Farm Raised Tattoos

This post is part of an archive.  To read the current version, we recommend  “Taboo Tattoos”

Some people are just a little different. They are college professors, people who own lizards, driving instructors, and folks from Dakota Territory. One such Dakota product was a hard-bitten dairy farmer who lived near my high school.

He had a habit of quoting himself with all the pomp of Shakespeare, “All the work we do in life amounts to one thing…moving stuff. Regardless of the size, distance, or complexity all we do is move stuff. Think about it.”

This man and his family refused to own a television. He equated it with “running an open sewer pipe directly into his living room” and it was hard to argue with him. After the evening meal, they would sit around their spacious living room of driftwood lamps, burnt orange afghans, and plether furniture digging through a box of conversational questions.

“Alright Matt we’ll start with you.” He drew the first card and took on a parental tone. “If you had to get a tattoo (and I would break your arm if you did) what would it be?”

This is an idea I’d floated across my thinking before and I was ready with an answer. “I would get two red, evil eyes tattooed to the back of my head. With my buzzed hair, you would only be able to see them only if you were standing directly behind me. And if I decided I didn’t care for the look anymore, I would simply grow my hair out a bit.

“Cool, huh?”

Not waiting for the other young males in the room to murmur their agreement, the young lady beside me chimed in, “I’d want a tattoo that was small and tasteful.”

The farmer and I quickly exchanged looks. Both of us were confused by the obvious contradiction in her statement.

She continued. “Um, I would probably just put my name in decorative lettering across my shoulder or ankle.”

“Isn’t that a little like taking a permanent marker and writing ‘banana’ across your bananas or branding Fido across your hairless chihuahua’s backside? I mean what fun is it to get a personalized license plate and then put BOB 1 across it?” I was trying to be funny but it came out a bit harsh.

She took offence, “Well Matt, just because you’re a weirdo doesn’t mean I have to be. I mean eyes in the back of your head. How dumb is that?”

Another boy sitting to my right said, “Oh mine is worse. I’m planning on having a tight rope drawn between the nipples on my chest. Then I’ll have a stick man put on tight roping across. That’s cooler right?”

A mixture of grunts and uncomfortable chuckles indicated weak approval.

“Yea that’s neat until you get old and the rope loses a little tension.”

The farmer suppressed a smile and rubbed the side of his temple. “You know, a tattoo is like dental work or a hip replacement. It’s an investment that depreciates one hundred percent in the first minute and has absolutely no resale value. Only the tattoo doesn’t improve your quality of life. The only thing it really proves is you aren’t smart enough to move when someone keeps sticking you with a needle.”


This post is part of an archive.  To read the current version, we recommend “DodoEgg Plant.”

There’s something about lists that appeals to people. It’s a soft spot or a faulty connection built into the human brain. It really doesn’t matter what the subject is if it’s a ranked list you’ll stop and look. In an effort to prove my point, here’s the top 10 MOST IMPORTANT VEGTIABLES!

  1. Potato (From fried, to mashed, to baked, if a big bowl isn’t present at most meals you’ll hear about it.)
  2. Tomato (While technically a fruit, it knew it couldn’t compete with oranges and strawberries so it switched leagues. Its misguided forays into juice are well documented.)
  3. Onions (While off limits while you’re dating, this is one of the perks of getting married and not caring anymore.)
  4. Corn (A vegetable still pissed about the fact that candy corn tastes like wax.)
  5. Peppers, Green or Otherwise (Like a Latino gang, most seem mild but eventually you will mess with the wrong one.)
  6. Beans (The entire bean family has filed a libel suit against school kids for a reputation marred by flatulent comments and mean-spirited nursery rhymes.)
  7. Lettuce (It’s big secret is that it has almost no nutritional value. Covering it in ranch is paramount to a diet soda and large fries.)
  8. Carrots (Too bad Bugs Bunny only votes once.)
  9. Celery (Famous for burning more calories than it provides, which means the partially hydrogenated peanut butter is OK!)
  10. Broccoli and Cauliflower (Little known fact: only edible when covered in cheese.)
  11. Peas (Wanted to make the top ten but its communal, hippy, utopian upbringing bothered the judges.)
  12. Spinach (Rumor that it causes severe swelling in forearms is untrue.)
  13. Asparagus (Voted MVP of the all-vegetable basketball league. Less successful on people’s plates.)
  14. Radishes (Death wish with a root.)

Trading Dodo eggs for Arms

This post is part of an archive.  To read the current version, we recommend “Armed with Dodo Eggs.”

A day earlier, I found a picture of some hip-hop performers on the hallway floor. It had a black back ground with gold lettering set in front of a bouquet of one hundred dollar bills. The performers (artists might be a bit of a stretch) stood in intimidating poses with long T-shirts that if tapered in the middle or accessorized with a wide belt would look more like miniskirt dresses.

“Do you see what these guys are doing?” I asked another teacher. “Take a hard look at what they are doing with their arms. Do you see it?”

The teacher gave the tattered magazine page a hard look. “This must have fallen out of someone’s locker.”

I tried again. “No, I mean do you see what those clowns are doing to their arms?”

She squinted at the middle performer. “You mean the tattoo? I think it says, ‘Lil’Big’n.”

“What I’m trying to show you is that the guys have their arms crossed and their pushing their biceps wide with the back of their fists.” I pointed to the picture. “Do you see it?”

