People From Around The World Share Their Worst Tattoo Stories

People From Around The World Share Their Worst Tattoo Stories

It may be cliché to say "will you still like that tattoo when you are 90?" but there is some wisdom there. A lot of people make bad decisions when it comes to permanent tattoos. From stupid jokes that are old 3 months from now, to names of ex-lovers, to just about anything in-between, tattoo artists have seen it all. And luckily for us, they are willing to share the horrible decisions these people have made.
Fingers crossed your tattoo doesn't show up on this list.

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42. Why would anyone think this is ok

was in a shop once when a lady came in with her daughter in a stroller. The little girl had to have been 9 months old tops. Lady wanted the tattoo artist to give her 9-month-old a Mickey Mouse tattoo. The artist just looked her in the face and said, "You shouldn't be allowed to have that baby" and the woman and her friend stormed out calling the artist a racist.

No one laughed, because everyone knew she would just go find someone with a home kit and have it done. They were going to call Child Protective Services but no one could get their license plate number before they sped off.

Piercing a baby's ears or getting them tattooed is awful parenting. You gotta wait for the kid to be old enough to weigh the consequences themselves.

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41. Sounds pretty neat, honestly

I was getting my ribs done by Steve Moore at his shop and I asked him what the weirdest tattoo he had ever done was. He said hands down it was the one he did on Montell Williams, the talkshow host.

Most people don't know this about Montel, but he is an avid snowboarder and is extremely passionate about it. He wasn't very good, but he was focused on improving and learning tricks. Every weekend he would go snowboarding in the winter and would often be spotted in Whistler for vacations. I once delivered a can of coke to his room, a little let down his wife answered the order but, whatever.

So Montel reached out to Steve and commissioned him to do a piece on him. We wanted a 1/2 man 1/2 panther riding a snowboard. Steve obliged well because money and said it was the cheesiest piece he has ever done.

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40. Sound advice, though

The head gasket of my friend's car blew when he, I, and one other friend were driving home from a weekend of partying two states away (life lesson, kids. The answer to, "When was the last time you added coolant?" should not be "Coolant?"). We got towed to the nearest "city": Ottumwa, Iowa. It happened to be Sunday and Ottumwa is the type of town that had no auto shops open until Monday, so we spent the entire day drinking in our hotel room and then gracing whatever establishments served drinks as they opened for business.

At some point, a joke started cumulating about what would be the stupidest tattoo possible to commemorate the trip. The end product was a tow truck labeled Gus (the name of our tow truck driver) towing a coffee pot (one of our limited drinking vessels in the hotel room), and some words of wisdom from one bartender ("Don't go to Scooters" [local bar that's now closed and had a reputation for being unfriendly to non-locals] and "Don't pay with plastic" [don't use credit cards at another bar known for adding bogus charges to your bill]). The bartender who offered the quotes also helped us design the tattoo on a bar napkin because we were all far too inebriated to draw a straight line. Eventually, my friend declared that if we could find an open tattoo parlor (it was about midnight at this point), he would have the ink added to his body. I imagine he felt safe making that declaration, because why would there be a tattoo parlor open in Ottumwa, Iowa in the middle of the night?

Well, there was a tattoo parlor open at midnight in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Kind of.

What there really was, was a handbag store that, for some reason, I do not understand, had a tattoo parlor in the basement.

Thanks to being in the magical place where all bad ideas seem like great ideas, my friend now has a tow truck towing a coffee pot and some words of wisdom regarding a small town in Iowa gracing one of his legs, just above the kneecap.

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39. Hail

In the little college town I live in, all these girls want a cross on their wrist to show how “spiritual” they are. Whatever.

Every one of them wants me to put the cross so it’s facing them.

That’s upside down to everyone who sees it. These sweet college girls are getting upside down crosses and looking like Satan’s little devils.

I do ask them if they know it’s upside down. In true self-centered college girl fashion, they invariably reply, “it’s right-side-up to ME!” Like the other billions of people on the planet don’t matter.

Okay, Brayden. One upside down cross, coming up.

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38. I don't wanna be a monkey wrench

the last time I got a tattoo I overheard the guy in the stall next to mine getting a tattoo of 3 wrenches along his forearm. His tattoo artist was asking why wrenches, like was he a mechanic or an engineer? Nope, dude was a chef.

Maybe he wanted to be a mechanic? Or it was a hobby or something? Nope, the dude had always wanted to be a chef and loved his work.

Then why the wrench? Turns out the dude just really liked wrenches.

