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Original Issue

Ink-Stained Wretch

Maybe you're surprised to see me naked as a new monkey, am I right?

But I just wanted to give you a quick tour of my tattoos. With only that head shot at the top of the column, people never get to see the real me. Feel free to take notes. No pictures, though. Most of these are copyrighted. I'm shopping my new book to publishers: Dats My Tats!

I'm extremely proud of my body art. You should see the faces on all the jocks I interview when I strip down and show them. You can just see the shock in their eyes: They can't believe a sportswriter could be this down. Plus, I believe I have more tattoos than any other sportswriter in America (other than that one guy at Stars and Stripes), and I know that's something my family is proud of.

In fact, this one across my right nipple is for my mom. It was my first one. I did it myself, at 17, with a white-hot fondue fork. I thought it said MOM when I was writing it, but people tell me that from their side it says WOW. Anyway, I've been a foo' for the 'too ever since.

O.K., this one here, on my right forearm, is Chinese. Not quite sure what it says. The tattoo artist who gave it to me in Detroit said it meant "strong like bull," but a Chinese waiter came up to me in New York last month and said, "Why does it say 'full of bull' on your arm?" So I guess I'd better look into that a bit more.

I try to keep my tats real, y'all. Like this one across my left pec: GOD ROCKS. See, that's God standing on top of the huge pile of rocks with a scepter and all, but that's my face on Him! Hey, I'm not afraid to be openly spiritual that way.

This one across my right biceps is a little bit of a problem, though. It used to say BAD ASS KILLA, but I guess, as I've gotten older, my biceps aren't what they used to be. So now it says BASS KILLA. And now Field & Stream wants me to write freelance pieces. All you wise guys can stop sending me lures and flies, too.

Same with this tat down my right calf. You know I'm a huge Wu-Tang Clan fan, right? So one night in Miami I got one that said, WU-TANG POSSY. Yeah, the guy misspelled posse, but hip-hop isn't exactly a spelling bee, you know. Anyway, I guess I was bigger, more pumped up then, so it kind of wrinkled or something and now it says WUSSY. But that's not how I roll, O.K.? So all you guys at the health club can stop making those cracks behind my back in the steam room. I hear you. I'm not laughing.

What? A chicken? Hell, no, that's not a chicken! That's a damn eagle! You know, you're the third person to say that to me! Let me give you some advice: Those combination tattoo parlor--Laundromat joints, they aren't always such a hot idea.

You're probably wondering about this one across my stomach. See, it used to say, MARIANNE FOREVER, but then she cheated on me with my neighbor, so when I met Annabelle, I changed it to read:


But then she cheated on me with my accountant. Luckily I hooked up with this girl Veronica, so I changed it to:


But then she dumped me for my paperboy. It took me three years, but I finally got with a girl named Nicolette, so I changed it to:


But then she got hot about the spelling and cheated on me with Veronica, so now it just reads:


Whitney Houston says the greatest love of all is love of self, right? So I'm fine with it.

On my throat? No, I don't have a tat on my throat. Oh, sorry, that's BBQ sauce.

Now look at my feet. This is pretty cool. I've got Don King on my left and an Afroed Dr. J on my right, and when I wiggle my toes, it looks like their hair is blowing in the wind. I keep trying to show it to those guys, but every time I start to take off my socks, they say they've got to take a call.

O.K., now go around to the backside of me and I'll show you the rest. No, really, I insist. I'm not charging you anything.

See that huge one on my back, goes from my neck to my booty? That was supposed to be my favorite rockers, U2. But what happened was, I went into a little tattoo joint in Vegas run by a guy and his wife, and I said to them, "Give me a really big one on my back of U2." They kind of looked at me funny, but finally got to work on it. When I woke up three hours later, I looked in the mirror and it was a life-sized head and shoulders of the husband and wife! I was really torqued off, but all their friends say it's a really good likeness of the couple, so I guess I can live with it.

Now check out my butt. The tattoo on the left cheek is an eye and the one on the right cheek is an eye, and when I do this ... it looks like they wink back and forth! You laugh, but that's how I got Veronica.

O.K., now for the hidden ones.... ■

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I'm proud of my tattoos. You should see the faces on all the jocks I interview when I strip down and show them.