Ty is 63 and in the midst of a full-blown midlife crisis. (Yes, midlife.
He plans to live to be 126.) He told his wife, Carol, that he was thinking of getting a tattoo.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “I was thinking of a crow.”
Ty has been reading a lot of mysteries that take place in the West and contain Native American mysticism, with birds taking on a special meaning.
He also likes the Brandon Lee revenge film classic “The Crow,” and he was thinking of a large, menacing bird tattooed across his ever-widening, hairy shoulder.
The fact that Ty is 5 feet 10 inches and 247 pounds as opposed to Lee’s trim, athletic body did not seem to be relevant.
Carol reads British mysteries, and birds and tattoos do not play much of a part in most of them.
“Why a tattoo? Why a crow? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” he said.
“I feel like I would be a crow if I were a bird. It’s a symbol. It can mean a lot of different things. I want to be different, not like everybody else.”
“Crows are nasty, noisy birds,” Carol said. “Why don’t you get a chicken? I like chickens.”
Ty was dumbstruck. A chicken? What kind of a tattoo is that?
The whole point of getting a tattoo is to show people how tough you are, what a renegade you are, how you march to your own drummer, how you do things your way. Is that what Carol thought he would be if he were a bird? A chicken?
Besides, people would laugh at him if he got a chicken tattoo. Ty wanted the same kind of tattoo the other renegades had. Carol probably meant chickens were cute, but Ty didn’t see it that way.
“What about a turkey?” Carol asked. She was thinking of a wild turkey, tail displayed. Ty pictured a Thanksgiving turkey, golden brown and sitting on a platter. It was not a macho image at all. It was obvious that Carol did not keep up with current tattoo trends.
It wouldn’t even be enough to get one little tattoo of a crow. If he really wanted to be a renegade, he’d need a lot more than a crow. He’d need the tree where the crow lived and then maybe a scene from the movie, and it would all have to be held together with vines and mystical symbols that would climb his arm from his wrist to his shoulder. Then he’d have to start on the other side.
“I’ve heard it hurts to get a tattoo,” Carol rattled on. “You know, they use a little needle gun to do that. Then it scars over until it heals. You wouldn’t even get a flu shot last year because of the needle.”
He had forgotten about that. Maybe they could give him some Novocain. No, they do that with a needle. Surely there’s something they could rub on his arm so he wouldn’t feel it.
Ty started wondering how small a crow he could stand. But if it were too small, no one would see it.
“A parrot,” said Carol. “Now that would be something.”
A parrot. Well, there is the pirate connection. And the Jimmy Buffett connection. They’re both renegades. But then there’s the fact that a parrot just repeats things that other people say.
Ty was starting to rethink the whole tattoo thing. A crow. That really wouldn’t say anything except that he got a tattoo. He wanted to send a message that he might be 63 and have gray hair, but he didn’t act the way people expect an old person to act. He may be 63, but he didn’t feel it. A sports car would say that.
No, with his back, Ty didn’t think he could get in and out of a sports car. He’d look like an 8 1/2-month pregnant woman trying to get out of a lounge chair.
“What about a penguin?” Carol said. “I really like penguins.”
Ty thought about it. “So do I,” he said.
Jim Mullen is a syndicated columnist who appears in the Sunday Express.