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37. There better have been a sweet prize

A few years back a young man from the wonderful area of Inverness, FL, stumbled in while we were taking a break on my leg piece. As part of a high school senior class scavenger hunt (and the top points prize), he wanted a simple tattoo:


On his right butt cheek.

We asked him a few times if he was sure, considering he originally came in asking if the shop did “semi-permanent” tattoos. Once we explained to him that the shop did not offer that, he shrugged and said: “Alright, let’s do a real one.”

Artists asks me if it’s okay if he knocks that one out quick, I say sure. They do the tattoo, kid thanks us all for not being mean and leaves.


Three more showed up that night since we were the only shop open on a random Sunday. We turned them all away.

The others didn’t take that part of the scavenger hunt seriously (thought nobody would do it) until the kid who showed up first started texting the photo of it around.

Plus, I wanted to finish my leg piece and go home.

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36. Now that's what I call metal

There was an 85-year-old woman who came into my tattoo artists shop, saying exactly: “I WANT A SKULL WITH DAGGERS AND FIRE”. My artist said: “Yeah!” and now she’s an 85-year-old grandma with skull and daggers on her chest.


35. Ring, Ring, Banana Phone

My friends called me ‘Banana man’ in high school…

I had long blonde hair that I ‘Manic Panicked’ totally yellow. When I sat on the couch, vegging out, it was often the scene of me with my hair over my face looking like a banana… hence ‘Banana man’.

Fast forward a beat and you have me, in the Army, no more long hair, hammered, on my first ‘phase 3’ outing. I’m feeling homesick and tired— typical moody new Army recruit. I stumble into a tattoo parlor outside of Ft. Lee, Virginia and ask for a ‘banana man’ tattoo.

A lady there says she’ll do it. Her excuse is she has fantasy items she wants to tattoo. Last month she got to tattoo a toaster on someone and now she gets to mark ‘banana’ off her list. She draws me up a cartoon of a smiling banana half out of its peel and I loved it! Bam! Before I know it I’m back in the barracks rubbing ointment on my upper arm.

Now I’m in my late 30’s and have had to explain this dumb tattoo far more times than I’m comfortable with. I’ve got a few more tattoos now and I love them all except this dumb ‘hammered purchase’ that I can’t get rid of.

I’d love to cover it up but it’s that perfect size and shape that all my ideas amount to ‘big black dot’ on the upper arm. I’ve even gone to a few tattoo parlors and had artists tell me it’s either going to be a ‘big black dot’ or you’re going to see some of it.

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34. Pain is temporary, glory is eternal

My friend wanted angel wings tattooed on her back and asked me to go since I was the only person she knew with tattoos. We walk into a pretty well-known tattoo shop in LA and she explains to the artist what she wants. As she explains, it gets even more elaborate with the wings starting to decay the farther down her back they went and the artist shows us some pretty sweet wings he’d done before. He explains how it will be done, he’d do the outline first and after a few weeks she could come back and he’d start the detail work.

Fast forward to three days later and she’s topless lying on his chair and he’s laying a stencil down. He asks her what other tattoos she has besides this one and she tells him that this will be her first one. Tattoo guy’s face drops instantly and he starts saying how he’s going to end up tattooing some of the most painful parts you could tattoo (the ribs mostly) and he asks if she can handle it. She says yes and after a little more talking it happened. She cannot take the pain at all, she’s crying and gripping the cushion like she’s about to die. Artist looks at me and his face reads like ‘is she really going to do this the entire time?’

After half an hour of tattooing with the occasional break he says he can’t deal with her screaming in the shop so he stops. He had probably 10% of the outline done on the right wing. We leave with another appointment set so another person could help her with the tattoo and make it something smaller. I didn’t go back but she went with two female friends and from what I heard, it was another ten minutes of tattooing. So, she ended up having a nice wave outline on her back.

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33. How does this happen

I was a shop girl, so it was my job to get everything set up for the tattoos. I had a couple come in and want each other’s names tattooed on them— okay, no problem. At this shop, we had a rule that anything involving words has to have the person sign a copy of the lettering to make sure everything is spelled correctly. So they write their names down and the artists draw up the lettering and I give them the copies to double-check spelling and sign off on it. The woman looks at the man’s name and says it’s spelled wrong.

We double check and that’s how he spelled it and he looks at it and says it’s right, and they argue about this. I go back and look at how it is spelled on his ID and sure enough, it’s spelled wrong. So he decides maybe it is spelled wrong, and the artist redraws it. On all his paperwork he had spelled his name wrong, the way he had written it for the artist. His name is pretty common, I think he just really didn’t know how to spell his name. This was a couple probably in their late 20s, early 30s with a few kids together.

