The Writer turned to me on the 4 Train one day (must have been a weekend) and ask “Is that man holding a sheep?” I looked around excitedly – it seemed entirely plausible that a fellow rider was cradling a lamb. Not seeing one, I gave the Writer a quizzical look and he gestured toward a man leaning against the door across the way. No wool in evidence, but his shorts revealed a leg tattooed with an image of the Virgin Mary and men kneeling at her feet. That’s where the Writer saw a sheep, but I couldn’t be sure.
One of the greatest things about summer in New York is all the body art on display in the subway. The rule is never to make eye contact, but I definitely look at my fellow passengers plenty. They can distract from the book I’ve brought along, especially when I’m trying to puzzle out ornate text. One of my favorites, recently, was an ohm on a wrist. Last summer I saw lots of blue swallows on women’s chests and stars on men’s elbows, but now that I’ve moved and switched lines from the C/E to the N/R, I see more religious imagery and family names and fewer “trendy” tatts.
As for me, no ink, partially because I could never commit to an image like that, I’m more drawn to words. Check out Shelley Jackson’s Skin Project for words as tattoos (I also enjoyed her novel Half Life, about nuclear waste creating a huge increase in conjoined twins and a shadowy separation industry).