I have been thinking about getting a tattoo.

My sister, Linda, has two of them - the first of which is a little flower she had needled on her ankle when turned 70. She liked it so well that she had one put on her other ankle a year later.

I turned 70 on May 17th and thought about doing likewise. After all, why should my sister be "out there" and "with it" while I remain "buttoned down?"

My son, Wes, also has a tattoo. He got his on his 40th birthday. It is on his upper arm near his shoulder and says "Midlife Crisis."

Still, I am hesitant. The idea of a permanent inking of something on my skin seems rash (no pun intended).

Veterans brought the first wave of tattoos back from service in World War II. They had anchors and ships and tributes to their mothers painted permanently across their chests and down their arms. When they got home their mothers and wives and sweethearts demanded an explanation.

(Not a lot of tattooing had taken place on the farm while they were gone.)

To a man, they claimed war fatigue and poor decisions while in the embrace of demon booze. The stories usually began: "I went out with the guys one night in Singapore and woke up with 'I love Wong Su Lee' tattooed on my bicep."

Some of these men then went to college on the G.I. Bill and in the 1950s became doctors, lawyers and business executives. They moved up into a society that saw "I love Wong Su Lee" tattoos as low class and unprofessional. So, they wore long sleeved shirts and only went swimming after dark.

We are not that inhibited anymore.

Tattoo art has become almost as accepted in Bartholomew County as the Henry Moore pelvis at the county library. Today, not having a tattoo is quickly becoming the rebellious thing to do.

I stood in line at Target not long ago behind a man in a coat and tie who had what looked like lightning bolts coming out of his collar to attack his right ear. In the pet food aisle, I (unintentionally) looked down to see a woman squatting near the cat litter with what appeared to be a depiction of the "Charge of the Light Brigade" tattooed on her lower back and headed down into her underwear.

Something in me likes that kind of free-wheeling expression.

Wasn't I the guy who pegged his jean legs so tightly in 1960 that his feet went to sleep for three weeks? Wasn't I the guy who grew his hair down over his ears and wore sandals in the snow drifts of 1966? Wasn't I the guy who went off to live in West Africa in 1969 to protest Richard Nixon's presidency?

No matter how old we get, I think the really significant contributors to our community and world are those who rebel against the norms and the givens and see things in a new and radical way.

That might be the tattoo people. I am not sure. If it is, I will definitely need a tattoo. If not, I may need to pierce a nostril. While it might hurt a bit and could stir up my cat dander allergies, I need to be "out there."

After all, at age 70, how "permanent" can anything be?