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32. The customer isn't always right

I was booking a tattoo one day and a woman came in to buy her soon-to-be-16-year-old daughter a tattoo. The owner and tattooist says, “Sure we can sort something out, what is she wanting?” Mother says: “She wants to get the Playboy bunny on the inside of her wrist.” Artist refused and said: “I don’t want to be responsible for something so cliche and visible on such a young girl.” There was an argument, but the woman leaves yelling she is going elsewhere where her money is good enough. He had strong views on neck, face, and hand tattoos.

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31. Maybe he had been married twice before for a reason

I've tattooed a guy's current wife's name on him, in the same session covered up his previous wife's name, and he also showed me another different previous wife's name he had on him. He didn't want to cover that one though, she must have not been that bad.

We also had this couple come in all the time to get tattooed at the first shop I worked at. The guy would come in sometimes with a side girl and buy her tattoos, sometimes with his fiancé. After they were married his fiancé wanted me to tattoo their wedding date on her wrist - I felt really weird trying to talk her out of it while not feeling like it was my place to tell her about this guy's behavior. I ended up doing it for her, and a year later she came in to get a red line tattooed through the date.

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30. I hope she paid in advance

I worked in a tattoo shop for a few months learning to be a body piercer. The owner was this gruff older guy.

Anyways, this girl walks in and wants a tattoo of a daisy on the top of her foot. It was her first tattoo. The owner tried for a good ten minutes to talk her out of it, explaining how painful it was to get a tattoo there. She basically told him “shut up and do the tattoo, old man.” So, he did. She got about a half inch line done before she screamed and kicked him right in the face. She started bawling her eyes out about how bad it hurt. She left with nothing but that half inch line as a “trophy” to her own stupidity.

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29. Yummy delicious

Well, my friend recently got 汤, the Chinese word for soup, tattooed on his ankle.

He'd been planning it for like 3 years. he reportedly did his research to make sure they didn't tattoo "truth or beauty or some other dumb cliché."


28. Someone's gonna need to call a vet 'cuz this dolphin is sick

My dad has a terrible tattoo on his arm of his and my mum's name. Years ago she told him to get something around it to make it look a little nicer and he came back with a dolphin on his pec

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27. That's pretty sweet

When I was in highschool, a kid got a 7/11 Slurpee tattooed on his inner forearm. He showed it to the guy who owned the 7/11 near by, who was so impressed he gave him free Slurpees for life.

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26. Don't get a tattoo of someone's name, just don't.

A long time ago when I had first started out in this industry, freshly out of my apprenticeship, I used to secretly do these girlfriend/boyfriend names with a dark gray wash instead of pure black so they’d be easier to cover later.

After nine years, I do them as bold and black as possible and make sure that whoever has to cover it up six months later (once they’ve broken up) has a hell of a time doing it. If they come back to me, I make sure to charge extra.

I think I developed this bit of misanthropy after almost a decade of “Hey you may not want to get this, I cover these up all the time and it can be an expensive mistake” warnings being blown off, because this guy you’ve known for six months is the one and it’s going to be true love forever

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25. Does it sparkle, though

During the Twilight craze, a mother brought in her fourteen-year-old to get vampire bites tattooed on her neck. Little holes with blood streaming down. We refused and they got angry. A few years later, I saw that girl in public, she must have gone to a bad shop. She had two quarter-sized black dots with red strings all the way down her stupid neck.

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24. Clever girl

I know a girl with a camel tattooed on one of her toes— it’s only an outline and it’s hidden most of the time, but I do wonder what motivated her to have that tattoo.

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23. Hopefully, everyone else gets the joke

We had this lovely exchange student come into the studio for about a year to get all sorts of piercings and then the day finally came that he turned 18. So, he asked to sit down and chat with him about what he wanted. Now, the way he asked me made me think that it was going to be this big elaborate design. He asked for a math equation on his foot. He wanted 3+4=8. I cautiously asked if he knew that was the incorrect answer to the equation. His response was, “Oh yeah I know, I just think it’d make a funny tattoo.” So yeah.


22. The big finish

I have a very good friend who sported a large Chinese symbol tattoo on his calf for years. He thought it read 'prosperity'. It wasn't until his father in law was hospitalized after suffering a massive heart attack and the attending doctor was Chinese that he found out what it really meant. The poor doctor couldn't understand why he had tattooed 'Climax' on his leg!

