My friend Gwyn’s tattoo

Gwyn is a friend and a former colleague of mine, who has left her inevitable indelible impression on me as she has on certainly all she meets. With an élan all out of proportion to her maybe 5’ height does Gwyn celebrate her passions: Karaoke, retro kitsch, proper grammar (once a culture reporter and then a TV journo, she’s now a journalism professor) and most of all, pork.

See, Gwyn’s the kind of girl who never met a slab of pig she didn’t dig. When we worked together at a newspaper, she’d frequently wax eloquent about her latest trek out to her favorite pig farm to but a whole frickin’ hog or her testing of a new carne adovada recipe feeding 40.  And bacon? Whoo, don’t even get her started!

At first, I figured much of the gushing was about irking the über-PC copy editor from whom getting a rise under the most benign circumstances was easily done. Certainly, some of the pork glorying was directed in this manner – the carnivorous Gwyn mixed with the ultra-vegetarian not at all – this is a woman who would be quoted as stating, “pork is the no. 1 joy of my world.”

Like millions unto millions of folks, Gwyn eventually got around to taking the plunge and capturing her passion in tattoo form. As unique as Gwyn herself, however, was the final result: A tattoo named “Retail Cuts of Pork.” Gwyn started tattoo designer Chris Partain (now with GalloNegro Tattoo in Albuquerque, New Mexico) off with the classic butcher’s chart illustrating the cuts of mort available on a hog. After Crhis’s tweaks, Gwyn was given a one-of-a-kind tattoo to encapsulate her fervor.

Since then, Gwyn’s tattoo’s notoriety has paralleled Gwyn’s. She made one newspaper listicle on food-themed tattoos entitled “The Kitchen Ink”, and a photo of the tat led another piece which involved her judging at a Des Moines barbeque cookoff. “Retail Cuts of Pork” has become famous enough to have made a top 10 list, too – though inexcusably a list of top 10 *bad* tattoos. Worse yet, the piece in question wasn’t even a proper article, simply a merging of 75 throwaway words serving as introduction followed by images of various sizes. Hell, I wouldn’t ‘link to it here even if I did have the URL handy.

WTF, proclaimed Gwyn on Facebook upon discovering the travesty, and we backed her up. Even the vegetarians among Gwyn’s FB friends rallied to her defense, but this was hardly necessary – not merely because Gwyn is the very picture of the tough ol’ broad, but because anyone who doesn’t understand the distinctive attraction of “Retail Cuts of Pork” just doesn’t understand tattooing.