I tattooed Unlce Mark when he first turned 18.
He and his surf pals came in and started to get some work too.
Not sure how the "Uncle" part came to be since I'm old enough to be his dad.
We hit it off right away.
One of the most hilarious, hard charging, hard working guys ever.
Reminded me of myself at that age.
I always worried about him since that shit can get you killed too.
Although we didn't hang out all that often, it was always an adventure when we did.
In between tattoo sessions we would often go surfing or out on the town.
Drinks and naked chicks.
It was always cool.
I could call him up and say " lets surf".
We would finish up work, load the Death Van, and off we'd go.
Four in the afternoon.
Always wondered what the hell people were thinking sitting in all that traffic, stressed out.
This kid knew how to live.
His way or the highway.
Didn't matter that we had to be at work the next day.
So many trips ended in me winding up at work just in time to start tattooing.
Covered in salt water and sand.
Did some of my best work that way.
I often tell the tells of our surf adventures.
What the hell do Ukalalie's, women's shoes, potted plants and various bad oil paintings of Clipper Ships have to do with anything.
Not to mention, 40 lbs. of ham and a sunken rowboat....
One night, Mark and the crew and I head out to pull some dawn patrol at our surf spot.
We arrive at the local watering hole.
Yeah, we aren't from around here.
Its not like we are looking for a fight, but hey....
We are putting the drinks away as fast as they can pour them.
The only person in the place that likes us is the bartender.
And everybody else's girlfriends.
Great fucking recipe.
We don't give a shit about these guys and if their girlfriends need some excitement,
were are here to help.
Roll into your town, drink all your liquor, surf your waves, and bail with your chicks.
All of us.
After all these years we still aren't welcome in some of those places.
Anyway, I cruise early.
Got a busy day lined up and want to get the most out of my morning.
A full schedule of work awaits me at 10 am.
I head to the camp spot without the crew.
Expecting them to follow in a couple hours.
Not too worried.
These guys can handle the locals without me this time.
Sometime in the middle of the night, morning actually, I realize they haven't made it back from town.
Well, they are probably at one of the girl's houses or in jail.
Safe either way.
Its almost dawn by now.
I hear Uncle Marks huge diesel van roaring up the fire road.
Bouncing off trees.
Taking out a few rural mail boxes along the way.
They pull up.
I can hear them giggling like little girls and unloading stuff from the van.
For like an hour.
What the fuck?
I let it go and try to get every bit of sleep I can.
Eventually, I crawl out of the truck.
The nights events begin to tell their story.
There is, no shit, 20-25 huge potted plants strewn about the campsite.
Big hanging ones.
Looking into the van, I can see more carnage.
There are half a dozen women's shoes.
The ship ones.
A couple of dining room tables.
A hula girl figurine.
And four guys.
I open the sliding door to the van.
Smells like beer.
Maybe some blood and definitely some barf.
There looks to be some underwear that definitely ( hopefully ) doesn't belong to them.
The boys have done a good nights work.
I try to wake them by pulling the truck right up to their heads and laying on the horn.
Are they breathing?
Well, looks like its a solo gig this morning.
I hit the waves, launch back into work and wait for the damage report.
It read like this.
Uncle Mark and the crew got kicked out of the bar for harassing the locals.
Seems they were just trying to be nice to the ladies.
Good so far.
They head down the way to the next unsuspecting town.
Barge another establishment and get nixed for the same shenanigans.
Bouncer fucks up by not escorting them all the way out.
The lobby of that place never stood a chance.
Chairs, tables, paintings, etc.
Payment for denying the pirates of some fun.
By now, most everything is closed down.
So Uncle Mark, and only he would come up with this, climbs on top of the van.
One of the crew pilots the rig.
One by one he removes the hanging potted plants that line Main Street from the light posts.
Mark grabs one, hands it down to one of the crew working the open side door.
They cleaned that place out.
Captain Morgan has come to Surf City mother fuckers!
Im not sure where the girls panties and shoes came from but I'm sure there are broken hearts in that town.
The boys have done me proud.
Uncle Mark has been a great friend for a long time.
Done well in his business.
Grew up a bit.
Not too much, but I don't worry about him these days.
Can't say the same for one of the crew though.
Sadly, he never made it.
Sometimes you live too hard.
And it gets taken back.
The price is high.
We all know it.
Some of us are just lucky.
Its the only way to explain it, but we still to this day miss our friend.
But the adventures never stopped and we sure as fuck never stopped living even though we got a bit smarter about it.
The wedding ( in which case you should never invite us if you were even thinking about it ).
The " where are you going with that ham ".
And the rowboat that would never be the same.
Maybe that'll be a good Christmas story...