IOWA CITY, IOWA – “It’s hard to be young and Orthodox,” explained Bartholomew (“the mad”) Zybek. “We aren’t supposed to act all cool and sullen, since the fruits of the Spirit are peace, love and joy. We have to love our neighbors, even when they act like toddlers on crack. We can’t get up to any hanky-panky before marriage. And we can’t smoke or get worldly tattoos, since our bodies are temples.
“But now, coolness is within our reach! My new tattoo parlor is the answer to our prayers. It’s filled with incense, Ancient Faith Radio is playing, and we say the Prayer of St Ephraim before beginning anything, so our sweet tats don’t make us vain or disdainful.”
He reached out his fists. “Check out my knuckles. This was my first try. I went for the popular ‘prison tat’ style.” His knuckles read “ICXC NIKA.” There were Russian-style crosses on his thumbs.
“I’m an iconographer by trade, so this past month I’ve been writing the most lovely icons on my wife. So far I’ve done her patron saint, Matrona, in a medallion between her shoulder blades, and I wrote an awe-inspiring six-winged cherubim on her right bicep.
“Maybe it’s because I got teased so much in school, but I really hope my tattoo parlor allows the Orthodox youth of today to feel cool and godly. Plus, with every tattoo this first month, I’m giving out free tix to a Mad Monks concert! How sweet is that?”
Copyright © 2010-2011 Brigid Strait. All Rights Reserved
This report filed by terce reporter Brigid Strait, and originally appeared on 19th Century Russia in October, 2010.