When I was in my early twenties, I started thinking about getting a tattoo. I had no idea what I wanted to commit to having on my body for the rest of my life, though, so I’m 41 and still don’t have any tattoos.

I thought that getting tattoos when I was in my 40s was maybe too late, so I asked a bunch of my friends who are heavily-tattooed if it was weird to start now, and they all told me that it was the perfect time to start, because I’d save myself the unfortunate experience of having that tattoo you get when you’re 20.

So I spend lots of time thinking about what I’m going to have inked on me (that’s what the kids call it, I heard from the TV box), where I’m going to have it done, and other related matters. This has given me a heightened sense of tattoo radar — tattoodar, if you will — so I’ve been noticing lots of tattoos on people that I probably never would have seen before.

Today, I walked past a guy who had a really cool Klingon Empire tattoo on his forearm. I thought to myself, “I should totally say qapla’ to him!” But before my mouth could form the word, another part of my brain said, “shut up, you fool! He’ll think you’re making fun of him!” I hate it when my brain fights with itself, so I just said, “Dude, that Klingon tattoo is badass.”

He looked up at me and said, “thanks, man!” He took a couple steps away, stopped and turned back to me. He said, “actually, I guess I should say qapla’!”

“Dude!” I exclaimed, “I was totally going to say that, but I didn’t want to be That Guy.”

He pointed at his tattoo and sheepishly said, “well, I’m clearly That Guy, so…”

“Oh no,” my brain shouted, “I made him feel bad!”

Thinking quickly, I gave him the Klingon salute and said, in my gruffest Klingon voice, “Today is a good day to be That Guy.”

He returned the salute with a closed fist and a smile. We went our separate ways, and I thought to myself, “maybe I’ll get myself an original series command insignia tattoo…”




92 thoughts on “majQa’!”

  1. Being a Geek often means second guessing yourself, which is silly, especially when we meet other geeks.

    I had this problem at PAX. I’m surrounded by other gamer geeks, and yet I’m still nervous as heck. Go figure.

  2. I love my tattoos. They’re like my own little journal – each of them means something to me, about where I was at a specific time in my life. Be warned, however, that if you get one somewhere visible (I have one on my foot – yeowch), complete strangers will ask you why you got it and what it means. Also be warned that once you get one, welll…. you’ll almost immediately start planning your next. Right now I’m using my next tattoo as incentive to keep exercising & lose weight. Anyway, YES! Get one! Get a referral for a good artist from one of your tattooed friends, then talk to that artist & make sure you’re on the same page, and enjoy! Yay!

  3. I waited until I was 30 to get my first (and so far only) tattoo. I wanted to get one for a long time, but while I was in college my parents told me they would quit paying for stuff if I got one, and I wasn’t willing to call that bluff. But over time the tattoo I wanted when I was 20 was not the same tattoo I got or wanted later, so I was glad I waited.

    Just over a year ago I lost my sister to a brain tumor. She fought hard during the 8 years she lived with it and tried her best to never let it stop her from enjoying her life. Shortly after she was diagnosed she had “Believe” tattooed on her ankle as a reminder to keep fighting. As a way to remember her, I went and got my own “Believe” tattoo. I let the artist talk me into a bit more and ended up with a beautiful rose to go with it on my shoulder blade. I love it and was glad I did it.

    My advice would be to make sure that whatever you get is something that is important to you, or at least something that every time you see it, you still love it. Make sure to see other work the artist has done, and don’t be afraid to check out multiple artists.

  4. Get the “nine” tattoo that the LOTR’s cast got. Then, the next time you hang with Sean Astin, you can start reminiscing about how much fun the shoot was and he’ll think he’s going crazy for not remembering that you were in it, too.

  5. For future reference, Wil’s brain, when you’re saying something as obscure as saying “qapla’,” you are obviously not going to come off as making fun of the guy. Because by using a word like that, you are identifying yourself as a total nerd, and therefore acknowledging your mutual membership in a particular culture, not mocking his membership. So yeah, qapla’ to your heart’s content.

    As for tattoos, I have the same issue. I just can’t think of anything that I’d be willing to commit to for the long haul. The only thing I could be reasonably certain of not regretting in 10-20 years would be some kind of reference to my kid… but then I’d be “that mom,” y’know? It starts to come off a little obsessive.

    I think I’ll wait until I’m 80. After that, I figure that I probably won’t live long enough to regret whatever I get, so I can just go full double sleeve of flaming skulls, naked women with pointy breasts riding falling bombs, and various images of flags and swords and snakes and whatever else they have in the parlour catalogue.

  6. I don’t think it’s ever too late for a tattoo. My father just got his first, and he just turned 58. The colours in his tattoo are really beautiful, though it looked like it hurt. I got mine the same day, by the same artist. It didn’t hurt as much, but mine isn’t quite as detailed.

    Good luck with figuring out what you want :)

  7. I saw a guy with a Klingon empire tattoo on his upper left arm in Las Vegas for Defcon, and I *DID* say qapla’ to him. I have learned to be ok with my nerdliness.

