Tag Archives: Opinion

Three Forms of Self-Expression I’m Not Really Down With

9 Dec

I’m pro-self-expression. I love that I live in a society where I can say babies look like little old people and not experience any repercussions (minus the hateful looks from my wife). However, there are forms of self-expression that I find just don’t really do it for me. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t be able to express yourself, I just think it should stop being done in the following ways.

1. Tattoos

When I was 4 years old I had a favorite toy. It was a plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex that I named Bagel. I absolutely loved Bagel. Me and him were like partners in crime running ’round the house creating ruckus.

Tyrannosaurus Rex and me

Me and Bagel posing for the camera.

Fast forward 16 years and I’m on my first solo backpacking experience. I’m talking with a French Canadian outside a beach hostel about my incredible idea for a tattoo I’d like to get. I’ve drawn out a killer sunset over the ocean done in black in this crazy tribal pattern that I’d like centered on my back, and though I don’t understand a thing he says, I’m pretty sure my new French Canadian friend agrees that it sounds awesome.

Guess what you won’t find on my back today? A big @$*#ing tattoo of an ocean sunset.

Indiana Jones and Spiders

Also this.

The lesson here has everything to do with Bagel. Do you know where Bagel the plastic T-Rex is today? Do you have any idea where Bagel, the toy that I loved like a brother and would kill for if it were possible as a four-year old, could possibly be? No. And you know what? I have no clue either.

Jurassic Park T Rex

I'd like to think he's become a big Hollywood celebrity.

The fact is, we change. Our opinions change, our notions of “what’s cool” change, and our priorities and values change. Even really unyielding convictions change. I had immensely strong feelings for Bagel, and yet, here I am today writing about how he’s probably been reprocessed into tires.

Flashback to the beach house and I’m about to pull the trigger on my terrible decision before I asked myself, “Hey Max, do you think this will look as awesome in 10 years as it’ll look tomorrow?” Not surprisingly, the answer was a resounding no.

Old Wine Bottles

Your ten year old tattoo is not considered a vintage.

And guess what? I was right. I’m immensely proud of 20-year-old Max for deciding not to go through with it. He understood that even though surfing and sunsets were now the two most important things to him, like Bagel, he might lose touch with those priorities.

I have a friend that has three of his ex-girlfriend/wives’ names on his arm. THREEThe first two are crossed out. I can’t italicize that enough. He somehow managed not to make one poor tattoo decision, but three. He thought getting girl #1’s name tattooed on his arm was romantic, so he inked his arm up, and then the romance died. Cue second girl. She bothered him about loving the first girl enough to get a tattoo, so he had to get a second. Then the third girl followed suit, and he ended up with three names. It’s like he applied an old wives’ tale to important relationship decisions. Lightning never strikes the same place twice right?

Two lightning bolts


So it’s not that I don’t agree with tattoos. It’s that I don’t agree with their longevity. Some look awesome (and many look terrible), but there’s rarely something so unique and so powerful that I must announce it to the world permanently underneath my shirt.

There are of course exceptions. If a tattoo is meant to memorialize something timeless then by all means, this doesn’t apply. For the others, I don’t buy that you got the barbed wire because it symbolized the cage of your existence.

And just in case you think this isn’t a real story, here’s a drawing I keep to remind myself that no matter where I am in life, in 10 years, I will always look back and think I was an idiot.

Drawing of sunset tattoo

Please invent a time machine so I can go back and punch myself in the face.

2. Bumper Stickers

I’m not sure what it is about the bumper on a car that causes people to assume that it’s an appropriate place to have serious political discourse or borderline offensive remarks.

choking bumper sticker

Oh I get it! You're a serial killer!

For some reason, people feel it’s appropriate to say things on their bumpers that one would never repeat in a conversation with a stranger. Could you imagine if the next time you introduced two friends the conversation went like this?

You: Hi Rick, I’d like you to meet Linda, we’re old friends from Vegas.

Rick: Hi Linda, my child is an honor student at Green Valley High School!

Linda: Hi Rick, my Boston Terrier is smarter than your honor student!

Didn’t that feel awkward?

The thing to remember is, when you have a bumper sticker on the back of your car, it’s quite simply the first thing you’re saying to every stranger you see on the road.

way too many bumper stickers

This says, "I'm #@*$ing crazy."

And that’s not even mentioning the people you do know. Would you go around to every co-worker at the office and let them know that their support of their favorite political candidate is akin to treason? That’s what it sounds like when you silly glue your “Screw Liberals”/”Screw Conservatives” sticky note to the back of your windshield.

3. Dance

I’m totally cool with dance as a concept, especially by people who enjoy it enough to be good at it. But we start getting into some pretty funky areas when people use dance as a form of self-expression in situations that are probably not dance-friendly.

Dance fighting

During a violent brawl, for example.

I went to a music festival in Seattle that was pretty fantastic. I enjoyed the “sit down” style of melody as did most the audience. There were about 2 or 3 people in the crowd who couldn’t handle their excitement and just had to move their body semi-rhythmically to the beat. Every one of those people looked like they were trying to have sex with a ghost.

casper the friendly ghost

Which in this case, seems totally inappropriate.

I tried to focus on the music, but the weird hip thrusts were quickly becoming prominent in my field of vision and I ended up kind of watching that for the rest of the set. And what does that say about me?

squirrels playing cards

Some pretty strange stuff I would say.

I truly do admire people for dancing “like nobody’s watching,” but the fact is that most of the time, there are dozens of people watching. And I gotta say, you’re making us pretty uncomfortable.

guy naked and darth vader making woman uncomfortable

Yep, just like that.

So just remember, that chinese symbol for “pride” that you’re getting right above your crack is probably going to look like a mistake when your first-born hits 12. And remember that ironic bumper sticker about eating babies you put on your old Corolla? Yeah, your boss walks by that everyday. He’s trying to figure out how to fire you.

And the dancing thing? I’d appreciate it if you’d stop making me feel like such a damned square.

Feel free to disagree in the comments below. Yelling can be done in CAPS.