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PEOPLE WATCH
Symbolic Interrogatives

by Casey White
October 17, 2002

Symbolic Interrogatives_Casey White- Tattoos are practically required in the sports and entertainment worlds these days, so it is no surprise to see an increasing popularity of tattoos among the youth and young adult crowd. Frankly, it seems too painful and too permanent to me.

I spotted an interesting tattoo on a 20 year old weight-lifter this past week. The young man had light brown hair, and looked to be about 200 lbs. His tattoo boldly covered the majority of his right bicep and arm, and consisted of a large, thick golden-brown cross with a bright red serpent wrapped around its base, crawling and hissing upwards.

OK. Perhaps his mom was not thrilled with it. I was not thrilled with it. And yet I found it raising questions in my mind:

- Did this young man choose this symbol with purpose or was it a casual or impetuous choice?

- Did he like the looks of the symbol, choosing it out of a tattoo catalog of some kind, or did it have a deeper meaning for him, and had he been planning this for months?

- Was this Christian symbol of a cross chosen for its spiritual meaning, or was it simply to copy a commonly seen necklace/chain decoration?

- Was the serpent chosen to convey the evil of the world that seems to be creeping its way into a God-fearing society, or was it just the cool red color that clinched its permanent armband position?

- If this symbol were seen in the Bible belt, how would it be greeted? How about in Saudi Arabia? China? Indonesia?

- Will he internalize the conflict of the symbol, and strive to bear his cross while the serpent snarls below?

- Will the snake ever reach the top?

- Will this young man find comfort in this oversized indelible image? Or will he at some point become annoyed by it?

- Does his girlfriend like it?

- Will his wife like it?

- Will he like it 30 years from now... at the beach... building sandcastles with his grandkids?

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to draw any conclusions.


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