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I have a theory about people with tattoos that I want to share. It may offend 20-46.6% of my reading audience.

I waited for awhile in a long line at IKEA the other day. (When I write “IKEA” I’m not shouting, it’s just that when texting where I was that day my phone’s autocorrect turned “Ikea” into “IKEA,” so I will go with the authorities on this one.)

I counted 15 people waiting in the three available lines near me. I only counted because I noticed something curious: seven of the fifteen in line had visible tattoos.

In line directly in front of me was a woman in her 40s with school aged children and her parents. She had a tattoo on her arm — I forget what it was — and two tattoos that caught my eye right away because of their unusual placement in the center of each calf and their uncanny resemblance to the Transformers logo. Untrained as I am in tattootlage, the Transformer logos turned out to be cleverly designed butterflies.

In the line of IKEA patrons heading to the register on my right, a 30-something woman with her hair up had a tattoo of at least a six inch tall hand flashing the ‘hang loose’ gesture behind her left ear. It would have been much cooler if it was animated.

To my left, I saw a man with a tattoo sleeve. I don’t know the proper term for this, but it is like an unusually colorful shirt sleeve painted down the entire arm, ending at the wrist either buttoned or in french cuffs. I hear monograms are an extra fifteen bucks.

According to a Pew poll, the percentage of Americans under 40 with tattoos is a surprising 40%. Surprising because I thought it was only 38%. A recent Harris poll says 1 out of 5 adult Americans has a tattoo – but that probably includes the old guys with dark, faded anchors and skulls on their wrinkly forearms. Tattoo tech has come a long way since then. In twenty years, tattoos will talk back to us. In 200 years, they will likely take over the world.

My point? The IKEA line, therefore, at 46.6% was not representative of the American population. That said, it was completely under-representative of the tattoo baring Sacramento population, possibly the highest in the developed world.

Anyway, I’m just stalling because I’m afraid to share my theory about people with tattoos. I really don’t want to offend anybody, and if so, I would prefer to only offend 20% than 46.6%.

So back to IKEA. Here we are, the inked and the pasty.

Wait, wait, wait!

The Inked and the Pasty would make an amazing name for a soap opera.

So here we are at IKEA. The tattooed and the erased. I say erased which might also offend because it implies there was an expensive removal treatment, but that’s really not my intent. No matter what they tell you, I’m no erasist.

What do I call people like myself? The “non-tattooed” or “uninked” or “tattooless?”  How about “blank skinned?” All of those make it sound like I’m superior because I haven’t chosen to ink myself. Those kinds of statements represent the worst kind of erasism.

Back to IKEA, again.

As I looked down at my cart, I thought of the hundreds of aisles of IKEA products I had passed. Look it up on their site — 12,000 products fill the store. It’s true. It has more products per square inch than my wife’s purse. There is the large warehouse area with goods stacked Tower of Babel style with hard to find part numbers that you have to get just right to put that table or Billy bookcase together or whatever it is you are purchasing, assembly required. Thousands of household products meant to make their mark in your home.

MAKE THEIR MARK IN YOUR HOME. Did you catch that? I was shouting.

Tattoos. Home products. Marks. Tattoos. Permanence. Home products. Permanence. Choices. Statements.

I stared for a moment at my only IKEA item, a frame with a silly IKEA name, I forget what it was, like “Gillabagam” or something. Translated, it probably means “jabberwocky” or “vinniebarbarino” in English. Looking at the clock, I noticed how long it had taken me to find that frame — somewhere over an hour. This is a frame that will go in a small corner of our home. It will probably be there for three years. Four and a half, tops.

I then saw the tattooed with overflowing yellow bags and wheeled pallets stacked with cardboard boxes. They were buying tables and bookcases and items that would mark their homes for decades to come, if not longer.

I looked at the frame and then at my skinny little pasty naked bare boring little pasty skinny but incredibly useful left arm. At the time, I wasn’t looking at my right arm.

I looked at the hang loose woman and then down at calf butterfly. Total ink cost between the two? Maybe five hundred bucks. Probably less. How much was in their carts? Five hundred bucks or less. Do you see a pattern?

And that is the exact moment I came up with this theory, almost word for word:

“People with tattoos have an easier time buying things at IKEA than I do.”

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P.S. One of my favorite pastimes — scratch that — one of the things I find to be amusing in life is the number of odd, quirky sounding associations. Because there really is an association for everything. Just to be sure, I looked up to see if there is a tattoo association, and I wasn’t disappointed.