Tattoos are Forever, Kids

Submitted by Six Zero on May 31st, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Feeling a little philosophical this morning, my friends.  I've been thinking all day about all of this whole mess over there in Columbus, and how the meltdown is deserved and how it will affect the Brady Hoke era.  But then I got to thinking about life, and young men, and the choices I make.

And I got to thinking about Terrelle Pryor.  I remember sitting in bed sick as a dog on National Signing Day, waiting for the first victory in the rivalry by Rich Rodgriguez, only to be blown off by an eighteen-ish year old kid several hours away from me.  And even then, as I sat hoping he would choose a block M hat somehwere, I began to dislike him.

But throughout all of this, he is just a young man, making choices.  We've recently seen in our own camp how the choices of a young man can and will crush his dreams, and you can all speculate about who I am referring to.  But these choices affect us only until their position is filled by another athlete.  But for the student-- the kid-- it will affect much more.

Hey, look at my ink, son

Ten, twenty years from now, Terrelle Pryor (and probably each of the rest of his Tat-gate posse) will wake up.  He will scramble out of bed, perhaps a bit slowly as a result of a few, or even several, years in the National Football League.  I will not speculate on the quality of his home, or perhaps who might be lying beside him in that bed.  But he will wake up and have to pee.

And so Terrelle will go into the bathroom, a pale shadow of the athlete he once was.  He will turn on the light, and look in the mirror.  He'll stare into his own eyes, at peace with the choices he's made.  He will be able to sleep at night, and he'll have made peace with himself, and the media, and the fans of the school that he may not have graduated from, but he played football at.  He'll be okay with the tremendous scrutiny he suffered as he moved onto the world of professional sports, and all of the decisions both smart and poor he will have made with the resulting payoff.  He will have moved on with his life.

But then, he'll see them.

Right there, as he reaches for the toothbrush, he'll see those damn tattoos.  No matter where he goes in life, and no matter what he does with his God-given talents, those tattoos will follow him to the farthest reaches of the earth.  Those permanently inked stains of skin, up to and including that iconic Block "O" that symbolizes the very school he painfully severed ties with (and perhaps later sold down the river in a tantalizing ESPN the Magazine tell-all), will be there looking back at him.  When he gets married, they will be beneath his suit.  When he cradles his firstborn son, they will be there in the pictures.  When he reaches out in forgiveness or humility, they will be there.  They will remain as permanent and all-encompassing stamps of his life.

And no matter where he goes, or what he does for the rest of his days on the great green Earth, he will be defined by them.

Life is about decisions, kids.  And decisions are about the rest of your life.



May 31st, 2011 at 10:49 PM ^

Careful with this statement.  It is true that, at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, the graphite state has a lower free energy (is more stable) than the diamond state.  (The opposite is true deep in the earth, where high temperatures and pressures favor diamond over graphite: this is how diamonds get formed in the first place).

However, it is mostly misleading to say that, as a result, diamonds are slowly turning into graphite.  Strictly speaking, it's true, but the key word is "slowly."  The rock on your lady's finger (or yours) isn't going to turn into pencil lead in your lifetime, or probably even in the lifetime of the human race.  Diamonds are kinetically stable:  a huge input of energy is required to actually rearrange the bonds in diamond to produce graphite.  That huge input of energy isn't available unless you get things really, really hot (like, hotter than your home oven can get on "broil"), so by any practical definition, this means diamonds are not busy turning into graphite.

On the other hand, don't put that diamond into a flame.  A diamond dropped in the bottom of your charcoal barbeque fire will burn quite nicely.

/thermodynamics lesson

(note to Schrodinger'sCat: this post wasn't directed at you specifically; I assume from your moniker and Feynmann quote that you know all this.  My point is that scientific facts can be misleading to non-scientists, which truth most scientists seem painfully ignorant of.)

//science and public policy soapbox


May 31st, 2011 at 12:33 PM ^

As a tattooed fellow myself, I think that those tattoos are going to be good for Pryor. Sure, he may wish them gone at times, but they will be there to remind him of his past and his path. His relationship to his tattoos will change over time. He wil love them, hate them, forget about them, and then come to consider them a very personal statement of the road he has traveled.

The Michigan fan in me hopes he comes to realize what an ass he's been. But the more generous part of me hopes those tattoos help him grow up by reminding him of your main point: some decisions are forever and a person should think hard about them.



May 31st, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

There are a lot of tattooed players out there, some with very intricate designs.  Many of these guys are from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Would it surprise anyone if the tattoos-for-autographs thing were a common practice across the country?  Not to exonerate OSU, but this seems like something that could easily be abused.


May 31st, 2011 at 1:48 PM ^

That's an interesting point, and is something I've been wondering myself. Is this a widespread thing that just happened to get uncovered at OSU due to some light shone in the right corner? I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that this isn't just isolated to OSU and other "sleezy" schools.

Number 7

May 31st, 2011 at 3:25 PM ^

I always thought Jordin Spark's signature hit ("Just Like a Tattoo,' although that's probably not the real name)  was one of the most annoying pop tunes of the past decade or so, but should the Michigan Marching Band break out a version next fall, I'm sure I will come to appreciate it a little better.


June 1st, 2011 at 12:45 AM ^

by saying I couldn't get a tattoo until I was 21.  So I avoided the now cliche tats that seemed totally sweet and cutting edge back in '98.  And I got branded instead (he never said I couldn't do that).  Just as permanent, if not moreso, but way more individualistic for a Caucasian like me.

Thanks, Dad.  I owe you one.