Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving Special: What to Tattoo on Your Pet


We here at the Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth never stop working to provide you with the very best in literary entertainment: to wit, I thought of the following piece while I was asleep in bed (I would cite the well-known fact that I do some of my finest work in bed). This dream, I assure you, is the actual cause of this column, and not some cheap literary device to lend credence to an otherwise unlikely and unpalatable conceit. As proof of this would add further that you were there, and you, and you, and you.

What to Tattoo on Your Pet

Have you ever wanted to tattoo your pet? I haven’t, at least not while I was conscious. Yet here we are, with that very same question that goes unanswered because no one is asking. Why tattoo your pet? I don’t know, because I’m asleep. I don’t sleep well, I have lots of problems. Let’s move on.


Treasure Map

On the face of it, this seems like the most likely sort of thing you are going to tattoo on a dog, once you have made the piratical and rum-fueled decision to tattoo a dog in the first place: dogs are a loyal and innocuous place to store a secret map. Consider, however, that your map will only be secure for about 12 years, after which you will have to have him stuffed and he will no longer be loyal or innocuous.

More importantly, consider how impractical the surface of a shaved dog is for any kind of map projection, unless that map is of the surface of the same or similarly shaped dog. If it is the latter, then it becomes highly questionable as to what sort of “treasure” whose position you are notating, and if it the former, and you are making a map of the surface of your shaved dog on the shaved dog itself, then the field becomes even more radically open as to the question of what the hell it is that you are doing.

Butcher’s Cuts
Here is a gay and inappropriate idea for permanently decorating your dog: why not make like you were going to eat him? Even after its fur grows back (presuming you did not eat him right away -but if you did, why did you bother with the tattoos?) you can romp and play and hug your fuzzy companion knowing that under his fur, he is already designated and gerrymandered up into delicious chops.

In a similar fashion, I often give the most innocent and platonic of hugs and think to myself: We’re naked under these clothes. Totally naked and hugging one another. Our nipples would brush, if not for this flimsy material. Sometimes I think this and whisper it aloud. That is usually the end of the innocent and platonic hugs for that person.

Likewise, if I actually am naked with someone else, I like to put my head on their stomach and think: you’re full of guts, squishy, squishy guts and they’re all talking to each other. It’s like a magical kingdom of soft gooey friends!

If you actually eat you pet, email me and let me know how that goes. Please do not include any attachments.

Your Name
An interesting idea, approaching sense, and yet clearly not qualifying.

Dog’s Name
This is an almost sensible suggestion, were there anything acceptable about the premise of tattooing a dog in the first place and if it didn’t beg the whole “naming picture of language” to begin with.

Your Friend’s Name
Friends and friendship are truly some of the great boons in life, and yet their celebration seems strangely and wholly out of place here. If your friend is your dog, see above. If your friend is not your dog, but they share the same name, read “Your Friend’s Name” (ibid).

Jail Tattoos
This immediately begs the question: what is your dog in jail for? Though one may immediately think of the pound as some sort of canine penal incarceration, the dog pound and jail share important distinctions: even in the worst and most unfair jail the inmates are detained for a specific crime, which they are entitled to know, as is the public, which is further entitled to know the name of those detained; the inmate also still has certain inalienable human rights. Finally, inmates in a jail are kept in minimally tolerable cells; dogs are kept in kennels. How then, do we tell the difference between dogs in a pound and detainees at Guantánamo? Simple: detainees are allowed to wear orange jumpsuits some of the time.

It is unwise to attempt to tattoo a cat. It is marginally unwise to even try and give them a bath. It is best just to let your cat do what it wants. If they were slightly smarter, you could just give them fifty dollars now and again and be done with it.

First of all, is it possible to tattoo a snake? We might ask if it is desirable, but somehow it has come to this anyway. The answer is, I don’t know, and I’m asleep, so I can’t look it up in Wikipedia. Sure, I could look it up in my dream Wikipedia, but suffice it to say when you start basing your decisions on the Wikipedia you consult in your dreams you are living in a fool’s paradise of user generated content.

My advice to you is pass on the obvious: avoid racing stripes and other designs that will blend in with the snake's original design. Tattooing a poisonous snake to look like a non-poisonous is all very sophomoric and degrading to the poisonous snake, who has evolved over millions of years to look cool and threatening. Tattooing non-poisonous snake to look like a poisonous snake is just pathetic and the nail in the coffin for the pitiable cry for attention that having a snake was in the first place.

Given their overall body type and your passion for freaking people out, snakes are suited to long sentences, such as quotations from the Bible, or Leaves of Grass. If the latter, be sure to dress up as Walt Whitman and go downtown to the park; speak in a kindly grandfatherly voice, like the Civil War’s Santa Claus; your eyes are luminous, loving and sad. Ask the gathered kids and old people if they’d like to hear parts of your famous poem Leaves of Grass. When they say yes, let the snake slither out of your bosom and start reading it. This will be the best Thanksgiving ever.

Some of the same questions that apply to snakes apply to fish, only you’re more of lunatic because they live underwater. Considering the inherent difficulty and perversity of tattooing a live fish, it is probably something the Japanese do all the time quite proficiently*.

One immediate pedagogical application that comes to mind is to tattoo the names of the kind of fish you have on the fish itself, realizing the dream of many a distracted ichthyologist at an aquarium. You will also realize the dream of living in a children’s book. However, this is an amazingly stupid thing to do if all you have are goldfish. Once you have tattooed the names of your fish onto your fish (heaven help you), when you finally have someone over and you see them admiring your fish, you can lean over and say: “Pretty fish, isn’t it? Do you know what it’s called?”

You could also tattoo random parts of speech onto your fish in the hopes they will occasionally parse into intelligible random sentences. This is especially helpful if you have to write something random every week.

What? Are you an idiot?

P.S. Close.

next in this series of dream columns: How to Study for the Naked SATs

TURN #89: WEEK 75; WORDS: 84,261