Rethink the ink

I almost got a tattoo for my 40th birthday, but then decided how cliché, how very Cougar Town.

Then, a few weeks ago, I realized what a narrow escape that was after my husband and I sprung for lower-bowl tickets at Arco Arena to watch the Kings play the Phoenix Suns.

Usually we’re camped out in the nosebleed $10 tickets, so down there, hanging out with a different income bracket, we had a better view—not just of the athletes but also of their most rhythmic supporters, the Sacramento Kings Dance Team.

Actually, we had a really good view of them, because apparently pricier tickets buys you the opportunity to have the spangled cheering squad trot up and down the aisles and, if you’re of the single-male variety, maybe even in indulge in a little flirting.

I tried to focus on the game—the Kings were winning!—but every time a dancer paused a few rows down to chat with a fan, kneeling to get in closer, my eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to her tramp stamp, or at least the spot where her tramp stamp so obviously used to be.

A tramp stamp, for the uninitiated, is a tattoo that is not only located squarely above a woman’s rear end but also usually visible, thanks to her proclivity for low-slung pants and midriff-baring tops.

A crude, anti-feminist term, I’ll admit, but hey, that’s how the kids talk.

And, fair description or not, this woman had clearly made an attempt to cover up the tattoo in question, slathering it with a thick concealer.

Now, it’s likely that the Kings dancers are simply forbidden from sporting visible tattoos, but still, it gave me pause, particularly on the heels of a recent trip to Sephora, where I discovered that Kat Von D, the self-proclaimed queen of tattoo culture (and star of the reality show L.A. Ink) is now hawking tubes of tattoo concealer at $24 a pop.

Are tattoos on the wane? Better yet, is Sacramento finally ready to shed its tattoo culture like a scaly, dead skin?

A friend once lamented that Sacramento’s globally known defining characteristics are, in no particular order, trees, Arnold Schwarzenegger, tomatoes and tattoos.

Consider this: Each year, Sacramento hosts an annual tattoo convention at the Sacramento Convention Center. There are also more than two-dozen licensed tattoo parlors in Midtown and downtown alone.

I can only hope that this town, in its never-ending pursuit to stay classy, grow up and be a big-city contender, is at last ready to ditch the Ed Hardy look, the drunken expressionism, the personality-as-an-arm-sleeve ethos.

Full disclosure: I have two tattoos. I am not immune (remember, the near-Cougar Town moment), but moderation is key, especially here. Maybe it’s too late—when Sacramento adopts a trend, it goes overboard (see also: frozen yogurt, pizza joints, Uggs) to the point of ridiculous no return.

But if even a Kings dancer realizes this and wants to freshen up her image, then maybe it’s time for the rest of us to finally lay off the ink as well.