  8. Tell your stupid brain to shut up (or stab it with a qtip), stop second guessing everything, and just do it already!

    Now that I said that, I must confess I am very careful in my selections and have been known to wait up to a year between designing the artwork and actually getting inked.

  9. I got a Trek tattoo (boldly go, with the insignia in the middle) just under two months ago and I love it. The most important thing is to find a really good tattoo artist– do lots of research and talk to them before actually getting it. It also definitely doesn’t hurt as bad as you might think– it mostly just feels really really weird. It’s also a good idea to hold onto a design you want for a while before getting it.

    (Here are a couple of pictures, for anybody interested– it’s my design and I’m super proud.)

  10. I don’t have any tattoos unless you count the couple of small gray dots in my leg that I got when highly sharpened pencils jabbed me through my book bag when I was in 7th grade. You probably don’t count that (although I suspect they were more painful than modern tattoos so they should count). They remind me of the tattoos that William Hurt’s character in “The Doctor” got without warning or consent and if anyone asks I say they are a tribute to that movie.

  11. I have one tattoo: a set of pixelated targets on each of my sides counting up in binary (from zero of course!) telling me where I should put my insulin pump. Geeky *and* functional!

    Next one is going to be two sets of polyhedral dice with the faces showing my kids’ birthdays (D12 for the month, etc), and each set sitting on a LotR-style map of where they were born. I knew I wanted something both geeky *and* personal, and I wanted a hand in designing it.

  12. I wanted a tattoo that would mean something to me. My father passed away when I was a teenager and I finally figured out the perfect tattoo. It took me a few years to get up the courage to get the tattoo.

    I have vav (father) tattooed on my wrist in pIqaD

  13. I have the bad 20’s tattoo and still decided to get a ridiculously awesome Dragon Age tattoo now that I’m a wiser and more self-aware adult.

    You know how they say ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ well that is pretty much what being inked means. Pick something that reminds you of something you never want to forget, something that you’re unashamedly passionate about or something that’s so important to you that its already written on your heart in indelible ink.

    To most people my chibi Alistair looks cute or silly and its easy to explain that it’s from a game I love but it means more to me than that. In game he has this line, what a rare and wonderful thing you are to find amidst all this darkness, and due to my issues with anxiety and depression I wanted to never forget that. Just seeing my tat makes me smile and remember that my family, my friends and all the geeky thing I’m passionate about, like Dragon Age, are part of my life too.

    So my advice is to do what you’re doing- look. I found mine on Deviant Art and even though it wasn’t a tattoo design, the moment I saw it, I just knew that was what I wanted. I did the mature, responsible thing and waited but since I kept talking about wanting to get it done my husband bought it for me as a gift for our 13th wedding anniversary– making it even more special as we’re currently overseas for his last military deployment.

    Lots and lots of meaning and memories there so I’m not gonna regret it when I’m eighty :)

  14. I didn’t start getting tattoos until I was in my 40s. Find a design/create a design that you love and go for it! I wanted to get a tattoo for many years but nothing really spoke to me… until it did. Something clicked with a design/idea and I went for it. But, like other people have said, tattoos are addictive. You have been warned. :-)

  15. A few years ago, at PAX Prime, I wore a shirt that exposed my appropriately-placed TNG comm badge tattoo. I, nervously, walked up to your booth to get something signed and you said “I like your tattoo!”

    And I was like…be cool, be cool, be cool, you can do this Skyla. You’re a pro.

    And then you said, “Yea I see a few of those, doing cons. I actually think it’s kind of sexy.”

    I almost died.

  16. Hey man – I have an original series Sciences Division insignia on my arm. It’s my only visible tattoo (I also have the word MINE in my wife’s handwriting wreathed in flames on my ass, but that’s another story) and I am very pleased with it.

    Lots of people get Norse runes or kanjii or whatever tattooed, symbols they barely know the meaning of. I know *exactly* what this symbol means. the boys in blue were the guys in the original series who got it done, who figured it out, usually in the nick of time – and who rarely died on away missions. It celebrates science, and the scientific method – and what geek doesn’t love that?

    I love the energy the tattoo gives me, of what it reminds me of on a daily basis. Am I suggesting you get it as a tattoo? Well, you could do worse…

    Peace, and long life.

  17. Late to the party, but figured I’d throw out my tattoo story. I have four, and I’m 38. First one I got when I was 23, the day I graduated from college. It’s Felix the Cat, and it’s on my left calf. Fifteen years later, I got the rest. On my left forearm, I have a Sailor Jerry-esque heart with my wife’s name on it. Right forearm, a star (which, depending, could mean I’m a sailor, a punk, or from Texas). A week or so ago, I got #4: an outline of the state of Oregon inside my left bicep; I was on a long road trip that brought me home, and it was to commemorate. I’m getting another later this week: a pared-down version of album art from Frank Turner, my favorite singer.

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