Skin Deep 214

Somebody just made a passing comment to me that included the late, great Rip Van Winkle – or maybe not so ‘late’ as I don’t believe he actually died in the story. For the benefit of those of you who are a) too young to know better, b) too wishy washy to have picked up on one of the most famous fictional characters of all time or, c) zoo animals held for too long in captivity, Rip is a British-American of Dutch descent who enjoys time by himself in the wilds of the mountains of New York, basically because he’s a slacker. When we meet up with Rip, we find that he has taken to wandering the mountains with his dog to escape from his nagging wife. At the risk of some backlash, we can all relate to that, right?

On this particular afternoon, he comes across a man who needs help carrying a barrel of liquor up the mountain (again, something we can all relate to), sneaks a drop or two and falls asleep. Are we sure this is still fiction? This sort of shit happens every day around here.

When he wakes up, he finds that his beard is now a foot long, his dog is nowhere to be seen and his gun is rotted and rusty. There’s a bit more to the story than this, but the upshot of the story is that Rip has fallen asleep for 20 years. Interestingly, when he gets back to his village and the confusion is ‘figured out’, all the other ‘hen-pecked husbands’ in the village simply wish they could share in his luck and also fall asleep through the ‘hardships of war’, though I rather suspect some other ‘factors’ might have been more important there.

Whichever way you slice it, this is a great story. One of the best ever. If you happen to be headed for some TV quiz show, it was written by Washington Irving in 1819, oddly enough while he was living in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama). Maybe the wives were rioting for a reason?

This got me to thinking – hypothetically of course – what if a tattooist woke up today, August 2012, after falling asleep for 20 years? What would they find? 20 years ago makes it 1992. Now to me and an unholy truckload of other people, that’s not so long ago. I can probably even remember what I was doing if I thought about it. I know I was getting tattooed back then and so were an awful lot of my friends, but none of us could ever have imagined that the choice of art that’s available now would ever be available to us now – on skin.

In that 20-year period, there’s been a lot of forward thinking folk that have changed the face of the art. I won’t name any of them – you know who they are, they’re names that people still drop around town today. Those people who changed stuff for the better – they didn’t always have better circumstances than any of us to make it that way. Some of them even worked in places were the art was still outlawed, but pushed through it because stuff just needed to be done.

Man, can you imagine what crazy shit will be like out there in 2032? Will you be hiding your 2012 masterpiece under a big jumper, or showing the world that piece you got that’s still looking fine all those years on?

Who knows what will happen next. That’s the sort of thinking that requires heavy sleeping on, but not for too long. Not unless, well…

Man, that mailbag is gonna be a heavy sonofabitch next month… but it was worth it for the funny story. Wasn’t it?


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