I Accidentally Gave Myself A Bad Tattoo

As a child, I was scared of bad tattoos. I feared what’d happen if I regretted the design or content or location. I couldn’t understand leaving on my body a permanent, physical reminder of my stupidity on purpose, which is why now, as an adult, I gave myself a permanent, physical reminder of my stupidity accidentally.

121519 tattoo

Monday morning was my last day of classes before finals. I was rushing to print 36 pages (30 single-spaced, 6 double-spaced) for part one of year-long thesis course. The assignment wasn’t due until Thursday, but I’m lazy so I wanted to turn it all in at once. (Apparently the trick to getting things done is to out-lazy your lazy, i.e. finishing something just because you don’t feel like making an extra 15-minute walk to campus a few days later. Who knew?)

My printer, however, had other ideas. Halfway through the first page, the words started fading. The machine had run out of ink. I cancelled the job and removed the ink cartridge.


When my printer ink runs out, I don’t just buy a new cartridge. I was raised right, and by that I mean unlike sensible people. Instead, I take my mom’s ink refilling kit and use a syringe, filled with black printer ink from the bottle, to INJECT the cartridge sponge. (The way I print in color is to not.)


Like usual, I removed the syringe from its cap. Or, I tried to. It was stuck.

It was 9:03. My last class of the semester was at 9:30, and my roommate was waiting for me to walk to campus. With a growing panic, I yanked harder.

The syringe shot out immediately, and in the recoil, stabbed my left index finger. A jet of black ink shot out from the syringe and directly into my bloodstream, or so I imagine.


I ran to the sink but it was too late in all senses. Roommate was still waiting, and I hurried out the door, showing her my bad tattoo as explanation for why I’d taken so long. I told her I was printing out the assignment for my thesis class, which she was also taking.

Roommate: Wait, but you turn that in online.


Roommate: Maybe the ink will fade?

A week later.

If anyone ever asks how I stay humble—provided I ever accomplish anything—I’m just going to give them the finger. This finger.

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