ONE OF THE GREATEST life lessons I learned from an ancient sage (my bartender) was this: “NEVER allow a stranger to make a major modification of any of your favorite body parts.”
It’s wise advice indeed.
Consider this recent true story, which concerns a Chinese tattooist we shall call Mr Luk, since we don’t know his real name, and a British hairdresser we shall call Lee Becks, since that WAS his real name, amazing though it may seem.
Mr Becks, despite his tough, muscular demeanor, asked to have the Chinese characters for “love, honor and obey” etched permanently onto his arm. Tattooist Mr Luk toiled long over his assignment.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Becks was buying UK-style Chinese “food” at a Chinese takeaway when he noticed his arm was being avidly read by a staff member.
“What a crown,” she said, laughing.
Mr Becks wasn’t sure how to take this. Did she consider him regal, majestic, kingly?
Then he realized she meant “clown” and pressed her to translate his bicep.
She blushed and refused.
Pressed harder, she read it out loud to him: “At the end of the day, this is an ugly boy.”
Mr Becks was not happy.
The following day, he stormed back to the tattoo parlour.
But it and Mr Luk had vanished.
There are two theories about what happened. One says Mr Luk, knowing that his parlour was due to close down, decided to liven up his final evening by playing a trick.
The other says Mr Luk played the prank spontaneously and then realized it would be wise to make a quick exit.
I have a third theory.
What if Mr Luk is a mischievous person who pops up in odd corners of the globe adding mystery messages to the bodies of unsuspecting people?
Perhaps he is writing a novel, line by line, on different individuals, a giant, organic work of literature?
Certainly, Mr Becks’ line sounds like the beginning of a tale.
I was tipped off about this report by reader Paul Fox.
But it actually happens a lot.
Every day of the year, hundreds of tourists go to tattoo shops or shops selling carved stone seals, and have the following conversation.
Tourist: “Can you carve the letters of my name in Chinese?”
What the tattooist THINKS: “Of course not, you idiot, don’t you know that Chinese characters are words, not letters?” But
What the tattooist SAYS: “Of course. That will be US$150.”
What an opportunity! Some tattooists simply write their opinions (like Mr Luk), while others use a chart of characters that look vaguely alphabetic but actually produce lines of gibberish.
Here’s the chart that some of them use.
You can use it to write your own name in fake Chinese.
Paul’s letter prompted me to check the Chinese characters on some seals I bought in Beijing: they turned out to be gibberish.
Today, Mr Becks has been given a life sentence, quite literally. “At the end of the day, this is an ugly boy.”
And I suspect that Mr Luk has popped up somewhere else and is at this moment adding a follow-up line to someone else’s bicep: “Not just ugly, but gullible, too.”
And the third line in Mr Luk’s global organic piece of literature?
I suspect the surface on which it will be written is a tourist strolling into his shop right this moment.
Or perhaps it’s on the seals I bought.
MORE BAD TATTOOS:
A US felon ensured that he would not get a warm welcome from the officers of the law when he had a three word sentence. “F*** THE POLICE” emblazoned across his chest. (See below)
She was a pretty girl in real life. Pity about the tattoo version.
She meant well when she had a section of the Bible (1 Corinthians) tattooed across her upper butt. But someone I doubt if her pastor was amused.
Do NOT try this if your holy book is the Koran.
Incidentally, the Society for the Misplacement of Apostrophe’s will note that this is an example for their lists in the middle of the text.
More tattoos containing mistakes can be found by clicking here.