I’m not exactly the world’s most social being. In fact, I’ve even relocated to a place where I am quite oftentimes the only human within a good square kilometer. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy meeting people, I really do, but there are a number of handicaps working against me, including, but not limited to, hair-trigger nerves of nothing close to resembling steel and a liberal helping of conversational ineptitude. The sum of which tends to leave me mumbling like a chimp and – if I may borrow a phrase from Johnny Knoxville’s Hicktionary™ – jumpier than a shithouse mouse.
Still, at times, I do find myself situated in the world’s most venerable institution of social scenes, a/k/a the bar. It’s a longstanding love/hate relationship I have with such places, mostly because I am: 1) Happily married and have no need or desire to play wacky games of human roulette; and 2) I’m thoroughly damaged goods. To further explain the latter, after having spent all my formative drinking years under the tutelage of Jeff Tremaine, who is not only a Peabody Award recipient but an undisputed drunken master at whipping the camel’s ass out of a barroom and keeping it hot, I am strictly Pavlovian-conditioned to chaos über alles. So, if it’s anything less than an utterly absurd and circus-like atmosphere, I’d just as soon be home in bed reading a book, painting peacocks, or barking at the loons on Twitter.
All “waaaahs” aside, if and when I must socialize the best coping mechanism I’ve found involves cranberry juice, a wedge of lime, and vodka of preferably top shelf origin. Generally this is a surefire cure for any debilitating anxieties I might have, but it does have one major drawback: it’s primarily a hand-to-mouth therapy, which doesn’t lend itself to casual drinking. It’s all or nothing for me, and within the short span of an hour’s time my lightweight self can undergo a complete Jekyll-to-Hyde makeover with very Bravo overtones, the likes of which are generally tolerated by almost everyone I encounter aside from the most serious meat puppets that matter: bouncers. Consequently it became imperative to find a regulator of sorts… something to moderate the mess. Enter the Sharpie.
Sharpies have long been a staple accessory of our extended family, dating back to the mid-’90s on Big Brother magazine when they were often used to administer half-ass tattoos and mustaches during bouts of road trip boredom, or deservingly decorate anyone dumb enough to fall asleep or pass out in the midst of dicks. However, while off on the road filming for jackass 3D and jackass 3.5 in 2010, I found the Sharpie to be a fun and innocuous way to interact with strangers – or canvases, if you will. They also made for an artistically goofy way to span an otherwise exponentially wasted time.
Now the awesome thing about a Sharpie is that it immediately makes short work of small talk. You simply whip out the marker with a flourish, raise a provocative eyebrow, and offer three simple options: “Would you like a… 1) mustache; 2) arm piece; or 3) tramp stamp?”
Invariably, most every girl will turn down the mustache. Those that don’t, however, are rare treats and may even prove interesting to shoot the shit with once they’re suitably hair-lipped in a Waters, Chaplin, Zaritsky, or Fingers.
The arm is the one most often preferred and proffered, but tentative is as tentative does and they’ll usually have the gall to request something “nice”. So it’s always a good idea to hold on tight should they begin to have any second thoughts on the whole marked-up matter.
Though highly indicative of low moral caliber (or an extreme flair for downhill skiing), the tramp stamp can perhaps be the most fun application of them all. Mostly because these happy-go-lucky individuals have no idea what’s being drawn on them up until one of their friends freaks out and tries to cock-block the creative process. Unfortunately, the tramp stamp does wreak the most havoc on marker nibs – it’s a lower back-to-upper butt bar sweat thing – so it’s always a good idea to be strapped with a few backup pens.
Every once in a while, yes, you will get a surprise counteroffer for a leg, belly, or upper boob (on that note, fake boobs are the absolute Strathmore of skin palettes), in which case it’s always good to go the extra mile and mar as much epidermal real estate as possible. Why? Because you never know if and when a friend of yours might try to hook up with them, at which point they’ll then have to deal with looking at all this stupid crap while trying to make sexy time.
Now, admittedly, I do have an artistic background, but even then my sensibilities become somewhat diminished by the evening’s intake. Plus, speed is of the essence, so I immediately default to the more turgid aspects of male anatomy. In the event the canvas is feeling remotely reluctant or first asked for a unicorn, flower, or “something pretty”, I’ll generally prolong the process with a never-ending ‘70s man-mane, a surplus of gross veiners, and ejaculatory globs that would make Peter North point with pride. When and if it’s a tramp stamp, however, I instead pay homage to a classic World Industries dealer sticker (ca. 1990) originally drawn by Marc McKee that read “shit sold here” beneath a coil of crude, cartoon poo replete with stink lines and accompanying flies.
Of course it’s only right and natural to reciprocate the act, so after leaving my own mark, I’ll gladly let them have a big black whack at my own skin (a lot of which tends to be available since I have a rather hard time keeping my shirt intact). Many are actually itching to do so once they’re blazing a big bold erection on their arm, and by night’s end I’m usually a walking scratch pad of various epithets and sub-par penis renditions, all of which make for a lengthy bubble bath before bedtime. Well, it’s either that or I’m liable to wake up in the morning swaddled in blackened sheets looking like I was raped by a coal miner.