“No, I thought they had just big muscles.”

I snatched the photo and made my gesticulations (that’s right, I’m not afraid to use the word) much stronger. “That’s an old trick we used to use in high school. Pushing the backside of your arms flattens them and makes them look larger! This works on you?”

She took a step backward and I realized that my surprise was coming off as a little abrasive.

“I’m sorry, let me fill you in on important information regarding men and crossing their arms. One, if a guy is at the pool and he’s crossing his arms he’s self-conscious about his man-boobs or this extra flab. Two, if a guy has his arms crossed and is walking; he is posing like a peacock with feathers in full show. No one walks with his arms crossed. And three, if you’re a rap guy it means, ‘I couldn’t letter with my high school band but your still buy’n my album, sucka.”

Good Egg or Bad Egg?

This post is part of an archive.  To read the current version, we recommend  “Dodo Egg or Chicken Poop.”

Let’s play a game. I am offering you two stories. One is mostly truth and the other is thick with lies (er…embellishments). Your job is to pick the dodo egg from the fond memory.

Egg #1…

A well-run ranch needs many strong calloused hands to function properly. Sometimes these hands need to be hired out and when these run out they hire silk-palmed, won’t-touch-a-bug pansies like me.

The season had come to dock (remove the tails) and castrate the lambs. My job was to chase down each lucky animal and hold it while the necessary removals were completed. Tails were simply snipped and the testes were bound by a thick rubber band, which cut off circulation.

One of the hired hands brought his boy with him a young man of only seven years. He hung from the gate nearest his father with hands over the top and his boots through one of the gate’s iron crossbars. The boy’s blue eyes widened then squinted with imagined pain following each successive operation.

“Dad what are you doing to the sheep’s unders?”

His father’s eyebrow raised a bit while he conjured a G rated response. “Well, we’re removing their tonsils. The rubber band cuts of blood, the tonsils die, and they just fall off.”

I smiled enjoying the man’s efforts to protect his son’s innocence and cowardly way he went about it. It was later that I heard the rest of the story. Apparently the boy developed tonsillitis only a few weeks later and when the doctor told him his tonsils would need to be removed…well…the scene involved several hasty explanations and a lot of lollipops.

Egg #2…

It was a perfect day with sunshine warming my skin coupled with a cool breeze heavy with the smell of freshly cut grass. I was sitting in a plastic lawn chair with a wicker basket wedged between my legs. Little children darted around snatching colorful Easter eggs peeking up from the shallow grass. The only wrinkle was the colorblind boy who kept grabbing droppings left from the neighbor’s huge mastiff, pulling his hand away in horror, and then crying for his mother.

My wife leaned over and whispered into my ear. “Maybe being colorblind isn’t the only issue.”

I pulled another egg from my son’s basket. It popped open with just a small squeeze along the seam. “Oh, good a chocolate bar. That’s better than some of the other junk I’ve been forced to eat today.” I closed the emptied egg and placed it on one side of the basket along with the other inspected eggs.

“Would you stop eating your son’s candy?”

“I’m teaching him to share. You keep saying that’s important.”

The next egg wasn’t as good. It was five jelly beans; three of them were licorice flavored. Those black poison pills masqueraded as candy but I knew better. I began pitching them aside.

“That’s it.” She took the basket and marched after our little boy.

The grandfather sitting nearby chucked a bit. “Son, I’ll give you a dollar if you throw that last jellybean at your wife.”

I took him up on it. I wasn’t aiming at anything in particular; it was just a haphazard toss. Her striped shirt had slightly pulled away from her jeans, which offered the thinnest of midriffs. The bean arched perfectly and landed along the small of her back then disappeared down her pants. She stopped instantly and stiffened.

I turned slowly toward the old man with a smug look hanging on my face.

“Here’s your dollar son. I hope it was worth it.”

So, which is nine parts truth? I’ll tell you later.

Laying A Dodo Egg

This post is part of an archive.  To read the current version, we recommend  “Laying Dodo Eggs.”

My college education forced me to write an avalanche of papers all pertaining to theory and rarely facts. I was asked to fill papers on subjects with the same consistency of clouds. I’m exaggerating here, but subjects like, “Sniffing salt and its effect on low income students” or “Fireproofing your ceiling, Great lesson introductions using real fireworks!” were commonplace.

In an effort to give our thinly structured ideas some sense of respectability, professors required sources. A quote from any published nobody would more than suffice. Unfortunately, I wrote papers at one o’clock in the morning in the year 3 BI (before internet) and our college library was closed. (From 12:00 to 5:00 is EXACTLY when college libraries should be open! Off set the costs by closing from 5:00 Friday afternoon to 5:00 Sunday afternoon.) I tried using the sports magazines in my room but was only able to use the article on athlete’s salaries in my lessons on scientific notation.

That’s when I made an important discovery…Dodo Eggs. They were sitting in the back of my brain the entire time! Books I’d read in previous lives housed by Buddhist monks living in the Andes Mountains of Uganda and carefully protected by the Irish royal family. I knew quite a few authors with reasonable sounding names. In fact, I could recall entire passages from their groundbreaking research done at the University of Somalia.

I initially feared that my professor’s had never read any of these sources but as it turns out…they had! My papers flew through with nary a B. Since that time, Dodo Eggs has symbolized any of my ideas that are presented with earnestness and filled with…