Tattoos are unique and personal pieces of art, so it makes sense that a person might consider preserving the tattoos of a deceased loved one as a memorial. Now science has made it possible for tattoo fans to have their ink removed after death and preserved so that their descendants can hold on to their memory — and their skin — forever.
The National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art allows tattooed iconoclasts to have their ink preserved as the most personal of family heirlooms. That is both sweet and creepy, but it also offers nigh limitless potential for messing with one’s great-great-grandchildren.
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Here are just a few of the ways you can use your preserved tattoo to prank your descendants from beyond the grave.
1. Fake a treasure map
You could get a tattoo of a treasure map leading to someplace completely random. Nobody would get a totally meaningless map tattooed on them, right? In future generations, fortune-hunting descendants are virtually guaranteed to follow the map wherever your preserved remnant of skin tells them to go. Someplace like Kuala Lumpur might be nice.
2. Leave behind a foreboding family curse
“Whoever throws away or sells this tattoo to goth kids on Craigslist will be cursed for seven generations.” Just wait and see who has the guts to finally risk it.
3. Hint at royal bloodlines
Why is there a framed piece of human skin with a mysterious purple crown tattooed on it? Was great-great-Grandma the Grand Duchess Anastasia? Or maybe great-great-great-Grandpa was Louis XVII? Nobody would ever guess that great-Grandma is just pranking you from beyond the grave.
4. Puzzle them with ancient codes
To start with, you’re going to need to learn Egyptian hieroglyphics. Then you’re going to need to get yourself a cool tattoo and make arrangements for it to be preserved and framed after you die. Then you just wait for some intrepid, intelligent descendant to devote herself to the study of hieroglyphics just to decode your message. After three doctorates and a chair in Egyptology at Oxford, she will finally be forced to admit that the secret family message you left said: “Deez Nuts!”
5. Bind an “ancient” tome
Harvard University’s rare books collection has at least one old tome bound in human skin. Your family should clearly be as fancy as Harvard, so go ahead and have your favorite book bound up in your own tattooed skin. Harry Potter seems like a good choice, but if you really want to make a tome all your descendants will treasure through their weird teenage goth phases, pick an old classic, like one by Aleister Crowley. Or just go with Mother Goose, and creep everyone out even more than they would have been already.
6. Worst. Cookbook. Ever.
Tattoo yourself with old family recipes. Pick something rich and decadent, like ortolan or beef bourguignon, though, because nothing will ruin a plate of chocolate chip cookies like having to get the recipe off someone’s desiccated butt cheek.
7. Leave shockingly accurate prophecies
Have yourself tattooed with very specific prophecies that are virtually guaranteed to be true for at least a few of your descendants. “And lo, a child of this house will marry a person named Michael!” “This family will welcome the arrival of a child with brown eyes, and that child will be the chosen one!” Then leave one in there about the Cubs winning the World Series.
8. Put the Wi-Fi password on it
Then they’ll have to keep it.