Tuna, Trinancria & Tattoos


While sitting in the barber shop today I heard an interesting conversation as to the whereabouts of Nicky.  It seems as if no one has seen or heard much of Nicky lately.  I don’t know who Nicky is, but as the story unfolded it turns out he was divorced 2 years ago.  And like any life crisis, the first thing you want to start doing is living again.  So, he went out and got thousands of dollars of tattoos and started hanging out at the trendy sushi places to pick up “chicks” (aka women, females, partners, etc).  In spite of the fact that Nicky had this new hobby of being tattooed which younger women found fascinating, Nicky still was not feeling so great.  He even wondered if he still loved his ex-wife.  Rest assured, that was not the problem.   After several doctors and 18 months later he found a neurologist at Morristown Hospital (an excellent hospital in my opinion) and the neurologist asked about his diet.  He told him he loves sushi, goes out to eat it almost every night.  “And for lunch?” the doctor asked, Nicky replied “tuna sandwiches, I like tunafish, its easy to make, and I don’t know how to cook”.  The doctor asked how long he had those tattoos on his arms.  Nicky told him almost 2 years.  At this point, I don’t think it takes a brain surgeon to realize the obvious.  Nicky had mercury poisoning.

Forget the tattoos for a minute.  Its been very well documented that sushi, like everything else, as healthy as fish is, still should be eaten in moderation unless you are an eskimo and separated by thousands of miles of ice from the closest factory.  Sure, canned tuna is cooked while being processed, but heavy metals like mercury does not cook out.  The good news is, mercury does not absorb into the system and/or cannot be digested, but just contact with the skin is enough to cause you a great deal of medical problems.  You can look that up later if you are curious.

But this brings me to my main point of the popular trend of body ink or tattoos.  I don’t have any, but I don’t have anything against them.  Sure, some are very cool and I even thought about getting one in college, or even today.  I just don’t know what I can commit to forever except my love of food, drink and travel.  But I really can’t see getting a martini glass, lobster or Boeing 747 tattooed anywhere on my body.  Sure I love my Sicilian-American heritage, and thought to get the Trinacria on my left arm.  For those who never saw it, its bright yellow gold, vibrant red, and of course medusa with the bright green snakes.

Here are some examples and interpretations of the symbol:
The first, the traditional symbol of Sicily. Its a pagan symbol put on the outside of temples to keep invading soldiers from entering, raiding and looting.  The Medusa, from Greek mythology says that if you stare into the eyes of the Goddess Medusa, you will turn to stone.  Myth, fact or superstition, it would keep anyone entering twice or looking into the eyes of this symbol.

Next we have a really cool updated and/or modern interpretation which is more zen-like.  I think I might to get one that looks like this if the mood should ever strike me.

The 3 legs represent the 3 coastlines of Sicily.  The Greeks thought of women’s legs to be beautiful, hence the association of Sicily’s 3 beautiful coastlines.  Here is another image below of the Triancria in the center of the shape of Sicily.

This version is the one I usually identify with. Its the Sicilian flag of Independence.  Sicily was invaded, settled and shares the culture of so many different influences including Italian, French, Spanish, Norman, Greek, etc. etc.  So, Whenever someone asks me what I was and I said “Sicilian” they always said “Isn’t that Italian, what’s the difference?” Fact is, Sicily is a lot closer to Tunisia in Africa than it is to Rome.  Its almost like calling a Texan a Yankee.  Its not only inaccurate, it can be dangerous.  Nonetheless, I embrace my Sicilian Ancestory as an extension of my Italian culture.

I can promise you that if I ever get a tattoo, it will not be the one of flag of Sicilian separation and segregation from italy.  Its too tacky, too crazy, the colors just don’t work and I am more of a traditionalist to begin with.

So, getting back to the tattoo, its not for me. And if it was, I’d have to be pretty careful. Many tattoo shops pride themselves on their artwork, as it is an art form.  And if you ever wonder why a particular tattoo shop has more vibrant tattoos that have such vibrant colors that last longer than those done anywhere else.  It possibly can be because they use a coloring not approved by the FDA.  In fact, they can contain traces of lead and other toxins that deliver and keep those colors bright on your skin for years to come.

Again, I have nothing against tattoos, “A” tattoo is fine, maybe a couple on a guy, and sure a woman with an armband to me seems sexy at times, but otherwise, for me, it should be an accent, not a person’s entire being.  I like spicy food, but I don’t like my shrimp floating in Tabasco sauce, I believe there is a balance to everything, in food, in drink, in life, and especially body art.

The moral of this story:  Eat your fish, its good for you.  Don’t eat it every single day, especially if its raw.  You like tattoos, think about what you want and what you want to identify with when your older and its still there.  Don’t be the person with the Motley Crue tattoo on your butt and explaining to your niece or nephew you got it when you were drunk one night.  If its truly an art form to you, treat it like that.  Not like a bumper sticker or comic book art (unless you really love bumper stickers and cartoons). And once you do decide, make sure its done by a reputable, respectable tattoo place that is not using banned substances to keep them in business even if they look killer.  Or, choose a safe color like black which you know is safe.

Its amazing what you can learn in an old school Italian barbershop one rainy Thursday morning.  Good luck Nicky, whoever you are.


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