My father has many wonderful qualities (for example, he’s said on multiple occasions that despite his devout faith in Christianity, he would not hesitate to kill an angel if given the opportunity), but making money simply isn’t one of them. To pay the bills, he used to dress up in a bootleg Red Robin mascot costume and let people fight him for cash in the restaurant’s parking lot. Unfortunately, Red Robin’s legal team got involved and wanted a percentage of my father’s earnings. Eventually, they asked him to start throwing fights, but my father had too much respect for the sport to do so, and thus retired from barefisted boxing in the Red Robin parking lot.

After that, the money got tight, and an empty wallet won’t get you very far with an angry landlord who treats his calves like canvases and wants his money now. Here are five times we were forced to pay the rent by complimenting our landlord’s awful calf tattoos.

March 2019

Our landlord walked in with his hand outstretched and a plainly visible calf tattoo of Tim Allen playing billiards with Tim Allen. (The second Tim Allen had red glowing eyes though. I’m not sure why, I think he was supposed to be an evil version of Tim Allen or something. Our landlord kept calling him “Dark Tim.”) We had no choice but to compliment the tattoo until our landlord felt our affirmations equaled the monetary value of our rent.

May 2019

Following our stunt two months prior, our landlord was suspicious that we didn’t actually like his calf tattoos and we were just looking for free rent. So when he waltzed in and we started going on and on about how much we loved his tattoos on his left and right inner calves of the Hardy Boys pointing a gun at each other, he just cooly stated, “If you like them so much, let’s go to the tattoo parlor and you can get the same ones.” So we had to oblige.

Honestly, we didn’t even save much money on the rent because the tattoos were so expensive. We had to pay an exorbitant royalty fee to use the Hardy Boys’ likeness, and they didn’t even come out well. Our landlord explained the mental anguish that solving mysteries likely puts on the brothers, as they will never feel truly fulfilled; they are driven by a blind desire to continue to solve cases and are imprisoned by their ambition. He insisted the artist depict this pain in our tattoos’ eyes and looking at my calves just makes me sad now.

June 2019

I don’t think our landlord even really wanted the rent money this time, he was just fishing for compliments. He came in and immediately started talking about how sad he was because he failed the Fuddrucker’s 3-Pound Burger Challenge (eat a 3-pound burger and a pound of fries in under an hour) in front of his wife and kids and now they don’t respect him anymore. “I guess some guys have it all,” he told us. “A wife and kids who look up to him AND the ability to eat 4 pounds of greasy food in under an hour. All I have is this stupid calf tattoo that says ‘SeaWorld Did Nothing Wrong…’”

My father and I really didn’t feel comfortable complimenting a tattoo that expressed such a sentiment, but we didn’t have the money for rent, so we had no choice but to tell him how much we loved the tattoo and how smart he was for getting it.

August 2019

This was probably the most humiliating one. As a power move, our landlord sauntered into our apartment with a tattoo that depicted my father and I begging him not to throw us out on the street. He told us, “The funny thing about this tattoo is it predicts the future.” And then we proved him right by begging him not to kick us out and telling him how positively baller his new ink was.

His display of dominance was somewhat undercut by the fact that the tattoo was clearly infected. To be honest, I used the phrase “sauntered” to describe how he entered, but in reality, it was more of a hobble because he was on crutches due to the severity of the infection.

November 2019

At this point, the calf tattoos were very obviously killing our landlord. The infection appeared to have spread to his brain because he didn’t seem like he really knew where he was. Still, we smiled and told him that his fresh (also infected) new tattoo of Julius Pringles going down on the Statue of Liberty, who is hitting a THC vape, looked incredible. He didn’t seem to know what we were talking about, but he did wander out of our apartment without collecting any money after about 20 minutes.