I was about 10 years old when I got my first tattoo. As I recall, this one, showing a galloping horse, came out of a box of Wheaties.
With great care, I placed the thin paper picture on my arm and followed the instructions to keep the area wet while the ink was transferred to my skin.
The result was a somewhat blurry outline, but one I was proud to display to my pals.
At the time, the popularity of these cereal-box transfers had everyone in my gang of friends sporting their own body art and comparing pictures.
Fortunately, both the fad and the tattoos were short-lived. Time and some soap and water removed the transfers.
But today's body art craze is far harder to correct.
Recently, as I paid for my purchases at a local store, I noticed the cute little blonde cashier had a colorful and complex tattoo covering the entire area from her neck past the top of her blouse. Her wrists and lower arms, too, were adorned with body art vines and flowers.
Back in the car, I couldn't stop thinking of how this young woman's tattoos will affect her future fashion choices.
At the beach, no matter how attractive her figure or her bathing suit, every eye will be drawn to the wide-spread body art that marks her skin.
And, when she's preparing for her wedding, chances are she'll have to find a gown with long sleeves and a turtleneck.
I realize I'm hopelessly out of step with the younger generation on this topic, but I simply can't imagine opting to undergo the pain and expense of marking my body with such decorations, no matter how attractive they seem. Yet these days, more and more young folks are choosing tattoos.
Along with the growing popularity - and availability - of tattoos, there is an equally increasing need for a means of removing them.
A recent study reported at least 50 percent of those who have had tattoos regret their decision and want them erased.
Fortunately, science has developed a means of eradicating the skin art, but a specialist in the laser work required warns the treatment is difficult, lengthy and painful.
As one prominent expert pointed out, "People have no idea how hard it is to get (a tattoo) off."
The description of the process suggests, "Think hot bacon grease spattered on the skin. Think the sting of a stretched rubber band smacking you from up close. Then imagine paying $150 to $1,000 for the multiple appointments needed to obliterate a tattoo."
Our friend, Joe, was a young serviceman when he had a number of patriotic tattoos added to his body. One, a large banner on his back, extends from shoulder to shoulder, proclaiming his pride in being a Marine.
Joe, who is now in his 70s, says he was an idiot to get tattooed. He would like nothing better than to have the markings removed. But, at over $1,000 per session to get the artwork lasered off, he knows he's going to be living with his youthful decision for the rest of his days.
I'm with Joe. The idea of undergoing that kind of procedure would certainly make me reconsider.
Looking back, I'm glad that when I journeyed into the land of tattoos, my body art was easily removed with a bit of soap and water.