I don't know when this started, but I've become very suggestible lately. I first noticed it when I was watching The Sopranos. Every time they ate a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, I wanted a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. I couldn't help myself. I craved spaghetti and meatballs, even though eating carbs is now against federal law and I'm supposed to be a vegetarian. Still, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about spaghetti and meatballs.
Then it got worse.
I was watching Sex and the City reruns, and I wanted a nice pink Cosmo, or three. During a Wendy's commercial, I wanted a square hamburger. And every time KFC came on TV, I'd be thinking extra crispy is the best. Extra crispy always hits the spot. I'd just love me some extra crispy right about now.
But it went beyond food.
I'd watch tennis, and I'd want to be a professional tennis player. I'd watch Top Chef, and I'd want to cook for chef Tom Colicchio.
Bottom line, I'm starting to want whatever I see on television, and lately I'm watching Miami Ink.
You can see where this is going.
Miami Ink is a reality show about people who go to this tattoo parlor in Miami and walk out covered with tattoos. There's a little story behind each person's tattoo, and many of the stories are sad. There are parents who get tattoos to memorialize children who died; there are teenagers who get tattoos to memorialize parents who died. Plenty of people get tattoos of their dogs and cats who died. All this dying and all this tattooing, I can't take it. I cry like a baby through every episode.
But that's beside the point. The point is that I went from being a person who was disgusted by tattoos to being a person who wants tattoos very badly.
I think about tattoos all the time now. I look at pictures in magazines and wonder, would that make a nice tattoo? I squint at tattoos on other people, appraising them with a critical eye. I visit Web sites showing tattoos when I'm supposed to be working. I think about tattoos so much that I have already selected three, though they are imaginary.
And because I have to decide where to put my three imaginary tattoos, I think about that, too. Should they go on my arms? Too flabby. Lower back? No tramp stamp for me. Ankle? Looks like dirt with heels. Neck? Can you say state prison?
There are a lot of choices to be made in the imaginary world in which I live.
I suspect, however, that I'm not the only person to pick out imaginary tattoos. Fess up. You know you want one. If you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine:
I like Kewpie dolls, so for my first tattoo, I thought it would be nice to have a tiny Kewpie doll on the inside of my wrist, where it will be discreet, even classy. (OK, maybe not classy.)
For my second tattoo, I would like an old-fashioned sacred heart, but I don't know where on my body to put one. It's too butch for my arm, and I could burn in hell if I put it anyplace else. You take your chances with the religious tattoos, and you don't want to be thumbing your nose at you-know-who.
Thirdly, I think one of those colorful Japanese scenes would be nice, something with orange koi or calcium-white kabuki masks, or an ornate kimono of threaded gold. I can't decide about that last tattoo. I think about it a lot. It has replaced spaghetti and meatballs in my magical thinking, at least for the time being.
Unfortunately, I've passed my suggestibility on to my daughter, Francesca. We watch Miami Ink together, and though she doesn't want a tattoo, she wants the tattoo artist - Ami, the star of the show. Come to think of it, I want Ami, too. And while we're on the subject, I also want Tom Colicchio from Top Chef. He's more my age, and with his bald head and intense gaze, he's my Telly Savalas.
It turns out that the power of suggestion extends to everything on TV.
Maybe I should get a tattoo of Chef Tom?
Lisa Scottoline is a best-selling author, most recently of "Daddy's Girl." She can be reached at www.scottoline.com.