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Age doesn't matter...

This article is by Mark O'Brien from

I winced and shrugged 15 years ago when I first noticed young people racing to get tattoos.

I winced because tattoos involve needles and I'm a sissy. I shrugged because tattoos were something I neither feared nor craved.

Every generation feels the need to outdo its parents' rebellion. Just as my crowd grew long hair to upset our Great Depression parents, I figured Generations X and Y took up tattoos to emphasize their independence from their baby boomer parents.

But over time, my thinking changed. That's why I got two tattoos this summer.

Both involve sports teams from my childhood, but they have bigger lessons for me. One reminds me of the need to persevere, the other to stay humble.

My wife and my mother decided the tattoos indicate a mid-life crisis — every woman's handy explanation for all things male. Maybe they're right, but it's less expensive to put a couple human Post-it notes on my arms than to buy a motorcycle, change careers or do other middle-age crazy things.

The first tattoo began to form in my mind last winter as I watched the Boston Celtics start a run that would make them National Basketball Association champions in June, ending a long drought for a team that ruled basketball in the 1950-60s and again for much in the 1980s.

The lesson to me: If someone works hard, he can overcome hard times and be a winner. The Celtics were especially impressive because their three stars — Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — subjugated their egos and worked together rather than seeking individual glory.

That's why the green Celtics logo with the leprechaun is on my left arm.

The idea for the Red Sox tattoo on my right arm actually has very little to do with baseball.

Instead, it reminds me of how people sometimes become obsessed with something — as I was with the Red Sox as a kid — and how we worry too much about small stuff.

There's another angle.

Many Red Sox fans hate the New York Yankees, just as some Southerners hate Northerners because of the Civil War, 145 years ago. Yet, the Yankees hardly know the Red Sox fans exist, just as Northerners seldom think of the Southerners who spend so much energy hating them.

So this tattoo, on my right arm, reminds me to keep an open mind, to take people as they are, to not prejudge them.

Even if they don't like tattoos.


  1. I didn't get my first tattoo until I was 50. My second when I was 53. I fought my kids when they were teenagers about the stupidity of tattoos especially since cartoon characters were so popular at the time.
    Ate my own words as I now feel they are expressions of ourselves and a reminder of important things in our lives. Now my kids laugh at their tattooed Momma.

  2. That's so cool! Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment. I think it's awesome you got tattooed.

    There are so many ways to look at tattoos. Some see it as a bad thing and there are some that see it as art. And there are some that get tattooed for a special reason, maybe to remember someone.

    And yea...welcome to the club Delaney55!


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