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.