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Published September 29, 2008

I am approaching 30 and have never been in anything that amounts to much more than a scuffle at any point in my life. Most men would look at this as a form of cowardice, or more graphically, pussydom. But not me, I consider it a point of pride. In part because if I didn’t I’d just end up making endless fun of myself for being a “pussy”, in part because dry cleaning blood is expensive, and in part because much of my lack of physical altercations is owed less to a resistance to confrontation and more to an ability to maneuver myself out of physical confrontations.

In high school this avoidance was easy as very rarely did I function in a world where adults weren’t around. By that I mean I spent all of my free time with my parents. So if you’d wanted to pick a fight with me when I was 17 you’d had to have gone out of your way to drive to my house and interrupt my masturbating. College, however, was different. Not only were there social situations without my parents, I was actually participating in them. But social situations = potential beat-downs (college terminology of course, not a term I’d ever use now) so I decided to buy myself an insurance plan, I got a tattoo of Ernest Hemingway on my arm. I learned quickly this would have a been an intimidating move if I was involved in confrontations involving New Yorker writers or particularly erudite ASU Sigma Pi’s. I was not. The Hemingway tattoo is great if you want to authoritatively end an argument on why “Where I’m Calling From” is Raymond Carver’s best short story. It’s not quite as effective when answering the question “Hey faggot, why are your hands on my girlfriend’s ass?” I’ve realized retrospectively I had the right idea but the wrong tattoo. Protection can still come in the form an upper arm inking, but not when it’s the visage of a drunken old writer. Only one tattoo can save you, one that screams chaos and recidivism, the logo of the Oakland Raiders.

The Oakland Raiders tattoo is an intelligent option because not only is it intimidating, it’s also pragmatic. If you live in California 80% of the fights you get in will inevitably involve Raider fans anyway. What better way to dispel that tension than flashing your arm and telling your adversary “I may not have your same fondness for methamphetamines and black denim but I to miss Lyle Alzado.” More importantly Raiders fans can smell a fight three cities over. Some elitist confronting you in line before a showing of “the Drowsy Chaperone?” Pull up that shirt sleeve and watch the Bat-Signal like effect of the silver and black as hordes in Otis Sistrunk jerseys quickly manifest from as far as Hayward and Hawthorne.

Wait, you may ask, won’t a Raider tattoo affect my current career and/or future attempts to find other jobs/avoid police contact? Valid question, which is why I suggest you get the tattoo on your bicep, problem solved unless you spend a majority of your time shirtless and/or in a wife beater, in which case you probably already have a Raider tattoo anyway.

Now admittedly I am a Raider fan. I live in Sacramento and my family is from Oakland. I own a Jim Plunkett throwback. But this is less about fandom and more about general self preservation. A Raiders tattoo all but insures personal safety.

Unless, of course, you’re in attendance at an actual Raider game, in that case you’re…well…fucked no matter what.

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