Close your eyes. Imagine for a moment you are 18 years old. Think back to that time long ago. Remember who you were then, and what year it was. Got it? Good.
You're getting up in the morning in your old bedroom, getting dressed in your favorite jeans and shirt, thinking about your day. For some of you, this will be senior year of high school; others will have already entered that first strange, heady, bittersweet post-school summer; still others will be working at some entry level job, or excitedly attending college for the first time. On this particular day you are walking, nay, truckin' down the street, humming the latest pop song under a cloudless sky.
Suddenly you hear a high, vibrating sound, and stop, puzzled. None of your peers in the vicinity seem to notice. Louder and louder it grows, and to your amazement, the world and everyone in it seems to slow down, then freeze into immobility. The air around you begins to glitter and vibrate, and a wave of vertigo comes over you.
To your astonishment, materializing in front of you is a smiling, nattily-dressed gentleman. I leave it to your imagination just how a nattily-dressed gentleman would look in that year of your life, but you might experiment, in your mind's eye, with something that combines, in an artful way, the outrageousness of vintage Elton John with all the class of your preferred version of James Bond.
EXTERIOR, HOME TOWN
You: Who are you? What's going on?
Stranger: (tipping his hat and bowing) Lockart Inkfast, Esquire, at your service. I'm here because you're an incredibly cool person and you should have a tattoo.
You: A tattoo? You gotta be kidding. My uncle has a tattoo on his arm. He got in the Navy during the war. It's all green and faded and distorted, and has age spots and a lot of hair all over it.
Inkfast: Tattoos look much better than that now, I assure you. This is 19-- after all; every aspect has vastly improved.
You: (frowning in concern) This is crazy. And why has the world stopped?
Inkfast: Before you say no, listen to my offer. Normally tattoos are really painful, which I know some people say is part of the committment process, blah blah blah. And I know you don't have a lot of money right now, either, but I'll simply snap my fingers and give you one, for free. Better still, it'll be painless.
You: Listen, I need to get going... I'm meeting some friends at the record store.
Inkfast: (slips a chummy arm around your shoulder) Look, I just want to make the world a more interesting place, one tattoo at a time. Thought I'd start with you. Pretty great, eh? Wouldn't you like to be on the leading edge of something amazing?
You: There must be a catch.
Inkfast: No catch, as such. That is to say, it's flaw is really its feature.
You: Um, I need to think about this.
Inkfast: Oh, I can help you with that. I have pictures. It can be anything you imagine, anything at all. Any color, style, placement, or subject matter... but the most brilliant thing of all is this special questionnaire. (hands you a flat, futuristic and amazing-looking cordless electronic device)
You: What's an... iPad? How does it work?
Inkfast: Easy peasy. Here, let me show you...
SAME LOCATION, HALF HOUR LATER
You: (handing over the iPad, still amazed) Well, I filled it all out. You're right-- those questions really did help me choose.
Inkfast: So, you've decided. For me, this is the fascinating bit.
You: Let's do it. How does it work?
Inkfast: A cinch. Just close your eyes, click your heels together three times...
You: You've got to be kidding.
Inkfast: Why is that any harder to believe than this iPad? Let me finish, OK?
You: Sorry. You were saying?
Inkfast: Click your heels, and say Time Stands Still, Tomorrow Never Comes.
You: That's it?
In your hand, yellow and crumbling around the edges, is a printout of that questionnaire you filled out all those years ago.
How you answered the questions on that fateful day in your eighteenth year-- and the permanent design it inevitably led to-- is something only you can answer.
Favorite movie or television show
Favorite graphics style
Favorite inspirational saying
Favorite fashions you wear
Favorite area of your body you want to enhance
Favorite exotic culture
Favorite person in your life
Lucky you, to be visited by that Time-Traveling Purveyor of Permanent Dreams, a certain dapper and accommodating Lockart Inkfast, Esquire! Not that it's any different in the long run, but legions of other tattoo-seekers must submit to that awful needle and pay hard-earned money for their permanent body art... but you-- you lucky devil!-- you got that really great one for free, simply by answering a few key questions, and clicking your heels.
Time Stands Still, Tomorrow Never Comes.