Hey, check out my fish

People these days just aren’t making enough snap judgments about me, so I’ve been thinking it’s probably time I get a tattoo.

I shouldn’t assume everybody does that. I mean, sure, I do. I’ll see a guy with long hair working at Whole Foods with a tattoo of a dolphin behind his ear next to giant ear spears and think, “That hippie loves dolphins, is probably a vegan and lives in a van made out of recycled Sprite cans.” Or, I’ll see a burly, bald guy with a tattoo of a skull atop a snake coiling a sword and think, “I’m certain that guy has been to prison, likely for manslaughter. He will not be my friend.” Then he catches me staring as I think all that and, not knowing what to do, I’ll wink. Then it becomes a whole THING.

But, still, I sorta want one. I just turned 32 and I think the statute of limitations on your parents grounding you for getting one just ran out. The problem is, I’ve never been a big fan of them (on me). I don’t even like bumper stickers. But people have asked me time and again, “Kelly, you’re a renegade that has no time for the law, a righteous bandit with a nose for trouble, killer instinct and live by a warrior’s code, so why don’t you have a tattoo?”

I aggressively rev the Harley I’m on, extend the kickstand with my leather boot, lower my sunglasses and say, “What’d you say?! This thing is really loud!” Also, “How did I get on a motorcycle?” before riding off on a camel because this is obviously a dream.

But the truth is, I could never make a decision I know I’d be satisfied with. After all, I get buyer’s remorse at LUNCH. I don’t know a lot about tattoos, but I’m pretty sure you don’t get to change your mind afterward.

Slade (tattoo artists always have cool names): “There. All done. Wolverine battling a transformer on Mars.”

Me: “Yeah I think I’ve changed my mind. I should’ve gone with Chuck Norris vs. a donkey in Wolfgang Puck’s kitchen.”

Slade “Um”

Me: “What, do you need some whiteout? Is this like an Etch A Sketch? Here, let me shake myself and you can start over.”

To give my theory that people will treat me differently (shirk away in fear) a test I got a temporary tattoo out of a vending machine. Unfortunately, all it had were tattoos of different types of fish. I think I got a sea bass (fitting, as the bass is the baDDest fish in the ocean, provided they live there, which they might not. Us tattooed guys don’t have time for encyclopedias or whatnot). I wanted it visible, so I put it on my neck. I ventured to a “biker bar”, which, surprisingly, consisted of motorcycles instead of bicycles. I suppose that made sense.

I strode up to the bar and looked at the bartender, arching my neck so he got a good look at my new “ink”. Unfortunately he didn’t get the hint to give me a bourbon, and also his wife. What was a blind guy doing working at a bar? It didn’t make any sense.

“So, what do you think?” I asked the blind bartender, pointing to my new ink.

“I think that’s a fish,” he replied. “And part of it is coming off.”

I felt around and, indeed, some of it was peeling.

“Look, buddy, I said, backing up. I don’t want any trouble.” Then I got outta there before chairs began flying and somebody put on a pair of brass knuckles. I watch a lot of movies.

When attempting to make the decision on tattoos, there are several factors one must consider.


For men, apparently bigger is better (appropriate).

“Well, sure,” I say. “If you’re going to make a mistake, it’s best to make it big, that way it’s really noticeable.”


My problem is, I’d never want to get something serious. My idea of a perfect tattoo would be Ghandi, Superman and Indiana Jones high-fiving atop a Triceratops climbing a volcano where, inside, is Spock mind-melding Frodo with Darth Vader looking on. Or maybe a sailboat. I like boats.


Like expectant mother parking spaces and the E! network, the lower back seems to be reserved for women only, which is unfortunate because I have a very alluring upper buttocks region. Though I’ve always found this placement odd; you can never see it but you know it’s always there (kinda like Jesus, so maybe there is a religious implications at work here).

One option seems to be the chest. I’m considering getting a tattoo of a polo shirt so I can sleep in later in the morning to avoid the 20 minutes it takes me to make a decision.

Another option is the back, but I could never do that because I’d constantly be worried it’s spelled wrong and have to double-check, resulting in looking like a cat trying to catch its tail. I get dizzy easily, so I’d probably black out a lot.

The bicep region is popular for tattoos like barbed wire, which apparently says “Hey, man, this little area here is OFF LIMITS.” I guess bicep tattoos are like the Guantanamo Bay of the arms.

Still undecided about the whole thing, I decided to write a pro and con list, though the simple fact that I had to do this makes me think I’m probably not the “tattoo” kind of guy.


Can show world affinity for: dinosaurs, birds, anchors, skulls, America, etc. without having to actually TALK to someone

Great idea to remember Internet passwords

If getting tattoo of human or creature, can make talk/dance/fly by flexing muscle

Probably free drinks and access to VIP rooms everywhere and someone probably just walks up and gives you a motorcycle


Easier to identify in case the fuzz (renegade-speak for “police”) starts sniffing around for suspects

Likely mobbed by ladies CONSTANTLY

With the pros so easily outweighing the cons, it’s hard to come up with a reason NOT to do it. The question is, what?

Maybe I’ll get a fish.

Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at vandkel@hotmail.com or via wherever tough, tattooed people are (Bon Jovi concerts?). Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny to offer suggestions on tattoos.