A very special Spring Break story, considering it's my own. Yes, your humble editor was once a student, and a fool. The Bahamas were very welcoming of both.
Those were heady days in March of 2002. Sarah Hughes was America's sweetheart. The war in Afghanistan had just begun. And 50-odd seniors from New York's Stuyvesant High School lit out for a week in Nassau, Bahamas.
It was one of those organized student tours operated by companies like STA, and others of less repute. The type where everyone on board the plane cheers when it touches down. The type where the tour operator greets you all with neon-green wristbands, and warns a room full of 17- and 18-year-olds that while underage drinking is still illegal, "what happens in the Bahamas, stays in the Bahamas."
The trip saw the standard amount of drinking, partying, and ostensibly prim classmates in various states of undress/wet t-shirts. The combination of that, plus a brutal sunburn on the first day that turned me from pasty-white to salmon-pink, must have done something to my brain. On the fifth morning I woke up, roused the three boys and one girl that were sharing my two-bed hotel room, and declared, "I'm going to get a tattoo today."
We wandered away from the touristy beachfront and into downtown Nassau. In my desire not to get overcharged, I neglected to consider the standards of cleanliness that fly on a tiny Caribbean nation. But we entered the first tattoo parlor we found, and I scanned the myriad designs on the walls for an idea.
I should note at this point that I didn't know what I wanted, or where. But the second turned out to be dictated by the first. A sunburst, with radiating lines piqued my fancy, and for whatever reason, I decided it would only look right across my neck, centered on the soft spot beneath my larynx.
Since you're asking, it wasn't particularly painful. The skin is thick, and takes ink well, so it was over in a short time. The worst part was the needle on sunburned skin.
Of course, the perpetually drunk Spring Breakers thought it was the greatest thing ever. My parents were less thrilled, though the fact that I've never been arrested has led them to pick their battles.
Someday, 20 years from now, when I'll probably still be working the night shift at Deadspin, I'll show my kids these photos. And then they'll know why daddy can never get an office job.