Now don’t get me wrong. I’ll ink anyone who comes into my parlor, and I’ll do it with a smile. I’m a professional.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about some of the shit that people want permanently etched on their bodies. My guiding principle–and I think it’s a good one–is that whatever you get inked should be extremely personal and meaningful. Now there’s a big difference between what people think is personal and meaningful and what actually is.

People come in all the time wanting Chinese or Japanese or even Hindi symbols, which they can’t read, inked on. How something like that can be meaningful is anyone’s guess. Rodney on 5th sometimes has a little fun by giving people the wrong symbols (one bad tipper got “insane” instead of “spontaneous”). And then there are the people who want song lyrics on their backs or cartoon characters on their biceps. I’ll take their point if they say it was the song playing when they met their husband or something, but otherwise I have to wander how something someone else came up with can possibly mean enough to pass muster. I don’t care if you want a flaming skull exploding out of a snake’s mouth wrapped around your arm; it better mean something and not just be your attempt to look like a badass.

I’m always happy to ink the names of peoples’ kids, or their parents. But that’s never been as popular as the lyrics from some shitty 90’s emo band.

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