“You have to look at the card for a few seconds before you see that the animals that pull the chariot have neither reins nor bridles. It’s the Captain James T. Kirk card, the card of leaping before looking, of burned bridges and uncovered asses. The card of thinking you know what’s going on when you don’t. As a message for the reader, it was ambiguous.”
If almost anyone in my social network sent me a text that said, “I just hit myself in the face!” I’d respond with something like, “Oh, no! Are you hurt? How did this happen?” However, when I receive the same message from my Misfits brother Tony, I’m like, “Good job, but you honestly don’t have to tell me every time you pleasure yourself.”
It was Tony who talked me into joining the Misfits in the first place, and over the course of our friendship, we’ve coerced each other into any number of misadventures: For example, I once forced him to go on a meditative labyrinth walk, and in return, he tricked me into qualifying for IML. As I recently told a co-worker, “Every atrocious decision I’ve made since 2015 somehow involves him.”
Tony currently lives in San Francisco, but he surprised me with a visit this weekend. And we’ve been euphorically reminiscing about our many escapades, the majority of which left lasting impressions on both of us.
My favorite, though, left permanent scars.
It all went down several years ago, when Tony launched himself on a mission to come up with a concept for his next tattoo. After a few days of research, he emailed me to show off the runic design he’d selected to have etched on his bicep.
“Isn’t it amazing?!” he wrote. “It’s simple, clean and meaningful. Perfect.”
Tony’s glee is always infectious, but something about the rune he’d picked was niggling at me. The runes themselves are decidedly not my forte, as I tend to shy away from anything occult I can’t pronounce, but seeing as how I have the entire Internet at my disposal, I poked around and quickly found a name and description.
Thurisaz. “Thorn.” Conflict, destruction, violent aggression, raping and pillaging, generalized stabbiness, and male sexuality. Or, as Tony saw it,
conflict, destruction, violent aggression, raping and pillaging, generalized stabbiness and MALE SEXUALITY (-ALITY -Ality -ality…).
In an attempt to distract him with metaphysics until I could figure out a nice way to throw rocks at his joy, I was all, “Hey, that reminds me of the geomantic figure Rubeus.” To which Tony responded, “Brother! You should get that as a tattoo when I get mine!” While I appreciated the invitation, I was about as likely to get a tattoo of Rubeus as I was to have the word “republican” branded on my forehead. What I was likely to do was have a controlled meltdown over his identification with Thurisaz, but only because I fundamentally disagreed with his interpretation, and I’m never, ever wrong about anything.
Tony is fascinated by the supernatural but has only cursory knowledge of it, which made it difficult to loudly condemn his determination to stamp what I saw as the runic equivalent of a “Kick Me” sign on himself. Fortunately, he saved me the trouble by unwittingly pointing out what a dickhead I can be about these things.
Shortly after his first message, Tony wrote back to express some newfound reservations. He’d been tooling around online, looking for good Thurisaz pics to show his tattoo artist, when he came across some explanations of the rune that were less than glowy.
“I want it to be the right symbol for me, but there are a lot of really dark meanings here,” he said, his disappointment palpable even in sans-serif font. “What do you think? Should I get it?”
Tony may be a big, burly conglomeration of brotein, but he’s also, without a doubt, the most affable person I’ve ever known. He has no enemies — everyone is a friend until they prove otherwise, and if they do so, he wishes them the best and moves on without grudge or resentment. He is trusting and honest, and he trusts me to always be honest with him.
So I responded to his question as honestly as I could:
“I think it’s awesome that you see the good in everything.”
In the end, Tony got his Thurisaz, and I agreed to get a stylized Puer, which signifies male sexuality in all its expressions (the phallus, the sword, the plow… the ink-filled needle) while being far less incendiary than Rubeus. Additionally, it represents Aries, the first sign of the astrological year, making it the ideal start to what will (eventually) become an armband featuring all 16 figures.
Much like the Chariot, Puer speaks of jumping to conclusions; of shooting first, asking questions later, and setting aside collected wisdom in favor of immaturity; of losing your shit over your best friend’s choice of body art without stopping to consider how capable he is of making his own decisions, or getting a tattoo on the spur of the moment, because hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
And you know what? It totally was.