If I had to pick a moment when I lost all respect for the white,
suburban, "North" American, it was around the just passing of the
millenium. It was then that I realized the absolute evil subjected to
their inner psyche by a bowlderized suburban upbringing.
A wicked fad was taking place when every middle-class white person
decided that they need more edge — and what's more edgy than tattoos?
I, personally, love tattoos that transforms people into living picture
books. They are sometimes very beautiful. I am still a sucker for goth
chicks with angel wings drawn over shoulder blades. (It's cliche. I
know. But I don't question your fetishes, why do you question mine?)
What I didn't like were those stupid tattoos that some people — well,
predominately white, young, middle-class people — had of Chinese
characters strung together to meaningless nonsense.
In the hot, suffocating times, on the streetcar, I would sometimes speak
to the women with the strappy lycra tops and capri pants (this was a few
years ago, remember?) Their absurd tattoos on some out of the way places
— mid-back, upper arm, the semi-flat patch of skin an inch above the
ankle — would only be visible in the summer outfits.
I needed to know. So I always lie and tell them I don't speak Chinese.
And asked them what that word meant. People are always so eager to
One women, I remember, had three words written on her inner calf. She
told me she wanted to put on her body the three things that are
meaningful to her: Peace, Friendship, and Angels. She was a nice lady.
The words were sort of right, but the choice of them and written
together: Peace (as in otium rather than pax), Friend (which is not
always a positive word in Chinese), and Angel (which has no one word
representation in Chinese; angel is roughly translated as heaven's
delegate) means either nothing or — at a stretch — some over-inflated
bureaucrat working for some kind of funeral home.
If you want to see more examples of ridiculous "Asian" tattoos, visit
It's pretty funny.