“Gambier Ink”: Tattoos Around Campus, Part II


Cathy’s tattoo, which she got for a “notorious” high school scavenger hunt.

Throughout this process (check out last week’s part one), I learned a bunch of intimate details about Kenyon students whom I both had and hadn’t met before. I was also struck by the fact that these (somewhat) strangers were down to disrobe to varying publicly acceptable degrees for this, so maybe we’re making progress. The world is a crazy place. Here’s part two of “Gambier Ink”:

Cathy Mayer ’16

My high school had this scavenger hunt that is notorious for having like, lots of crazy requirements — you divide up into teams, and you compete and do them. … A lot of them are not something I would really want documented — like I don’t know if I’m allowed to say them, for the like, the code of the scavenger hunt — but like … some … very vulgar things, and I was not that down to do that. But I had gotten it into my mind that I would do the tattoo thing.

I just told them to give me a bird, like a seagull in the distance. People, when they look at it, sometimes think it’s a mustache, which is awful. Just the opposite of what I wanted.

I’ve added meaning onto it afterwards. I was like, you know what, I do like seagulls. Seagulls are a great bird.


Eliza Blum ’15

I got it last semester while I was in Lima, Peru. … I was studying gender and I was like, ‘Fuck the patriarchy!’ … because machismo is really big in Peru … and [also because] my parents weren’t there. … I told them over video chat.

I took like six Advil beforehand because I was scared. … Halfway through, they’d done just the outline. … I looked at it and was like, ‘Let’s just finish it here. It’s good like that.’

It’s a feminist symbol but can also be a Black Power fist. … When people ask, I don’t want to tell the whole story, so I just say it’s a Black Power fist.


Tim Jurney ’15

Between the two of us, my brother’s the macho guy; he’s the one who’s going to jump into something completely ridiculous with his body and potentially hurt himself and have no problem with it. We went to get tattoos, and he was the first one to get this, and was in so much pain — I mean, it’s really sensitive, it’s one of the most sensitive places to get. … He wasn’t crying, but his eyes were watering … with like, the force of trying to hold it in, and his whole body was shaking up and down. … And I like, didn’t really even feel it when I got it, like it didn’t hurt at all. He didn’t want to talk about the tattoo for like, a few days, because he was too mad that it didn’t hurt me but it did hurt him.

We grew up around water, and since we were five, we’ve called each other ‘each other’s anchor.’ So half of it is incomplete, because we complete each other’s anchor, or like, we together make an anchor.


Nina Zimmerman ’14

I got it … 10 days before my 20th birthday. I really, really wanted to get a tattoo, and I thought that the timing was perfect because that way if I regretted it someday, I was still technically 19, and I could still technically refer to it as ‘teenage stupidity.’

My brother … has three [tattoos]; I actually have one more than he has, at the moment. … Our mom really doesn’t like them but … she loves us as people, and that’s enough — or so I learned from having to tell her about each of them.

I was originally gonna get this on my ass so then my mom couldn’t see it, but then it was [a friend] who pointed out to me, if my mom can’t see it, well then, neither can I.

I went to spring training for a week in March, and one day I was like, I have this baseball on my wrist, I have this baseball in my hand — why not try and see if someone will sign the one on my wrist? I decided to try it at the Chicago Cubs ballpark — they had this player … his nickname is ‘Tatman.’ … I was like, ‘Okay, I need to pick the perfect person to ask,’ so I asked him, and he was like, ‘Yeah, sure I’ve never been asked to sign that before.’ … So yeah, he took his time and held my wrist … and he did a really great job.”


Ikenna Nwadibia ’14

I got this two years ago, so going into my junior year. … I got this because ‘CC’ represents both my sister and my brother; both of their first names start with C, there’re only three of us — I’m the baby in the family.

A lot of people always ask me, you know, ‘What’s your favorite tattoo?’ And I always give them [this] because it’s like, us three children, us three kinda doing everything together. … Those are my best friends from birth, so that’s really why I got it.  And believe it or not, that one hurt the most. I always said I would always get the one that meant the most where it hurts the most, because they meant the most to me.


Brian Pragacz ’17

My parents actually were the people who bought it for me. My mom has two awful tattoos, so my brother and I both get one, at least.

I got my Harry Potter tattoo on July 31, because it’s Harry Potter’s and my birthday, and I’m that kind of nerd. I got the Zelda one mostly to match.

My favorite game to play is convincing people that I hate Harry Potter, and winning at that way too easily. My favorite question is probably, ‘Do you like Harry Potter?’ … Several people have asked me if I’m in the Illuminati.

The one on my left arm is about … 0.6 millimeters skinner than the one on my right arm and it bugs me everyday, and I just want to claw my forearm off because it’s awful and I hate it.

For my Triforce tattoo, I have two other friends who have the same one, and … one of the pieces of the Triforce glows under UV light, and my other two friends … theirs — the other two pieces — glow under UV light also. … In a couple weeks, I’m actually going to have the word ‘lumos’ [under the Harry Potter tattoo] and get that to light up under UV.

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