You may not know it, but my skin is home to some of the most amazing tattoos you've never seen. Unless you've seen me naked; then you've seen them. When I wear shorts or a tank top people compliment me all the time. They think I'm a geek, but I hear a lot of good things.

And before you ask questions, here are the answers:

  • Yes, they hurt.
  • I know they're permanent.
  • I don't regret them at all.
  • Depending on the day and definition of tattoos, I have 9, 10, 11 or 12 tattoos.
  • I was completely sober when I got them. In fact, I spent months or years thinking them up.
  • I still like them.
  • Yes, they're addictive.
  • No, I'm not in a gang dedicated to dinosaurs, Star Wars or robots.
  • For crying out loud, never ever ever tattoo your significant other's name on you. Ever.

Tattoo needle and armBut enough with the short answers. I'm here to give you a little advice on getting your ink done.

I know tattoos aren't for everybody and I'm fine with that. Most of my friends don't have them. It's likely nobody will ever understand or care, but every single one of mine means something to me–even the famous one.

Granted, I could have saved myself a lot of pain, money and public humiliation by internalizing my tattoos' meanings, but I just don't believe in the easy way.

Personally, when I want a new tattoo I think about it. Sometimes I'll draw it on myself. Then I'll make an appointment a month away. If I'm still excited after 30 days, then I know I won't get sick of it.

Trying to piss somebody off with ink is just going to bite you in the ass.Because of my rejected tattoo ideas I'm thankful for forethought. If you think some of my columns are stupid, here are some things I almost tattooed: a haunted tree, Ren & Stimpy, the G.I. Joe and Cobra symbols, a broken chain (for my high school graduation), and various comic book quotes such as "We All Die Alone," "I Hate It Here," and "Me? I'm magic." I still haven't come to a conclusion whether my own autograph is an awesome or shitty ink idea.

Feel free to make up your own rules for getting a tattoo, but I suggest you at least follow these three of mine too (some of which I took from other people).

1. Your first tattoo should be easy to cover up.

If you get a tattoo, I think it's best for that first one to be somewhat hidden. "Never get a tattoo a judge can see," is sound advice from my good buddy Bode.

No matter how meaningful or meaningless, hidden or in broad daylight, people WILL treat you differently when you have tattoos. Some people want to be social with you. Others treat you like the scum of the earth. Strangers will stop you on the street because they think your tattoo is interesting and they want to talk to you. Other people will avoid you. People will judge you no matter what, but having a tattoo gives them a lifelong target. If you don't think you can handle it, dye your hair or wear a wacky t-shirt.

2. Don't get revenge tattoos.

I don't like the idea of getting mad tattoos or revenge tattoos. Trying to piss somebody off with ink is just going to bite you in the ass. I used to bang a girl that tattooed "Freedom" in between her boobs when she was pissed off at her mom's curfew policy in high school. Now, that tattoo was amazing when she had rockin' 18-year-old tits, but when she's old and saggy and gross, "Freedom" is going nowhere but down.

Sure you can get a tattoo removed, but laser treatment is expensive, takes a long time and is allegedly about 10 times more painful than actually getting a tattoo. An ex-Suicide Girl who showed me photos of her skin after being laser beamed; the gore looks like grape jelly and vanilla yogurt.

3. Never get a tattoo related to your current or past relationships.

Let me tell you again, DO NOT get a tattoo that has to do anything with your current or past relationships. Ever. I nearly tattooed a symbol with a girlfriend, only to have that relationship end a month after we almost permanently etched our bodies. It was one of the only good decisions I made in that relationship.

You think post-breakups suck, with the awkward returning of stuff, the uncomfortable chance meetings in public, and general bitterness? Well this only gets worse if you have a tattoo that reminds you every time you look at it what you once had and lost. Some of my ex-girlfriends ruined Led Zeppelin, Army Of Darkness, and the entire state of North Carolina for me. Can you imagine if I let an ex ruin my left bicep?

Go to any tattoo parlor anywhere. Sit down and talk with the artist and ask him how many girlfriend's/boyfriend's names he's tattooed. Then ask him how many he's covered up. Some guys make their livings covering up names, roses, butterflies and other stupid crap.

But I'm sure your relationship is different. You'll solve all your problems with a $75 matching tattoo that means something deep to the both of you.

More personal pet peeves:

  • If you're not Asian, don't get Asian characters.
  • If you're not a POW (Prisoner of War), don't get barbed wire.
  • If you're not on the team, don't get a pro sports mascot.
  • Same vein, if you're not in the band, don't get the band's name or mascot.
  • Don't get nautical symbols (anchors, boats, Sailor Jerry stuff, etc.) if you're not in the Navy or working on a boat/pirate ship.
  • And please, don't copy other people. Especially me.
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Been working on my chainsaw skills.