One can certainly trust the Post to select op-eds on the important issues of the day. Richard Cohen edifies his readers with this gem:
Tattoos are the emblems of our age. They bristle from the biceps of men in summer shirts, from the lower backs of women as they ascend stairs, from the shoulders of basketball players as they drive toward the basket, and from every inch of certain celebrities. The tattoo is the battle flag of today in its war with tomorrow. It is carried by sure losers.
Losers: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, etc.
It gets better:
I asked a college professor what she thought of tattoos, and she said that for young people, they represent permanence in an ever-changing world. But how is that possible? Anyone old enough and smart enough to get into college knows that only impermanence is permanent. Everything changes — including, sweetie, that tight tummy with its "look at me!" tattoo. Time will turn it into false advertising.
It gets better still, for the grumpy old man tattoo diatribe was merely a set-up:
The permanence of the moment — the conviction that now is forever — explains what has happened to the American economy. We are, as a people, deeply in debt. We are, as a nation, deeply in debt. The average American household owes more than its yearly income. We save almost nothing (0.4 percent of disposable income) and spend almost everything (99.6 percent of disposable income) in the hope that tomorrow will be a lot like today. We bought homes we could not afford and took out mortgages we could not pay and whipped out the plastic on everything else. Debts would be due in the future, but, with any luck, the future would remain in the future.
I would say that getting a tattoo may be something remotely like what happened to certain people in debt, but I think it strains credulity to say that it "explains" the economy. (For more on that topic, there's the almost–almost I say–equally shallow economic/social/political analysis of David Brooks in today's Times). Back to tattoos:
But the tattoos of today are not minor affairs or miniatures placed on the body where only an intimate or an internist would see them. Today's are gargantuan, inevitably tacky, gauche and ugly. They bear little relationship to the skin that they're on. They don't represent an indelible experience or membership in some sort of group but an assertion that today's whim will be tomorrow's joy. After all, a tattoo cannot be easily removed. It takes a laser — and some cash.
I have decades' worth of photos of me wearing clothes that now look like costumes. My hair has been long and then longer and then short. My lapels have been wide, then wider, then narrow. I have written awful columns I once thought were brilliant and embraced ideas I now think are foolish. Nothing is forever.
Seize the day — laser tomorrow.
What about your columns, Richard? You can't undo those.
*Teneo vestri vox doesn't mean anything, but it appears as a tattoo on Angelina Jolie in a recent movie. See here for more. But in the meantime, since so many have asked, here's why it means nothing. Latin words get their grammatical significance from their endings (not, as is often the case, from their position in the sentence). So teneo means "I hold," vestri (a possessive adjective without an antecedant) means "of yours [all])," and "vox" means "voice" or "the voice" (in the nominative case). Put them together this way and you have nonsense: there's no grammatical object for the transitive verb, vox is nominative but is not the subject, and the possessive adjective doesn't modify anything. You might as well string any three words together–dog yours telephone–and tattoo that on your body, that's about how much sense it makes.