Top 11 reasons not to get a tattoo

Know how you sometimes look at pictures of yourself taken when you were in high school and wonder, "What the heck was I thinking?"

The clothes you wore, your hair style - it all seemed like such a good idea back then. Now, with a few more miles on the old odometer, you realize a) it never was a good idea, and b) you should never have allowed anyone to photograph you dressed like that unless it was a talent scout from Barnum & Bailey.

On the other hand, at least clothes and hair styles can be changed. You're not stuck wearing the same lime-green leisure suit the rest of your life.

So just imagine what all these teenagers and 20-somethings running around with tattoos are going to be saying to themselves 15 to 20 years down the road.

Of course it's possible tattoos will still be the height of fashion a decade or two from now. But somehow I doubt it. More likely they'll have gone the way of bellbottoms and the mullet.

That realization alone, if you're a young person thinking about "getting some ink," should give you reason for pause. But if you need more reasons, try these, Rob's Top Ten Reasons (Plus One) Not to Get a Tattoo:

11. Your body is a temple, not an abandoned warehouse down by the railroad tracks.

10. You've never passed out drunk in a Singapore nightclub with your Navy buddies.

9. Forget 10 to 15 years down the road. Think about what your tattoo will look like when you're 80.

8. On the other hand, you probably won't have to worry about that: statistically, people with tattoos have a much shorter than average life expectancy. (Can you say "Hepatitis C?")

7. Studies have also shown that people with tattoos are more susceptible to depression and low self-esteem, more likely to use drugs and more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, such as dating other tattooees.

6. Getting a tattoo involves being jabbed repeatedly with a needle. On the pain scale, that's right up there with filling up the gas tank of your SUV.

5. Having a tattoo removed, which requires peeling away large areas of skin with a laser, is even higher on the pain scale - say, on par with watching another Britney Spears comeback.

4. Nobody is going to think you actually have barbed wire wrapped around your upper arm.

3. Little known fact: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, and Martin Luther King Jr. all had secret tattoos. NOT.

2. Remember, ladies: There's a reason they call it a "tramp stamp."

And the number one reason not to get a tattoo: You're not an NBA star, a rap artist or an ex-convict - although with a tattoo, you're much more likely to be the last than either of the first two.

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.