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Kenneth Cleaver 

Consumer Correspondent

June 1, 2005

The Mighty Stained Skin

1255 North High Street

Columbus, OH 43201

Dear The Mighty Stained Skin:

I've often wondered if tattoo artists have to stifle the desire to ink the subtext of their work.

For example, you're probably familiar with the butterflies, roses and vaguely ethnic boilerplates that have found their way onto the lower spines of 20-something women in recent years. Isn't their real message something along the lines of: I'll take attention however I can get it?

As for the fighting Irish leprechauns, Yosemite Sams and defecating Calvins, it seems the thrust is more ambiguous. My take is this: While my childhood was indeed humiliating, I'm now a BADASS. Care to discuss my new motorcycle purchase or the novels of Chuck Palahniuk?

As for the folks who ink up their foreheads, necks and other surfaces not easily hidden, the point seems obvious: If I cover myself with enough crap, no one will ever know how boring I am.

Do you think I'm off-base? Is it hard to keep these meta-messages bottled up? Or is it easy because, hey, that's what you're paid to do?

I'd really like to know.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Cleaver

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