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21. What happens in Vegas

Oh man. My dad and my stepmom got tattoos the day before they got impulsively married in Vegas. My stepmom, she got his last name tattooed on her inner forearm, about three inches long. My dad? Got an enormous full-body portrait of my stepmother in lingerie, it covers his shoulder and almost all of his upper arm. I was about thirteen at that point and I was livid after they came back and showed us their new ink and their rings. At least they’re still married now.



20. I bet the guy's name was Troy

I had a guy come in that wanted a raw T-bone steak on his chest. I told him no, but the guy insisted, so I finally let him make an appointment to come back in a few days when he was more clear-headed and talk about it.

The dude actually came back and was still insistent that he wanted the steak. I told him okay, put together some sample art, still thinking this guy would change his mind and not show. But he comes back, and he loves the art that I show him.

So I said, “Why not?” and do it.

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19. This sounds really cool

I had four artists refuse to do mine. Fell a few years back, have a gnarly scar on my wrist that reminds me of flower steam. Decided I wanted a white ink vintage tulip on my wrist/hand to look like an extension to the scar. Finally, I found someone and I absolutely love it. Hurt real bad though because it was right on top of a screw in my wrist, vibrated my entire arm.

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18. The "cool kids"

I had a friend after a night of parting get a 666 with upside down crosses on each side on the inside of his lip, This was not because he was a satanist, but because we were the cool kids.

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17. Mmmmm... Bacon

My buddy got the Simpson’s donut tattooed on his shin. It was really big with the pink frosting, sprinkles, and bite taken out of it. I went to visit him a few weeks later and he’d added a huge slice of bacon on the other shin. I asked him what for? He said he really likes bacon with donuts.

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16. Man, that sucks

I had a coworker once desperate to win a local call-in radio prize for free tattoo removal. When I asked why (thinking it was the one on her stomach since she was newly pregnant) she lifted up the back of her shirt to show me the foot tall Cullen crest completely with sadly fuzzy edges across the from the bottom of her rib cage to her hips. I asked her if she was into Twilight because she'd never said anything while I was disparaging it to a co-worker a while before and she said not really anymore.

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15. At this point, you only have yourself to blame

A person came in wanting a phrase, and one of the words was "quota", my cousin said that it didn't make sense.

"Are you SURE you want it to say quota?" And he wrote the phrase out on paper. "Yeah! That's exactly it! Quota!"

My cousin is not sure but he does the tattoo.

2 weeks later the guy comes in and says "IT WAS SUPPOSED TO SAY QUARTER! NOT QUOTA!"

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14. Live fast

I have a "Sailor Jerry" style tattoo of a dog, dragging its ass on the ground tattooed on my leg. It was actually the artist's idea and he gave it to me for free because I gave him a ride home in the rain (he was an avid cyclist) one night. I named him Scooter and I have no ragrets.

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13. Big Sanrio fan

I have a friend that got Hello Kitty tattooed on his forearm, we're both mid 20's guys and share the same artist. We always used to ask him why he got it and he would tell us it was a memorial to a family friend but would never elaborate, he eventually got it covered up which I thought was odd if it genuinely was in memory of a very close family friend.

I asked my artist about it the next time I was having some work done and he told me that when he originally got it he obviously questioned if he really wanted to go ahead with it, he confirmed he did and gave his reasoning "it's the most emo thing I can think of" or something along those lines...

Apparently, he was going through a phase and he since had the original covered up by a much better full sleeve.

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12. This is not the last unicorn

My dad got a unicorn tattooed above his nipple when he was 18. Apparently got it matching with an ex-girlfriend. It's all blue and fuzzy and faded now, but It's weird to know there's a 40-50 year old woman out there with a tattoo of a unicorn on her breast.

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11. #RelationshipGoals this is not

When I was getting my tattoo done this barely 18 girl casually strolls in with her bad boy boyfriend. She explains she is finally allowed a tattoo and the first thing she wanted was an infinity symbol with her boyfriend's name, on her boob where everyone can see. The guy tells her she may regret this decision later on, as she only turned 18 yesterday and names for significant others are rarely a good idea. She snaps, says they've been together on and off for four years so she knows better than him. So the guy says fine, where exactly do you want it and how big? Turns out she wanted it like 20 cm across.

