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The Unending Allure Of the Tattoo Boyfriend and the Pretty Girlfriend

This week, a friend of mine tweeted, “Why do so many celebrity women date men who look like a pub toilet wall?” He was responding to a paparazzi photo of Kourtney Kardashian and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, Kardashian grasping Barker’s tattooed hand, attached to Barker’s very tattooed arm, neck, chest, and face.

I bristled and went on the defense, not just because Blink-182 was a formative musical influence for me. It was because I came to the reluctant decision that I support this odd coupling of the celebrated punk musician and a member of one of the most famous and reviled families on the planet.

At first, the pairing was easy enough to brush off as another Kardashian attention-seeking stunt, a way to distract us from the fact that Kourtney’s 38-year-old ex-husband Scott Disick is busy shacking up with a woman who just turned 20. Maybe it still is. But several things can be true at once: The Kardashians know how to get people talking, Barker loves a glamour girl, social media is as highly manufactured as celebrity couplings, and…and… Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker are an oddly endearing couple.

“She likes riding with the top down,” reads one Instagram post by Barker, accompanied by a set of photos of him and the eldest Kardashian sister. They posed with a black car that indeed had the top down, both their all-black-everything outfits finishing off a portrait of edgy, alternative bliss. This was what won me over.

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