The first summer job I had that did not involve ice cream was as a Junior Investigator for the provincial Ombudsman's Office. I wore a tie and sat at a desk with my name on a plastic name plate. I brought the name plate home at the end of the summer and put it on my own desk. My parents smiled and said nothing. But when my grandpa saw it he laughed out loud. "Is that in case you forget who you are?" he asked. I had no answer. When he left I put away the name plate.
My kids want tattoos, which when you think about it are a kind of name plate. When someone asks who you are, you point to the snake on your face. Or the skull smoking a cigar on your arm. Or, if you are Steve-o, you take off your shirt and show the picture of yourself on your back. I am not my grandpa (you know, I don't think I've ever said that before. The question has not arisen) -- meaning that I do not want to take away my kids' fun. Indeed, I am enough of a kid at heart to see the cool factor in a tattoo. But I have to wonder what icon would sum them up?
Ed, for instance, wants the family motto on his shoulder (DISSIPATE -- that's it in the picture) which is pretty good as family mottos go (the Gibbons family motto is I LIVE BY THE SEA, which is descriptive but not exactly powerful, and the Nugents have, HOW DELIGHTFUL THE TEMPLES which is just plain goofy) but not unique to him. I mean, there are thousands of Scrimgers, Scrimgeours, Scrymgeoures, and so on out there with as much right to the motto. In order to uniquefy (yes I made it up) himself, Ed will have to add more words or images. A soccer ball, a Mario character, a cymbal, a steering wheel ... I don't know where it'll end. He's a unique guy. In order to truly express himself he's going to end up looking like Travis Barker.
Or he could get a name plate.