Thank You, Mr. Zebraby Brea Weinreb on Sep, 26 2012
Although I’ve only been in Berkeley for five weeks, I have already experienced my fair share of weirdness. From the unidentifiable man arbitrarily yelling “Ishmael!” in Sproul Plaza to the students with rainbow-colored hair, Berkeley is proud to let its freak flag fly. I was particularly intrigued by an unnamed student in the Golden Bear Café last week, who looked completely normal aside from the black and white panda tattooed on his bicep. The panda had stubby arms and legs that were disproportionate to its enlarged head, and was tattooed boldly across the student’s muscle. This took the cake as the weirdest tattoo I have seen to date; although I was later informed that there has been much, much worse. With this in mind, I ventured down Telegraph to Zebra Tattoo Parlor to discover some of the worst, and most permanent, mistakes Berkeley hipsters have made. The results are not pretty- I suggest you sit down for this.
The first story told by Kellan, a tattoo assistant at Zebra, involves a woman, who, like Panda Boy, looked to be your average 20-year-old. She came in to Zebra, never having been tattooed before, and requested a dolphin cresting out of the water to be branded on her lower back. The tattoo was not complete, however, until the phrase “Tea Bag” was tattooed underneath the aquatic image. Yes, I mean that meaning of tea bag, perhaps too inappropriate to be explained, although I’m sure Urban Dictionary is more than happy to supply the meaning for you lovely readers. The woman, who no longer appeared to be an innocent 20-year-old, claimed it was her nickname in college, and the tattoo artist continued with no further questions.
The next story Kellan had to tell was more comical and slightly less repulsive. One of the Zebra tattoo artists decided to tattoo an image of nose boogers on the underside of his middle finger, thinking it would create the illusion of snot anytime he picked his nose. Sadly (keep in mind sadly is used in the most sarcastic tone possible), the natural shedding of skin on the underside of his fingers caused the tattoo to literally fall off with his skin cells. The artist decided to mourn the loss of his snot-infested tattoo by getting another tattoo. This time it was on his thigh, and the image was that of a finger with an identical booger tattoo on it, and underneath read the words “Rest in Peace”. I guess that’s one way to pay homage to the deceased….
Upon telling me this last story, which had me itching for a tissue, another tattoo artist came in to contribute to the conversation. A few years back he had proclaimed he would do a free tattoo for anyone who came in to Zebra within the next hour, under the condition that he got to pick the tattoo design. What the artist characterized as a “punk from the street” stumbled in to Zebra and took the artist up on his offer, making what was perhaps the biggest mistake of his life. The artist decided to tattoo the lovely phrase “I love pussy” on this boy’s arm, sized strategically so that when he wore short sleeves the only visible part of the tattoo was the word “pussy”, written in oversized, bright letters. Now there’s something to show your grandparents!
This trip to Zebra left my skin itching, and my previous desire of taking advantage of my status as a liberated 18-year-old and getting a tattoo completely disappeared, replaced with the fear of becoming one of these horror stories. It might not be my idea of a good time, but as Kellan put it, to each his own.