Tales From Journalism School: The Tattoo.

by Amber on October 14, 2011

If you went to college, chances are you waited too long to do a paper or two (hundred). Maybe you even had to pull an all-nighter on occasion. But did you ever have to mutilate your body just to make the grade?

I did.

I was taking a feature writing class, which was ostensibly designed to teach us how to write for magazines. In reality, though, the professor spent most of his time telling us that we’d never get magazine jobs. In fact, he told us that we should just give up and go get English Literature degrees instead.

I wanted badly to impress this man. To prove to him that I was good enough to write for any publication I pleased, thankyouverymuch.

So when it came time to write an essay about a personal experience, I was stumped. As far as I could tell, nothing I’d done in my quiet little life would seem newsworthy to him.

I considered bungee jumping, skydiving…even hitchhiking to Canada. But none of those seemed right. I had less than 24 hours to go when inspiration finally struck.

Before I knew it, I was in my car, heading to an address in Pontiac. I told no one where I was going, what I was doing, or why.

I felt very rebellious.

Still, when I arrived at my destination and saw the long-haired, tatt-covered metalhead who manned the front desk, I almost turned tail and ran. But I pictured my blank computer screen, took a deep breath and walked in.

“Hi. I’d like to get a tattoo, please.”

He took in my fresh-faced, trying-for-grunge-and-failing exterior and raised an eyebrow.

“Really. Oooookay. What did you have in mind?”

I told him, and before long, I was trying not to hyperventilate as a stranger swabbed alcohol on my back. Then he put a cool hand on my shoulder and said, “You ready?”

I nodded silently, not trusting my voice.

“Okay, just raise your hand if you need a break.” And he fired up the tattoo gun.

At first it wasn’t too bad. Just a mild pinching. Then my nerve endings realized what was going on. Suddenly, it felt as if an army angry bees had landed on my back hell-bent on revenge. It was all I could do to keep from hollering, “stop!”

But I pictured my empty computer screen and stayed quiet.

After an eternity (or, you know, 20 minutes), it was over. Winnie the Pooh had taken up residence on my back.

Back home, I fired off what I thought was a genius essay in the wee hours of the morning. One worthy of Rolling Stone—or at least an A.

Instead, I got a B minus. He said it didn’t feel authentic. Asshole.

But, oh well.  It was the 90s. It could have been worse. At least I didn’t get a tramp stamp.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl @ Mommypants October 14, 2011 at 6:16 pm

HA! Not authentic? What a self-important prick!

Funny, tho, that you got Winnie the Pooh. It’s like rebellion light! ;)

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Amber October 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Yeah. Rebellion was never really my thing. My brother had that one covered.

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Karen Peterson October 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I can think of a tattoo that teacher should have on his forehead!

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Amber October 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

SNort. Well, I showed him…went and became a copywriter, and now I can get my work published in any magazine…as long as our media buyer purchases space!

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lolamouse October 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Winnie the Pooh! I love it! It’s amazing what we will do for a grade when we are young and stupid, huh? I can think of worse things though!

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Amber October 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

It was a good excuse. I kinda wanted them anyway, but I needed something to make me brave enough!

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Galit Breen October 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Atta girl- *anything* for the written word!

Hee! Just kidding! I love that you went out an did this and the way you wrote the story is perfect- funny, relatable.

(Sorry about the B-.)

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Amber October 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Ahhh well. Couldn’t 4. them all. He did ruin my GPA that semester though…

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andi October 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I listened to the self-important prick, left my Creative Writing degree behind and earned the so-much-easier English Lit Degree. No blowhards to impress in English Lit.

I’m now kicking myself in the ass as I apply for a reporter job at a local paper. Its about time I get paid to write!! Too bad I am entirely capable but severely underqualified. . . .

Pooh, huh? Does your husband ever tell you that you have a little bit of Poo on your back? When your daughter had a blow out as a baby did he ever say you had poo all over you – front and back? I would use the Poo thing all the time. . just to get to say poo a few more times a day. . . .

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Amber October 19, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Ya know, he actually doesn’t, surprisingly enough. I’ll bet he will now though…. ;)

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A Mother's Thoughts October 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Way too many people have the tramp stamp. Lol what did you tat, represent?

Lynn

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