Monday, June 13, 2011

Don't Touch Me!

I'm not a tattooer, but I work in a shop and I have some visible tattoos--knuckles, hands, throat and legs—whatever.  I generally like talking about my tattoos, the people who did them, where I was at, my favorite styles, etc.  But what I don’t love is the lamer questions (repeatedly) and being touched without my consent.   
I write/shoot for a handful of publications in the industry and find myself traveling quite a bit, and missing home frequently (but not enough to stay put).
Aphephobia-fear of being touched
If I'm in the right frame of mind, I don't mind conversing with the general public. Most times I enjoy a chance to discuss just about anything with strangers I meet in airports, coffee shops, or hotels wherever I may be when a conversation happens.  I meet the neatest people through my visible insides-outsides  and hear hands-on how things are going in America and elsewhere. I love the art of conversation and I end up learning some cool things (and sometimes not cool) about people and the world in general... I usually don't have a problem with people talking as long as they don't try to touch me or my tattoos uninvited (here’s where it gets tense tense).
I do get cornered on occasion when I really would rather not be-- jeans or tampon shopping, date night, security checkpoints when I’m scheduled to fly, or at my kid’s school functions.  
Just Nasty, Nasty Hands
Why does this almost always accompany an unwanted touch?   It accompanies (usually) a squeal and a “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOUR TATS” and then the germy hand of a stranger looms into my zen-like personal space.  It becomes flight or fight.
Policeophobie, fear of cops
AND THE TSA?  Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s website reads that their job is “protect the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.”  This is not the experience I and my heavily tattooed, not wearing my hoodie, sunglasses, shoes, or watch has had.  Airport security people need to tone it down a bit if they are trying to ensure my freedom to “movement and commerce”.  I've missed several planes because the questions about my skin which has   absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I'm a security risk (they don’t profile, right?).   It absolutely affects my commerce if I miss a gig... But still, they're cop-ish enough that I feel like I'm defending the wholesome nature of my business travel by answering thoroughly the question "did that hurt?" as they point to their own throats and not karate-chopping them  if the grab at me too quick.
Shame Showers muffle the screams
Generally a good duck and move, or retraction of limb is sufficient. But sometimes the offending germy hand lands and I have to go home with a scour-pad for a hot-water shame-shower for several hours, curl up with my latest self-help affirmation book and cry myself to sleep.
Okay, not really, but it is gross.
Here’s the lame questions and answers—posted here in case anyone gets stuck.
Oooh, Does that hurt?
I’ve no great replies or answers to this one; I try to stick with one- liners like “they all hurt.” “What tattoo?”  and my personal favorite “Does your face hurt?” (Though variations of this switch from’ face’ to’ mom’ on occasion)… and try to be as loving and patient as I can at that moment. 
The open ended “ I would never..” which is really a passive question asking a person to defend your rational behind getting tattooed.
A “Good” usually suffices; the less syllables the better for passive types.
What does that feel like?
“To be honest, it’s always like a million beestings, even after it heals”--just in case they were thinking of getting tattooed, I get to do them a favor of helping them out with a healthy dose of fear.

Do you have any drugs/do you want to get high?
What Would Zaphod Do?
Sigh.  Usually a mom-like look with furrowed brow exposes the ridiculous nature of the question.  But Dreads and tattoos, I get it. If it needs to be enunciated I like to start off with “For real? Don’t you have anything better to do with yourself? “

Did you do that yourself?
Yes, I get bored easy, like right now.
My friend, Uncle Bill Touch
Inevitably the creepy Uncle Bad-Touch type will ask me if I have them EVERYWHERE? (nudge wink, etc)
Fuck off.

And mostly, people want to show me theirs, which usually involves disrobing and I have tried a variety of responses to this but the usual is a nod and a smile and a “I bet that was fun.” Statement, not question.  Questions lead to more lame conversation. Unless they’re interesting, like I said, I’m down to talk about whatever.
 Everyone loves their tattoos, even the ones from Uncle bad-Touch’s kitchen. Who am I to tell them otherwise?
What are some of your experiences? How do you handle the touches and the questions?

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