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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: Tattoo Artist with a Conscience

Early morning cab rides usually bring few conversations. Either I’m asleep, the cabby’s asleep, or we’re both going Dagwood Bumstead after inhaling a hoagie —Z-Z-Z-Z! Given that background, Monday morning’s 4:30 cab ride from Arlington to the Dallas-Fort Worth became an instant classic due to the conversation.

Tattoos covered the body of my bearded driver, Sean. He wore his Dallas Cowboy’s hat turned backward and had a pleasant disposition. Moments into our conversation I learned that he owned a tattoo parlor and worked as the signature artist, as did his wife, who is also covered with tattoos.

Great business, right? I mean you see more tattoos today than ever. Alas, there once were 16 parlors in the greater Dallas area and now, according to Sean, approximately 1,000 exist. Thus, he’s driving a cab and looking for another profession, though he had some interesting thoughts about tattoos.

Florence_Tattoo_Convention_(5158061891)First, he allowed that he wished he’d never put ink on anything visible outside of his clothes, in particular his hands, neck, and face. Being past the age of 40 and starting a new job search has emphasized that point to him.

“Mood killer for an interview,” he said.

Next, he refuses to tattoo any youngsters who want work done to their hands, neck, or face.

“I won’t do it,” Sean said. “Hopefully they’ll remember me one day and be glad that I didn’t do the work they wanted.”

On the bright side, he added: “At least if my kids decide to rebel, they’ll be going against the grain by not getting tattoos.”

In an ideal world, Sean would like to change from tattoo artist to tattoo remover.

“Getting rid of one is not easy, but I know what I’m doing and not just anybody can do it the right way.” The voice told me he’d sleep better as the rain that washed away a sidewalk artist’s masterpieces.

Of course I couldn’t let the opportunity go to waste. I mean how many times are you driving along in a cab with a tattoo artist? Questions needed to be answered. I didn’t want to appear too eager, though, so I tip-toed in: “I’ll bet tramp stamps are big, huh?”

“They had their day.”

Turns out butterfly tattoos just above a woman’s hoo-hoo (you figure it out) remain the hottest thing going.

“Now I guess you want to know the strangest one?”

“Bingo,” I said.

Believe it or not, a customer named Brian Griffin wanted a tattoo of Brian Griffin — Family Guy’s erudite dog — from the top of his chest to just above his navel.

“I couldn’t believe he wanted one that big,” Sean said. “Brian’s holding a martini.”

No doubt Sean will see Brian Griffin again once he sobers up. Hopefully when that day comes the tattoo artist with a conscience will have a customer for his new business.

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