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Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains

Unidentified Flying Object?

Okay, I've had this photo on my camera for some time now, and it's time to do something with it or delete it. (Yes, it is a photo, with the contrast enhanced and converted to grayscale - the original was indigo on pink, if that helps.)

At a wedding we attended some time back, a young woman wearing a dress with spaghetti straps was sporting this tattoo on her shoulder.

As one of the original Star Wars fans (back before CGI allowed special effects to replace plots), I couldn't help wondering what it was. Except for the bulge on top, it sure looked like a Death Star to me. Of course, this was a splendid opportunity for me to put my foot into my mouth. Well, maybe both feet. . . .

Later I was introduced, and in the course of what had been a friendly conversation, I asked her what her tattoo represented.

"What does it look like?"

"Well, a Death Star," I said.

The look she gave me made it obvious that she considered me stupid and deliberately offensive.

In an attempt to kid my way out of an awkward situation (a trick I learned in junior high), I said, "Sorry, I guess I'm the first person who's ever made that mistake."

Her reponse was to avoid me the rest of the evening.

Okay, I was probably a bit rude to ask her what it was. But I was also a bit surprised that she was offended that I couldn't tell.

I'm not a fan of tattoos, because I have enough older friends (folks my age, that is) to know that all the colors but blue fade, and the blue eventually spreads out into an indiscernable blob. Maybe, in spite of her youth (compared to me), this image started as something obvious, and has faded and blobbed to the point that it is indiscernable to anyone seeing it for the first time. To her it still represents a fairy sitting on a flower or something, and she can't believe I was too stupid to see it.

Alternatively, it might be something obvious to most of our readers and I really was too stupid to get it.

If you actually know this young lady, please DON'T bring this article to her attention - I've obviously already embarrassed her enough. But I just wanted to get your take on what this actually might be. If you have an opion, please contact me and let me know what you think it is. I'll publish all printable responses, but I won't publish your name if you don' want me to.

Plus I did want to point out that, no matter how cute or cool your tattoo looks when you get it, eventually, it will just look like a bad - if cleverly patterned - bruise. I know you think you'll never get as old as my friends with the stretched-out or sagging blue blobs where there used to be eagles or rock band logos or something. But you might have the bad luck to live that long. And don't blame other folks if they can't tell you used to be an Aerosmith or Star Wars fan or something.

Looking forward to your suggestions, additions, criticisms, and anything else to let me know you're paying attention, I remain,

Paul Race

Click to see some ways you can help us grow the hobby.P.S. Enjoy your trains. Especially enjoy any time you have with your family in the coming weeks.

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