Bennie ("Poppa") Andrews celebrated his 100th birthday recently. A party celebrating his life was held at the Blaine Boat Center and it was a delightful experience as friends and relatives paid homage to a man of impressive good fellowship. Once a Heronwood resident in Bellingham's Cordata Neighborhood, Poppa used to live down the street from us with son Ben and Ben's wife, Dee. Poppa now resides at Blaine's Stafholt Good Samaritan Center.
Blaine, located immediately south of the Canadian border, is about as Fourth Corner as one can get and a trip of considerable length for many of the Andrews clan who came from as far away as North Carolina and Texas. Musical entertainment for 50 attendees was provided by Poppa's grandchildren and great grandchildren and this tough audience found himself applauding enthusiastically.
The celebration was, in many ways, a throwback to those days when I was growing up, when this country had its priorities in reasonable order, and when politics were discussed rationally. As an irresistible observation, Poppa's party goers were totally free of tattoos although it's true I don't have Superman's X-ray eyesight.
Those of us of relatively advanced years (I'll be 87 next May, a suggestion that my longevity bottle is half-full) become increasingly aware of "the age thing" as we observe a changing America panting for the latest electronic fad. A recent and frightening study tells us that 16 percent of those who text in public merely fake such action, apparently fearful of social intercourse of a non-technical nature. Those who text and wear headphones at the same time are presumed to be particularly guarded while the added wearing of both Obama and Romney campaign buttons obviously add an exclamation point to such behavior. Hey, folks, get a life. I got one a long time ago.
Sometimes I wonder what I might choose as tattoo art were I to take the unlikely plunge and add a decorative note to my flesh? Would I recognize the past or express hope and glad tidings about the future? Would I pay homage to, say, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that did so many good things--schools and artistic achievement among them back in FDR's era--or, perhaps, suggest that this country's last war of any merit was World War II? Maybe, an effective tattoo would be the number of total U.S. military deaths achieved by the politicians who send our people off to such foolishness as our continuing misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan? That number since 1946 would be 152,965 and we're still counting. But wait. What about civilian casualties now believed to represent 90 percent of ALL casualties? At that point, we're talking well over a million total casualties. I think the left forearm where Hitler forced Jews to wear an identification number in some of his concentration camps would be an appropriate place.
Then there's that remarkable gaggle of Republicans who have run afoul of a party no longer willing to embrace what they once stood for. As we gird ourselves for the Republican National Convention now pushed back at least a day in what will soon be a very damp Tampa, let us remember that such stalwarts as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney (war criminals if ever there were two), Condoleezza Rice, and Sarah Palin are among the vast array of non-speakeres for the party. How quickly they forget. Perhaps an appropriate tattoo, representing how far to the right the party has moved, might be a stoutly written shout: "I Remember Barry Goldwater" or "Dick Cheney...the Voice of Reason." I'd feel compelled to somehow work the Halliburton logo into a Cheney remembrance.
The fertile field of politics certainly deserves additional inspection as a tattoo possibility. I'm particularly drawn to those U.S. House members of the GOP (Tea Party Division) who, sufficiently boozed up, frolicked naked a year ago in the Sea of Galilee where Jesus reportedly walked on water. Highly inclined to boast of a flawless America, the TPers performed in outstanding hypocritical fashion while conducting spirited blasphemy. Of course, we shouldn't expect too much from people with a 10 percent approval rating. In terms of honoring the event, a proper disfigurement might show a naked TPer walking on the waters of Galilee.
How could I possibly not bring into consideration Wall Street whose greed and criminal minds have produced such outrageous financial mendacity with prison no more threatening than the last firefly of summer. Maybe a line such as "I've Got Mine" accompanied by the logos of such greedmeisters as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and all the rest would do the trick. John Corzine, who lost track of a couple of billion dollars, also is hard to ignore. Perhaps a tattoo of Corzine's head, complete with a green beard composed of Woodrow Wilson $100,000 bills, would be appropriate.
Then there's the sporting world with so much potential one hardly knows where to begin. A good start would be Penn State, the biggest collegiate loser in a long time thanks to pedophile coach Jerry Sandusky, university leaders who looked the other way for 15 year and the dumbed down townfolk of State College who managed to acquire a major case of selective deafness. No question that a tat of coach Joe Paterno (his now-removed statue comes to mind) would be in better taste than a Sandusky remembrance.
Fealty also could be paid to gang membership although I've never been a gang member being much too anti-social. I neither tweet nor do I have hundreds of "friends" on a Facebook wall largely because I don't need any more than I have. Other than viewing "Westside Story," I don't know anything about gangs but the pussycat Jets and Sharks would appear to be choices of contrst to today's violence. I guess that's further proof of our worsening America. How about the orginal black and red "West Side Story" logo to suggest how tranquil were gangs in the good old days?
States like Florida and Texas offer great potential for tattoo spoofs. Not attempting in any way to invade Palin's new words turf, but we could call such body art tatspoofery." Both states have a lot of crazies both real and in training. Florida's unique approach to automobile driving education is, as actor Spencer Tracy used to say: "cherce." He meant "choice" and we accept Tracy's version of New Yorkese as he plays a shady sports promoter in "Pat and Mike."
As discussed in a recent column, Florida has a lot of drawbacks as a place to live although the old folks there have a chance in the upcoming election to right what went wrong in 2000 when the state was stolen. Driving among oldsters is always challenging but an out-of-touch legislature is currently displaying a reluctance to pass a single distracted driving law. While more than 70 percent of Florida voters support a ban on text messaging while driving, the legislature has been turning down safety bills since 2006 when the problem was timidly referred to as "hands free." Maybe some body art involving an alligator texting behind the wheel would do the trick. Another possibility would be calling attention to Florida's glory as the fraud capital of the U.S. The reputation was established long before Bernie Madoff ripped off friends and relatives in Palm Beach, his favorite hunting ground. Fraud complaints, the largest of any state, numbered 130,449 last year. Dead beat Florida also led the Nation in home foreclosures and identity theft and had impressive credit card debt records with four cities in the top 25. We'll save Texas for a later date; it's just too big to squeeze into this week's space.
I'm not sure how I'd handle the challenge of a tattoo since there's always a tomorrow when people, contronted by my adornment, might mutter something along the lines of" "What about Bob?" Highly satisfactory would be Mort Sahl's most repeated line:"The future lies ahead." It makes sense to honor one of our truly great humorists.
Then, again, maybe I'd skip the ink job and opt for a piercing. Being retired and essentially un-hireable, I wouldn't be fearful of not being employed as a waiter, a considerable problem for many tat-bedecked young people who must obey strict codes of attire that often include dirty jeans of four-inch overload and cover-up Band Aids. There's nothing quite as startling as an exasperated diner exclaiming: "Look, there's an earring in my soup."
One thing's for certain should I throw some business at the body art community. I'm not letting any of the body piercing types near my navel. Having recently noted the onrush of interest in golf's belly putter, I wouldn't want to impair what is becoming the anchor position of putting deliverance. After all, I might return to the game and join the Senior Tour.
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