For the next 2 hours I watched her cry and bite her lip and grab the cushions while her boyfriend paid her no attention, he was just texting on his phone and kept walking in and out to get snacks

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10. Making the beach boys proud

I’ve had 3 tattooists’ ask me ‘Are you sure?’ All because of the same tattoo. Long story short, I lost a bet, ended up with a phallic shaped a surfboard tattooed to my behind. Well, it turns out this is a great conversation starter and always gets a giggle from everyone who sees it. But the tattoo itself isn’t great, so I’d like to tidy it up and make it look better. Every single tattooist I’ve asked has looked at me like I’m crazy. One went as far as to tell me a young woman should not have surfing genitalia on her butt.

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9. Turns out, not everyone loves Raymond after all

When I was in Ontario an artist I went to had a picture of a tattoo he did in his portfolio I asked him about. It was a lower back tattoo on a girl in a huge black font that said "I'm gonna kill you, Ray Romano."

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8. Instant regret

My younger cousin went with his girlfriend to get her name tattooed on his wrist. They'd been together for two weeks. The artist is hesitant at first but doesn't give him "the speech"; he's just doing his job.

My cousin and his girlfriend break up WHILE he's in the chair getting the tattoo. On his wrist is "SHANA" in big block letters with only the S and part of the H filled in.

Funny thing is I learned about this while a bunch of my cousins and friends were all hanging out, and this kid was absolutely ROASTING me because he thinks the tattoo I have on MY arm is lame. It wasn't until someone else pointed out the disaster on his wrist that I knew about this.

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7. Just get a regular ring, they are cheaper and come off easier

While getting my tattoo a dude comes in because he lost a bet. The shop wasn't busy and it is just a little mustache tattoo on his finger. So they sit him in the chair next to me and I think. Ha, that's funny and adorable.

Then he tells the guy he's getting married later that day and let's do the ring tattoo! The ring you can never take off!

Pantsless with just a tiny towel covering me like a loincloth as I get my hip tattoo I suddenly blurt out, "don't do it!"

The tattoo guy goes "listen to the lady with no pants."

He didn't listen. He got the ring tattoo. The tattoo guy says after he leaves, "after names, those are the things I hate doing the most."

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6. Imagine explaining that one

Distraught dude came in wanting a portrait. I asked to see the reference photo that he wanted to get tattooed. He showed me a bunch of low-resolution webcam shots of this lady from a dating site. I assumed he was trying to impress some online woman he met. So, without telling him that was a horrendous idea, I instead said it wouldn’t work due to the low quality of the pictures and the heavy filters she used.

Later learned that the pictures were of his ex-wife from her new dating profile. He was having a really hard time getting over her so I convinced him that this probably wasn’t the best way to get over someone. He ended up booking an appointment to get his sons’ portraits instead… and then didn’t show up for the appointment. So, happy ending?

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5. Spell check exists for a reason, guys

I know someone who went in to get “unscarred” across his chest. He messed up the spelling and now has “unscared” tattooed across his chest.

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4. Friendly neighborhood Spiderman

My good friend who is also a tattoo artist talked me out of getting Spiderman swinging from one nipple to the other. I’m still not sure he was right.

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3. 100% worth it

My sister had a good story about her friend. He found a Chinese tattoo artist and told him he really liked the look of Chinese writing and since the artist knew how to write and read it if he could write something clever and not tell him what it says then tattoo it on him so long as it wasn't inappropriate...

So the artist does and he gets this tattoo on his arm. The artist tells him "next time you get Chinese food, show the server your tattoo before you get your bill". So my sister's friend promptly goes to get Chinese food and does this. His waitress laughs her face off and brings him the bill with a huge discount. He tells her the story and asks her what it says since he doesn't know.

"50% off Chinese food" she replies.

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2. Classic Florida boy

I knew a soldier in my unit who wanted “Florida” tattooed on his chest (where he was born). Tattoo artist put on the stencil, asked him to check it out. He looked in the mirror and declared it was backward. The artist began to explain how mirrors work and he quickly responded with “Look, I can see it’s backward. Just flip it, OK?” So, the artist obliged. When he proudly showed off his new tattoo the amount of laughter that ensued embarrassed him into wearing t-shirts every second of every day for months.

However, he redeemed himself by getting the word Cavalry tattooed on his back because, as I’m sure you guessed, he was in the cavalry at the time. However, he once again messed it up by getting the word Calvary tattooed on his back with is a very subtle but very important difference. Both tattoos were big, bold block letters absolutely impossible to cover him. 

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1. That's gonna be a hard pass from me

My ex-husband is in the medical profession and came across a cadaver with a tattoo above her private area which stated, “It’s Finger Licken Good”.

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