When I was in college, my first roommate was a guy who had just gotten out of the Navy at age 21. He was a one-of-a-kind and I have many stories about this guy. Here’s one of them.
My roommate had gotten some tattoos when he first entered the Navy, and they were the kind of tattoos an 18-year-old military guy might get — a Tasmanian Devil on one shoulder, a pirate-and-parrot thingy on the other shoulder and on his heart, an image of a heart with “mom” across it.
By the time he turned 22, he was regretting the pirate-and-parrot tattoo. Most people I’ve known who’ve gotten bad tattoos seem to rationalize it later by saying something like, “It reminds me of a time in my life, so I like it for that reason.” My roommate, to his credit, didn’t play such games. He openly said it looked cheesy and he wished he hadn’t gotten it. Tattoo removal was a fairly new thing back then and quite expensive. It didn’t seem like a good option for him.
That is, until he came up with an idea on how he could remove it himself. He figured that since getting the tattoo meant having little holes poked in his skin and ink put in the holes, perhaps he could poke holes in the same spots and get the ink to bleed out. And rather than poke hundreds or thousands of little holes, maybe he could just use a wire-brush drill bit, and a drill, to grind away the top layer of skin on his shoulder, causing the ink to bleed out. The scabs would heal and the tattoo would be gone, he reckoned.
My roommate had a high tolerance for pain — he’d once tried his hand at giving himself a partial circumcision and had to stop not because of the pain but because of massive blood loss. He figured that he could get drunk to numb himself, then I could use the drill bit to erase his tattoo. For some reason, I agreed.
It turned out I didn’t have to do it. I was away for a weekend and he decided that he didn’t want to wait any longer. He bought a bottle of Wild Turkey, drank a bunch of it, boiled the wire-brush drill bit (to sterilize it, he said), washed off his shoulder and sat down to do some grinding.
He didn’t get very far. Apparently the grinding was more painful than expected, not to mention messy, with the wire brush causing blood and skin to spray in all directions. He gave up after a little bit of grinding. When the wound healed, the tattoo looked worse, with a bit of a smudge mark on it. The plan didn’t work out so well.
If I ever find myself needing to drink alcohol to fight pain off, I think I’ll go with Hop 15 from Port Brewing, aka Pizza Port, instead of Wild Turkey.
Hop 15 is a DIPA that has 15 different hops in it, added every 15 minutes during the brewing process, and if you drink 15 bottles or pints of it, you might think grinding at your skin with a wire brush isn’t such a bad idea.
Hop 15 is very strong stuff, 9.7% alcohol by volume, and while it’s delicious, it is the kind of thing that can make a person say, “Whoa, that’ll put hair on your chest” when you first drink it. It’s the beer aficionado’s liquid courage.