettes in the shadow of the church steeple, young folks that stayed out until after ten o’clock at night and young’uns that backtalked their mamas and daddies.

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She regarded the television as the devil’s toolbox and it gave her scores of reasons to say, “Well, now I’ve seen it all.”

I found myself using those very words recently as I relaxed under an umbrella at a public swimming pool.

I found it amazing that so many women had tried to put so much in so little — and it didn’t seem to bother them a bit that it didn’t all fit.

Two-piece bathing suits were not designed for the “mature woman.”

Peter Paul Reuben’s’ portraits had come to life right before my eyes.

But what bugged my eyes nearly out of my head was that women – of all ages, sizes and shapes — had decorated their bodies with tattoos.

Now, most of these were not tattoos that would be seen in the normal workplace. They were on body parts that would be visible only during a doctor’s visit, surgery or by the undertaker.

But one young woman had a tattoo that covered her entire left arm. It was actually a mural of sorts. I could make out cascading flowers, a rippling stream and dancing fairies.

I wondered what kind of job she held down.

Tattoos were taboo when I was growing up.

Only very old men that had sailed the high seas had tattoos.

Their tattoos were always the same – a rose, an anchor or a heart that said “Mama.”

There was something scary about those men but there was also something mysterious about sailing the high seas and about tattoos.

So, when Cracker Jacks started putting tattoos a prizes in their boxes, we started putting tattoos on our arms and sailing the high seas.

You had to hold the tattoo paper on your arm with a wet rag for a few minutes and, when you took the rag off and peeled back the paper, the tattoo was supposed to be on your arm. But usually all that was left was a dark blue, runny spot. We perfected the method, though, by wetting the tattoo with vinegar instead of water – like we did when putting designs on Easter eggs. The tattoo was still a dark blue, runny spot but it stayed on longer.

Poolside that day, my thoughts drifted back to my childhood, but I was jarred back to reality by a plus-size lady who waddled by with a tattoo on each “cheek.” On one side was the sun and, on the other, a bright full moon. They rose and set with each step she took.

“Well, now I’ve seen it all.”

I sat there amused and wondering what would my granny say about all this.

On the way home, we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. Next to us sat a very distinguished lady who was obviously a grandmother waiting for her guest to arrive.

Soon, in came a young woman who looked like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. When her grandmother saw her, a smile lit up her face. She stood and hugged Rebecca with great affection and then stepped back to get a good look at her.

Rebecca, by some standards, would have been considered a little dowdy but she had a sweet, innocent face. But then, Miss Sunnybrook Farm slipped off her sweater.

Grandma nearly fell out of her chair.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm had tattoos.

The ones on her arms looked as though they had been drawn with a magic marker – simple blue outlines of flowers. But then, there was the masterpiece. A colorful, detailed paisley design for her cleavage.

How far the designed trailed, I do not know nor do I know whether grandma has recovered from the shock or ever will.

But I know what she was thinking – “Well, now I’ve seen it all.”

And my granny could add tattoos to her long list of things that will be the downfall of womankind, especially when gravity kicks in and the flowers start to wilt.