Is It The Quarter-Life Crisis Talking Or Do I Actually Want A Tattoo?

If there is one thing that has nagged me for my entire life — not counting intense self-hatred and a near entire lack of self-esteem — it's math.

Back in high school, two days before graduation, my math teacher came up to me ahead of the big end-of-year slide show and asked, "Do you know how close you were to not graduating?"

"Uh... no," I replied as visions of palm trees and girls playing beach volleyball outside my dorm window dance through my head, seeing as I had already punched my ticket to attend college at the hallowed hall of academia that is the University of Central Florida.

"One point," said the public educator with one hell of a Napoleon complex.

Even then I thought it was funny that math was trying to bring me down. I was rocking a report card of all aces, aside from calculus. If a calculus blemish kept me from graduating then the public school system is in worse shape than I thought it was. 

Calculus had realized it was math's final hope to stop me and threw a Hail Mary which I swatted down in the endzone, then teabagged it in the face. I got a penalty for that last part, which is why it ended up so close.

The point is this: Math doesn't like Matt Reigle, and for most of my life I have been able to keep math at bay.

Lately, however, it's been winning.

Last year, I turned 25. This meant that I entered the dreaded quarter-life crisis. Here's where math reared its dickish head: Given that life expectancy is closer to 75 than it is 100, a more accurate name would be a "Third-life crisis." That's a big difference and more than enough to cause everything from the news to AARP commercials to fill my head with existential dread. 

I realized I need to do something, and the first thing that came to my head was the Band-Aid with which many quarter-life crises have been both solved and exacerbated: getting a tattoo.

I've never been big into tattoos, and frankly, the irony of them being a way to express individuality is hilarious. Tattoos used to be reserved for cultural significance or sailors had them, now you're in the minority if you don't have a little ink. This would mean that the most individualistic thing you could do is not get a tattoo.

But maybe I could be swayed into getting some ink because everyone is getting them. There's that tired old thing your parents would say: "If everyone jumped off of a bridge, would you do it too?" Everyone says know, but we all know the answer is yes. If everyone you knew just ran to a bridge and jumped off of it you would absolutely do it too because either 1) you thought they were trying to escape some sort of danger that you had yet to see or 2) there was something pretty great under that bridge and you wanted to be a part of it too.

One thing I never liked about tattoos is the permanency. I'm a guy who has had like four different facial hairstyles since last summer. I like to change things up. You can't do that with a tattoo. Once you decide to get a robot punching Albert Einstein on your bicep it's going to be there in perpetuity.

Plus, I have a problem with chronic buyer's remorse. I regret buying anything, at least for an hour or so afterward. I assume that this type of feeling concerning a tattoo would be brutal.

This kind of rational thinking doesn't jive with any sort of existential crisis, so I began assembling the list of things I would consider for an inaugural tattoo.

The first thing I thought of was a tattoo related to Iron Maiden, the Philadelphia Flyers, or The Simpsons. The problem here is that tattoos like this echo the bumper sticker effect. Why do you need to let everyone you meet know your favorite things right away without them even asking? Can you imagine this playing out in conversation?

Them: Hey there Matt, nice to see y--

Me: I LIKE THE FLYERS AND IRON MAIDEN!!!!!!!!

That'd be ridiculous, so I threw those in the "Maybe" pile.

Next, consideration was some kind of quote. The problem with a lot of those quote tattoos is that they're very formulaic and often generic. Having "Life's a journey..." written on your wrist doesn't make you deep, it makes you someone who looked up inspirational quotes online.

I've also heard people say that they get quote tattoos because whenever they look down at the quote, they're reminded of it. 

So let me get this straight. It's a quote that's so important to you that you had it permanently written on your body, yet you completely forget about it until you're staring at it? If this is true, then these people — and I mean this in the nicest way possible — are fucking morons.

Finally, I came up with what I thought was a pretty decent idea: a heron.

Why a heron? Because at some point I discovered that my last name "Reigle" was derived from the German word for "heron." Pretty cool, right? Combine that with the extra layer of delicious irony that I have a crippling fear of birds and you've got yourself one top-notch tat, friendo.

But is a joke that will garner at best a good-natured chuckle worth marking up my body. I'm not sure. As I always say, my body is a temple. It's more like the Temple of Doom, but that's still a temple.

But who knows what will happen? Maybe I'll get a little ink, and my existential issues will be solved. Or perhaps, I'll take up cross-fit or maybe I'll join a cult and the problems will be solved. 

Well, at least until I throw out my back while flipping over truck tires, or the cult I joined inevitably starts stockpiling weapons.

I think I'll hold off for the time being. I'm thinking maybe I'll save the tats for when I hit the ol' two-thirds life crisis. That'll raise some eyebrows.


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