Probably the second-best thing I did in 2016 was get my first tattoo (shouts out to my wife).

I say “first” tattoo because, though I have no specific plans for one at the moment, I know that I am going to get another one at some point in the future. There are few things in life that more completely deliver on the promise of instant-cool quite like getting a tattoo (I’d argue that smoking cigarettes delivers, but only from ages 16-22 before those particular returns diminish). I’m not saying that getting a tattoo will automatically make a person a cool swingin’ dick, but the act of getting one, the feeling of having it done, boy does that feel cool. I still sometimes look down at my ink and think to myself, “Damn, you’re a cold son of a bitch.”

There is no difference in faking confidence and actual confidence. You should get a tattoo.

Anyway; a second tattoo. I will get one, someday. I do not know what it will be, but I can be certain of what it will not be.

See, it may have taken me 30 years to finally bite the bullet and follow through on an image, but I’ve spent more than half my life imagining what my tattoo would eventually be. Right around the time I started listening to punk music in earnest, I knew I wanted to get something done and brother, let me tell you: All of my tattoo ideas were patently terrible. I thank the Lord every day that I was the kind of suburban loser who turned his misery inward rather than rebelling, because had I gone full “Killing in the Name Of” with my teenage angst, It’d look like a middle school kid’s algebra notebook right now.

Here are some of the terrible tattoo ideas I’ve had at some point in my life. If you have any of these, I am sorry to report that you have a bad tattoo:

  • The Sacred Heart, on my chest, over my own heart – The perfect image for a teen boy deeply into both his Catholic upbringing and the music of Flogging Molly
  • Two big honkin’ X marks, on the backs of my hands – I had this idea in 2002. I was basically proto CM Punk
  • Stigmata, on the backs of my hands – I am not kidding about the Catholic upbringing thing. I was deep into it for a good long while
  • The city skyline of Rochester, New York, on fire, along my leg – I stole this idea from a guy who worked at Tower Records on South Street. I ran into him my first month after moving down here for college and it was like running into 18-year-old me’s idealized future. Tattoos! Working in a Record Store! Hating Rochester! He actually had this tattoo when I met him. Life is weird (Additionally, when I told my wife about the Rochester skyline tattoo, her response was “What skyline? Are you just going to get two rectangles tattooed on you?” She’s a jerk).
  • Lyrics from this Lawrence Arms song, somewhere on my chest – Song holds up, though
  • A big anchor, on my back – Heavily in my Modest Mouse phase for this one
  • Arrows, on my arms – Stole this idea from a mystery series
  • An ex-girlfriend’s name, on my foot – We were going to be together forever!