Monday, April 29, 2013

Whatever you think of me, I'm still your friend, with or without a tattoo.

Risking the wrath of Uncle Scott, Jared sent me another video, along with a message that he had a tattoo bearing my name applied to his upper arm. He's probably the first person in his family on either side of a long line of Mormons who date all the way back to the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to have gotten a tattoo. The significance of the tattoo is that now Jared cannot go on a mission. LDS missionaries, at least in the US culture, do not sport tattoos. It's conceivable that at some later date the tattoo could be removed, and Jared could repent and still serve his mission. It won't happen anytime soon, though, and probably won't happen at all.

Gossip travels fast in Mormon student congregations even at UCLA. Jared's bishop got wind of the tattoo, called Jared in to see it for himself, and promptly called Jared's father, telling him the mission is a no go. (This is one of my major issues with the LDS church. Jared, at  eighteen, is a legal adult.  Why did an ecclesiastical authority feel the need to inform Jared's father of his son's most egregious sin,  which isn't a violation of any state or local law -- only a Mormon law. For that matter,  it's a damned tenuous "Mormon law" he broke. Some random "prophet" has a "revelation" that tattoos are bad, and BOOM! It's a commandment! Jared didn't break any of the ten commandments except possibly #5, "Honor thy parents," and that one was broken only in the vaguest sense. At some point a young man's body ceases to be the property of his parents, and if he chooses a piercing or a tattoo, it's not dishonoring one's parent; it's self expression. Does a parent have a son (sorry to be crude) by the testicles until the day either the parent or child dies by hanging the threat of the fifth commandment and the consequences of its violation over the son's head for as long as the parent can speak? In a civilized society, I would certainly hope not.  

By now the bird poop has hit the fan.  Jared's father wanted him to come home tonight. Jared refused to go, as he has classes for the rest of the week, and he didn't feel like fighting traffic along US 101 just to be screamed at in person, then to have to fight traffic back down US 101 to get back to campus. It seemed like a waste of both time and gasoline.

I'm sending along the video Jared sent me. It's of a Gordon Lightfoot song about a guy who had too much to drink, then went into a tattoo parlour and had a woman's name tattooed somewhere on his body. The melody to me doesn't fit the subject matter of the song. It sounds more like a tune for a song about the Duchess of Wales' new baby, or maybe about Jesus feeding the mutitudes with five loaves of bread and two fish. The melody is just too dolce to be about a tattoo. Regardless, it's Gordon Lightfoot's song, and I supose he can write it about anything he wants. At least it's not about a shipwreck in which twenty-nine people lost their lives.

So it appears Jared has made his decision, and in a unique way, I might add. I applaud his creativity as I applaud his courage in doing what he feels is best for his own life despite considerable pressure to do otherwise.  My only regret in the entire matter is, first, that he felt that a tattoo was his only way out of serving a mission, and second, that it is my name tattooed on his arm. Only God knows, if even He knows, where Jared  and I will be relationship-wise in ten years.

I hope Jared's father considers one point. What if it hadn't occurred to Jared to get a tattoo to avoid serving a mission? What if Jared had taken a more drastic step?  Jared would not have been the first young LDS man to take his own life to avoid serving a mission, or to do the same because he couldn't cope with the craziness once he found himself in the mission environment.  Jared's father should be thanking the God he worships that he still has a living, breathing son, even if that son does have the name "Alexis" emblazoned across his right bicep.



  1. My husband's ex stepson moved to Illinois to avoid a mission. He said he hoped to start a band. The move lasted less than a year. Then he went back to Arizona and eventually got married. Then when his mother moved to New Hampshire, he was lured there. She probably paid for the move somehow.

    That's a very nice song. It does sound like it should be used in some heartfelt scene on a Lifetime movie, but I think it's pretty. While I don't know that Jared's decision to get your name tattooed was a wise one, it was a rather creative way to avoid going on a mission! Too bad he didn't have something tattooed on him that was a personal interest or something. If you don't marry this guy, his future wife will have to see that tattoo every day! I hear tattoo removals are painful and expensive, too. But at least he doesn't have to do a mission now.

    Anyway, I like the song and had never heard if before. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I hate the lack of boundaries in the LDS Church. That bishop had no business tattling on a legal adult to his parents. Now if Jared had been consumed with guilt and confessed to going a little too far with you or some other girl, his bishop in CA might have called your/her bishop and you/she would have been called into his office. I tell these stories to people who've never been Mormon and they're flabbergasted.

  3. That was bold. Albeit the circumstance, it's unfortunate that this situation has become so chaotic for him (regarding the mission, specifically). Tattoo, or no tattoo. Things are complicated enough when first entering adulthood, but adding religion into the mix just makes everything so much more complicated. I guess some would argue that it's at this time when a young person needs the grace of God the most. If anything you'd think the head honchos in his church would try to help facilitate how to best help Jared serve in a way that he feels comfortable with. Though, I guess that negates the lesson of a mission. I don't know, I'm rambling now. It's just... sad for everyone involved now. His parents, him. Religion is so personal and individual... especially when the wrath of God is involved, no matter how it looks from the outside.

  4. As a former Mormon myself, I find Jared's tale rather amusing but also sad. I was raised in that church and my ancestors date back to the early days of the church. These people are controlling and only see black and white, there are no shades of gray anywhere. They do not know what boundaries are, most especially parents. I hope your friend stays strong and continues to be true to himself.

  5. Holy cow... And Mormons wonder why people think they're a weird bunch... going ape over an easy-to-hide non-offensive tattoo! :oP Kudos to Jared for having the gall to do it. :o)

    On second thought, I'm not sure what it says about the LDS church's priorities that a single tattoo of a name on an arm is enough to get someone banned from serving a mission...

    PS: Thanks a bunch for referring me to this blog, Knotty! :o)

    1. I'm glad you took my advice and visited, Smorgy!

    2. Smorgy, thanks for stopping by! And thanks for th referral, Knotty.

    3. I've been bugging Smorg to visit you for awhile, Alexis. She's a big opera buff, and on her blog, she wrote a great series on investigating Mormonism. You should check it out.

      Incidentally, I "met" Smorg on Epinions several years ago, but I don't think she hangs there so much now.