Chris Johnson: If you hear 'Jaws' music, it may be my right leg

January 5, 2014 

In the late 1980s, the three guys on my senior trip to Panama City Beach had a revelation. We discovered what was lacking in our lives. We knew the one thing that would change our lives and bring peace and harmony to the universe:


A couple of phone calls to local establishments later, we had yet another revelation -- getting tattoos was going to seriously cut into our beer money. And we couldn't do that because it was beer, after all, that had led us to the previous revelation.

Probably a good thing we didn't go through with it then because we weren't in the right frame of mind to walk down the sidewalk, much less select the right tattoo. I could have come back with Scooby-Doo on my forehead. Ruh-roh!

Still, I regretted never getting a little ink. Not that I wanted to look like Birdman from the Miami Heat or have a face like Mike Tyson's, but a little skin art would have been cool. It'd just be a little story to tell and nothing that would limit my job prospects or make my conservative family members have a heart attack.

Somehow I managed to survive more than 43 years without a tattoo. I likely could have survived another 43 without one. That point is now moot. No, I'm not dead already. I've finally gotten inked.

This does not contradict my main rule on tattoos -- that only ugly people should get tattoos. I mean, have you seen me lately? I think if you're a beautiful person, you should not get tattoos. Don't mess up a good thing. But with me, eh, how much worse can it get?

So no one would be shocked, I announced my plan to get inked the day before on Facebook, drawing a mix of "don't do it" and "go for it." I think some of the folks against it were against it for religious reasons as the Bible book of Leviticus clearly bans tattoos -- along with banning cutting your hair on the sides, mixing different kinds of threads in your clothes, eating shrimp and bowling while wearing sneakers.

The tattoo was a gift from my wife, who got a tattoo in Vegas a year before she met me. I'm not sure whether she wanted me to get inked or merely feel the pain of the needles going into my skin. But it didn't feel anything like needles to me. It merely felt

like someone heated up a switchblade knife and carved up my lower right leg just above my ankle.

I chose the design of a shark fin amid ocean waves. Why? If you're looking for deep symbolism, I'm afraid I'm about as deep as a thimble. I think sharks are cool. I love the ocean and the beach. It's kind of Jimmy Buffett-esque. And -- most importantly -- it was small and simple enough to cost just $40.

Before we went to the tattoo parlor, I sent my wife a design for my tattoo that I asked her to print out. I wanted to merely hand it to the guy and say, "I want this." Unfortunately, she complicated matters by altering my design with words beneath it: "My wife, Shellie, is the love of my life." She meant it as a joke … kinda. And, no, I didn't not tattoo those words on my leg.

I'm firmly against getting names tattooed onto my body as it is forbidden in Bruticus 23:11. What if she finally discovers that I am the most boring man in America and dumps me for, say, the second-most boring man in America? Then I'd only be able to date women named Shellie for the rest of my life.

Besides -- and most importantly -- all that writing would have cost way more than $40.

Connect with Chris Johnson at

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