Monday, August 6, 2012

My teammate’s tat

For some reason this week, I was reminded of a guy I knew in Minot, North Dakota way back in 1992. He had a Winnie-the-Pooh tattoo on his lower left leg.

Yes, Winnie-the-Pooh.

I always wondered—in the whole wide world of tattoo design—why he had gone for Pooh Bear.

He was a young guy, maybe 20. Quiet. Nice. Serving his first Air Force tour of duty in the frozen north. We played together on a squadron volleyball team. I wore tall socks and sweatpants. He wore short socks, exposing Pooh to the entire Air Force base population. He didn’t seem one bit ashamed of the little yellow bear on his leg. He almost acted proud of it, like “Yeah, I’ve got a cartoon tat. What’re you gonna do about it?”

And nobody did anything about it. Nobody even asked him about it. We just nodded and bumped the ball over to him like, “Cool Pooh tat, dude.” It was the elephant (or bear) in the room.

And, at the time, it seemed awfully short-sighted to me. I’d think, “Do you really want a tattoo on your leg when you turn 30 or 40? And, if the answer is yes, do you really want that tattoo?”


Nowadays, I wonder if the tattoo was about something deeper than we all thought. Maybe it was a story about a boy who spent long afternoons at home alone. Maybe there was a good deal of shouting there late at night. Maybe Pooh Corner somehow brought calm into a turbulent world.

I suspect it’s story my teammate couldn’t tell us when he was 20 … but maybe he could tell it now.

I’d certainly like to hear it.


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