She's gotten used to all the quizzical looks.
Randell Holocek works at the San Francisco Sourdough Eatery in Rathdrum, and serves plenty of customers.
Quite a few hesitate before ordering their sandwiches, though, because they're staring at what appears to be illegible writing across Holocek's upper chest – just below her neck.
Could it be Sanskrit, or some language from Asia?
“No, it's English,” she said. “But the entire tattoo is written backwards, so I can see it in the mirror.”
Despite the odd gazes, this sort of body ink — conveying a message to yourself or the outside world — is becoming fairly commonplace.
A Pew Research study found that approximately 40 percent of Millennials now have tattoos, a mighty jump from the days when blurry ink belonged almost exclusively to bikers and convicts.
Now it seems this tattoo craze is tilting toward making a statement on your body.
THE MIRROR says to Randell Holocek: “You are the most important thing to me now, the most important thing to me ever.”
It's an excellent reminder for a 31-year-old woman who aspires to a career in the mental health field.
But she is hardly alone in the world of body messaging.
Perhaps the most spectacular example in this genre came at the 2014 Miss America contest. During the swimsuit competition, Theresa Vail (Miss Kansas) strutted onstage in a loud orange bikini with a Serenity Prayer tattoo covering her entire right side.
In beautiful vertical calligraphy, it said: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Vail, then a 21-year-old Army Reservist, told the media that the prayer had helped her at a tough point in her life, and she wanted it on her body forever.
IS THIS move toward tattoo messaging here to stay?
“It kind of started as a fad, like most things,” said Randel Dickerson, owner of Inksmith Custom Tattoo on North Government Way in Hayden. “In the ‘90s, the big thing was tribal sleeves.
“But then people began wanting actual writing, like Bible verses or personal messages. Some ask for famous quotes.
“Tattoos are basically going to be there forever, so I always educate customers about that. Do you want this message on your skin for life?”
Dickerson said the desire to make statements with ink — on what might be called your personal canvas — has showed no signs of slowing.
The truth may be that people are desperate to say something, to themselves or others, and Idahoans are no different.
“I'm really glad it's there,” Holocek said of her tattoo.
She knows that the writing looks just plain odd to everyone else, but insisted, “That's OK. It'll always have meaning when I see it.”
The hard numbers on Millennials suggest that Holocek is really not an outlier and, matter of fact, the rest of us should get used to seeing tattoo billboards on folks of all ages, cultures and demographics.
So what do want inked on your chest?
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Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press. You can reach Steve via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook by searching for “A Brand New Day.”
If you don't already have a tattoo, would you get one? Would you choose a meaningful message? What would it say?