I’m dog/house-sitting this weekend and took the pooches out for a morning stroll before I have to rush off to church, and before it gets too hot for the big, old dog.
On my way down the hill, another dog-walker passed me at a run. He looked like he was in his mid-40s, clean-cut hair, physique of one desperately fighting the middle-aged spread. Not too exceptional – except for the fact that he was running (a) shirtless, and (b) had “Mi familia, Mi vida” tattooed across his back between his shoulders in gothic lettering.
Game aficionados might be saying, “Ooh! Contrast game!” After all, it’s not common for middle-aged wealthy white guys to have thug-lite, Spanish tattoos on their backs. And obviously he must have been very confident to run shirtless, right?
This didn’t strike me as contrast game, though…it struck me as “very misguided try-hard game.” There will always be an exception to the rule, but for the most part, rich white guys, especially when they’re older, need to be very careful about adopting, er, cultural markers not their own. It’s too easy to cross the line from “pleasant, intriguing surprise” to “unfortunate SWPL poser” where the woman’s brain is going, “Okay, dude…REALLY?”
Now, I don’t know this guy and have never seen him before. Maybe he has a colorful, unpredictable past, and the tattoo is a vestige of that life. Maybe the words have real, deep meaning to him. But given his looks, his general demeanor, where he was running, and the type of dog he had, I’m thinking that he had a SWPL-y impulse to do something “rad” – so rad it would be permanent, because it was rad and meaningful – and the tattoo is the end result.
I think the reason tattoos on wealthy white guys are so off-putting is because of what they say. They don’t say that the man has a dangerous, exciting edge; they say that the man leads such an innoculated life that a tattoo is his most dangerous means of feeling blood. That’s not what women respond to. Also, tacky tattoos are pretty ubiquitous these days. (Of course, in Los Angeles, it is completely plausible that such a man could also be a druggie alcoholic with ten mistresses and escorts on speed dial. But I’m speaking more generally.)