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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Animal House Tattoo leaves an impression

Luke Copley | The Reflector
Animal House Tattoo leaves an impression

The opinion can just be said up front. I recommend Animal House tattoo, and it is my opinion that Meat, my tattoo artist, gave me a good tattoo that is healing nicely.

Once we get that out of the way, the obvious question is why his name is “Meat.” 

I wondered the same, but I figured he was tired of getting asked. Had he been serving me as an oncologist, I would have asked first thing. Sometimes though, things make enough sense without an explanation. A man named Meat working out of a two bed one bath converted into a tattoo parlor called “Animal House” was one of those things. 

A man named Meat was giving me a tattoo, and that made sense to me.

Meat is well over six feet tall and is wearing compression sleeves beneath a Superman t-shirt. In the inking room, assorted Justice League memorabilia and comic books are taped above his desk. I ask if he reads comics and he says not really, but that his daughter likes them. I take him at his word until he tells me exactly how many copies of Action Comics #1 still exist, where the most recently discovered copy had been found and how much it sold for. I ask him his thoughts on Marvel movies and try my best to listen critically as he pummels my ribcage with a seven-needle cartridge.

I met him earlier that day, when I called to ask if he could take any walk-ins that weekend. I told him I was trying to get my first three tattoos within two days at the three different tattoo shops in Starkville. He later referred to that plan as “taking the bullet for journalism.” He also told me it would be challenging to get spots at all three tattoo parlors on such short notice, and he was right, which is why I only have one tattoo.

I got tattooed for my job by a man named Meat, and this felt like a reasonable professional choice.

At the strategy meeting beforehand, Meat tells me the tattoo I want is too complicated to be the size I want. My tattoo is a line drawing of hot-air balloons from an architecture firm called Archigram, which never designed things to be built, so much as talked about. Meat graciously opts not to ask if it had meaning, which is ideal because it does not.

I ask Meat if he has a personal style of tattoo that he works best in. Meat tells me his personal style is whatever the style of the requested tattoo is, which is a safe, business-oriented answer. After a moment, he tells me roses are his favorite.

Meat tells me most tattoo artists tattoo themselves before anyone else, because one should know what the pain feels like before they inflict it on someone else. I have heard this is the same rule cops have to follow with their tasers. 

“I couldn’t tattoo myself, because my psoriasis is in most of the places I would be able to access.”

So Meat’s mentor told him he would have to find a loved one or family member, one prone to forgiveness if things go south, and for months Meat waited for the opportunity. One day, an old friend came in to have an old tattoo covered on her inner wrist, and Meat’s mentor made him do it. He drew her a red rose. 

“Ever since, I have made it my mission to make each rose better than the last. If you go through my work over the years, you can see how drastic the differences are.”

Meat shows me the photo in his portfolio. I start going through the photos to see how drastic the difference is but am soon distracted by a photo of a man who has “HUMBLE BEAST” tattooed across his chest in Gutenberg Bible page head script. I laugh at this and ask if he remembers that man as particularly humble.

I ask if he ever tells people their tattoo ideas are bad. He tells me he used to, but stopped after years of fighting with stubborn people. He tells me the last time he did, a freshman had come in on move in day and asked for a tattoo of “Smurfette, from the Smurfs, sitting on a mushroom, holding a fat blunt,” on the inside of her forearm. Meat tells me the freshman said she was going to be a paralegal when she grew up, and when he pushed back about what that tattoo might say to employers, she told him the tattoo does not confirm that she smokes weed. He said he let it go.

Meat tells me there are at least two body doubles of President Joe Biden that show up in public and shows me photos of Biden’s earlobes as proof. Meat tells me he is a single father.  Meat tells me someone once referred to one of his loved ones as a slur outside of the China Garden, and I cannot tell if he is speaking colloquially when he says the interaction got violent.

Meat tells me he is not political because it drives people apart. Meat tells me I need to stop flinching. I listen. Meat tells me Henry Cavill was a good Superman. Meat tells me why his name is Meat, and I lay still with my eyes closed, not flinching. I am a little disappointed by the story, so I ask him his thoughts on the new Batman and let it be.

About the Contributor
Luke Copley
Luke Copley, Former Opinion Editor
Luke Copley served as the Opinion Editor from 2022 to 2023.
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Animal House Tattoo leaves an impression