Saturday, June 16, 2012

MST3K: The Tattoo

I can't remember if I've talked you guys about how much I love Mystery Science Theater 3000 but if I have, you're getting a healthy dose of repetition.

I wrote out this whole story for Chantilly's tattoo giveaway back in March, so I'm just copying it back here to avoid having to write it all because I suck at writing lately:

When I was 13 or 14 I started watching a TV show called "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (abbreviated MST3K). The basic premise of the show is that a man (named Joel, and later a different guy named Mike). is shot up into space and forced to watch terrible B-movies  He creates two robots to watch the movies with him, so you get to watch the movie and listen to their commentary. It's kind of a cult classic thing but I loved it.


At age 16 I started dating my first boyfriend who I met through a mutual friend's band. I was hanging out with my boyfriend and two of his friends, and I asked if any of them had ever seen Mystery Science Theater 3000. One of his friends, Rob, perked up his head and looked at me, and told me that he had watched that show with his dad since he was a kid. That friend would later become my boyfriend and now my husband. He later told me that that was the first moment he thought that he thought that I might be more interesting than many awkward 16-year-old self portrayed.

Young and in love, MST3K was our go-to show to watch together. We quoted jokes, bought each other volumes, and, truthfully, would put it on the TV so we could make out without our parents knowing. A few months before Rob turned 19, he left for Georgia to begin his army enlistment. We had only been together for about a year and a half but this move totally changed everything. I started to find that whenever I was sad, MST3K was the only thing that cheered me up. I didn't even have to be watching it intently, it just had to be on or I started to feel a little...unmoored, I guess. I left for college and my vast collection of MST3K episodes followed. I got everyone in my dorm (including my roommate) into watching it and I'm not sure much else graced our television in our tiny dorm room.

In October of 2006, Rob, who had chosen one of the most dangerous jobs in the Army, left for Iraq during one of the most dangerous times in the war. Within the first month and a half he was injured when a sniper's bullet meant for his neck missed its mark and ricocheted off of a pole into his arm. To make matters worse, we frequently would go 2-3 weeks at time without talking or emailing due to his grueling schedule and frequent communication shut-downs. At the time I was attending a very liberal college and encountered many people who seemed to look at the idea of a soldier boyfriend with disdain. A few even asked me if he killed civilians. Those that weren't outrightly hostile were just confused, and didn't know how to tolerate my seemingly-random bouts of crying or periods of frustration. The only thing that would make me feel better after a day of trying to forget that he was in danger or how alone I felt was--you guessed it--MST3k. I watched the same episodes over and over again and always felt closer to Rob, no matter how far away he was.


In late January 2007, while Rob was still in Iraq, I traveled to Moscow, Russia. When I arrived into my room after a 10-hour flight, and this is an absolutely true story, the first thing I did was search for an outlet so I could plug in my laptop and watch MST3K. When I couldn't find one, due to exhaustion and frustration, I burst into tears and called every family member I had. I was deeply, deeply homesick and anxious. I even went to the building manager and asked in halted Russian where my razetka (outlet) was. It's funny to me now but I actually had to look up the word for outlet having never used it before; it's still scrawled in pencil in my Russian dictionary. Anyway, I was pretty inconsolable until the next day, when a housekeeper barged into my room, mistook me for a boy, then showed me where to find the razetka--right behind my desk. From that point on whenever we weren't out doing something, or if I knew Rob wouldn't call me for a few weeks, I'd pop in one of the few MST3K episodes I had with me. When Rob informed me that his deployment was getting extended from 12 to 15 months, I cried a little a lot, settled in with a few MST3K episodes and just felt right again.

Now, almost 10 years after that first MST3K bonding moment, and 4 years after Rob finished his enlistment, we still watch at least one to two episodes per week. Last night (I wrote this in March but this is still true - we watch one every night) we popped in an episode that we've probably seen 150 times, but we laughed again together as though it was brand new to us. To this day it's just about my favorite thing to do on a quiet night together. Rob recently accepted a position as a wildland firefighter, meaning that he'll be gone for most of the summer fighting forest fires. As you can imagine, I'm already anticipating a lot of nights curled in my bed with our dog, Cypress, watching my favorite MST3K episodes.

This is a really long story so I'll sum it up. The idea of an MST3K tattoo (specifically of the two robots, Crow and Servo), commemorating the memories and strength I associate with this particular TV show, has floated around in my head for years, though for some reason it has yet to come to fruition. Now that Rob is out of the Army and we are moving on with a new chapter in our lives, I think it's finally time. I think that this giveaway is the perfect reason to get it.


Well I didn't win the giveaway, but writing out the story reminded me of how much I wanted this tattoo and of how much it meant to me.  Believe me, I know it's silly to be so attached to a television show but if anyone would do it it's weird little me.

I went to Albuquerque on Thursday evening to start this tattoo with the amazing Gina from Star Tattoo and I'm already in love with it.  It's in a more visible spot than I would've planned, but the stencil looked great there and it just felt right.  I really wanted to share this story with you guys because I'm just so excited to have finally moved forward with this and I love sharing these parts of my life with you.

I'm not one of those people that insist on tattoos "meaning something" or having some deep significance. Often getting an awesome design you love is enough of a meaning for me. But this one is really special and I'm just so fucking happy about it.

I promise to post a photo once it's done in a few weeks.

Also I can't fucking write lately, and for that I apologize.

1 comment:

  1. I love it. Im going to have to watch that show, I've never heard of it or seen it, but your story is beautiful and it's also majorly romantic. Oh and your tattoo, what I've seen of it so far, is so awesome!

    Christian and I share a bond over Slipknot of all things, so I'm planning a Slipknot tattoo :))))


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