A long, long time ago, back when I was 16, my friends and I had a rather bizarre and overly superstitious year. I'm not going to get into all of that here (although maybe when I finish writing The Inhumane Society I'll get back to writing The WD-40 story, which would address that year of my life in great detail), but for now I want to talk about one phrase: no physical harm. This phrase, more so than any of the other weirdness that came from that year, has stuck with me. Just ask anyone who has known me since then; I say it all the time. But what does it mean?
When I was a tenth grader, my friends and I could be rather catty. (What tenth grade girl isn't?) There was a girl that our group didn't like (I'm pretty sure there was a boy involved). One of my friends (whose house I happen to be renting currently!) was very upset with this particular girl and said something along the lines of, "I hope something really, really, really bad happens to her! Well, no physical harm." - and that afternoon the girl in question totaled her car. But she was fine.
From that point on, anytime we said anything pertaining to death or harm or danger, or did anything potentially dangerous, we would say 'no physical harm.' "Aaack! This test is going to kill me. No physical harm." "What an asshole. I could seriously kill him. No physical harm." In an airplane getting ready to take off? No physical harm! In a van passing uphill on a blind curve in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan? No physical harm! In a marshrutka on the way to Chernobyl? No physical harm! You get the picture. On facebook, this often appears as 'NPH!' tacked on to the end of posts and comments. (This of course leads to the occasional Neil Patrick Harris joke, because what else could NPH mean?)
I've wanted to get a tattoo of something since 1997. Luckily, I'm not one of those people who rushes into things, because had I gotten any of the designs I was mulling over tattooed on myself way back then, I would've ended up taking a hot iron to my body for the purpose of burning that shit off within the year. I've had lots of ideas for tattoos over the years, although none has ever really stuck. Some I simply grew out of. Other designs ended up reminding me of things I'd rather forget. Then, this past January, I had a bit of an epiphany: I would get no physical harm tattooed on myself somewhere!
Unfortunately, I was in Korea at the time. You can definitely get tattoos in Korea, although finding a reputable, quality tattoo parlor is a bit of a challenge. In Korea, tattoos are still, for the most part, seen as something sported by gangsters and criminals. There are certainly young punks and hipsters who have started to sport the odd tat here and there, but it's really not all that common. I looked online and found a couple of websites for tattoo parlors in both English and Korean, but when I say "a couple" I mean two. In a city of 18 million people. Not exactly confidence boosting - and I didn't want to end up with a Konglish rendition of my catch phrase permanently embedded on my body. So I decided to wait.
In the small southern town where I lived from March through July of this year, there are a couple of tattoo parlors... but nothing to particularly inspire confidence. If you're going to have something permanently etched into your skin, it should be done by someone who exudes confidence - and has evidence to back up his or her skill, you know? I asked friends with tattoos, and got recommendations for tattoo artists in Tallahassee and Sarasota and Savannah, but I never felt like making the drive. Then I moved to Orlando. I swear there's a tattoo parlor on every single block down here. But again - I needed to know where I could go to get a quality tattoo. Then a friend of mine from the small southern town recommended the place where he had just gotten a tattoo - and yes, he had driven all the way down to Orlando to get it: Ascension Tattoo.
I spent a lot of time over the past few months perusing their website. After totally rocking my midterms - and having a few days to rest and relax before throwing myself into the swing of studying once more - I decided it was time: