Thursday, August 3, 2017

I can totally explain why there's a jackalope tattooed on my flesh ...

It all has to do with Kansas City.

You may recall I went there last year, for Worldcon. And while I was there I had a brief panic attack in the airport. I was seated next to a Muslim woman at the time. I could tell she was a Muslim woman because she was wearing a ski parka with a hood, in August, and the only reason for that besides insanity would be to stay modest without looking scary.

I started thinking about this tattoo on my hip. I got it back in the '90s, kind of an abstract green swirly thing that (to me) represented the chaotic forces of nature. I figured it would make a good band logo if I ever managed to have a band that lasted long enough to get a logo. Alas, the tattoo lasted far longer than any band I've ever been in, and it was the reason for my Kansas City panic attack: "What if I go to the hospital, or even just to the hotel jacuzzi, or possibly merely pass in front of the airport scanner, revealing my tattoo to the red staters?  Will they automatically assume it means I'm in a satanic cult and lock me up in solitary for three or four years, or just beat me to death and claim it happened because I was jaywalking and littering at the same time?"

These thoughts didn't invade my head last August, before I knew some of the things I know now about the beliefs of red staters.  In fact, the state of Missouri was recently subjected to a travel warning issued by the NAACP. I will concede that this anxiety may be exacerbated by the media, but NPR is a relatively sober source. The fact I've been living in my San Francisco bubble for decades might also come into play, but at least here I'm pretty sure they're not going to extrajudicially execute me for having a weird tattoo, because practically everyone here has a weird tattoo, or possibly something even weirder.

After reading A Close and Common Orbit, my Hugo pick, where two characters have a philosophical exchange about tattoos as the place where mind and body intersect, I decided to just go get it done. The old-fashioned tattoo parlors of my youth where heavily-inked dudes would cheerfully draw a quick picture on your carcass have mostly been replaced by hipster sanctuaries where people book watercolor-style backpieces months in advance, but after a little scouting, I found this place called Let It Bleed (hey, that's one of my favorite albums) that does old-fashioned American-style tattooing. I asked the dudes in there what was best for covering a swirly thing, and they recommended a shaggy beast.

Given my recent art-buying experience at Baycon, and given that I've been cheerfully pwning people as Jackalope in various Blizzard games for the past decade, and given that there was a bar right up the block named Jackalope, complete with a Jackalope-shaped gobo light that dances on the sidewalk after dark, the choice was obvious. I ordered a shaggy jackalope with floppy ears, and I got one.

I don't think there's anything quite as all-American as a jackalope. Not even a bald eagle -- they have those in Canada.




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