TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 452: Tattoos of Limitations

Misty files suit against her husband Scott. Scott started getting tattoos in his mid-30s and now has tattoos covering his upper arms. Scott has intentionally not told his parents about his tattoos. Misty thinks he should come clean but Scott wants to keep them a secret. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 452

Transcript

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse thorn

Welcome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I'm Bailiff Jesse Thorn. This week: "Tattoos of Limitations" (Statute of Limitations). Misty files suit against her husband Scott. Scott started getting tattoos in his mid-30s, and now has tattoos covering his upper arms. Scott has intentionally not told his parents about his tattoos. Misty thinks he should come clean. Scott wants to keep them a secret. Who's right? Who's wrong? Only one can decide.

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[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman enters the courtroom and presents an obscure cultural reference.

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[Door shuts.]

elliott kalan

[Singing] Livia, oh Livia, say have you met Livia? Livia the poisoning lady By tainting wine and food and figs She maintains control of her cardboard digs Livia, oh Livia, she's full of Invidia Livia the schemer of schemes Protecting Rome or so she claims She poisons, betrays, and rapist frames But how can she remember all of their names? It's not easy being Livia!

john

Bailiff Jesse Thorn, you may swear them in.

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[As Jesse speaks below: chairs scrape.]

jesse

Misty, Scott, please rise and raise your right hands. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God or whatever?

misty

Yes.

scott

I do.

jesse

Do you swear to abide by Judge John Hodgman's ruling, despite the fact that he made us listen to that caterwauling just now? [Scott laughs quietly.]

misty

Yes.

scott

Yes.

jesse

Judge Hodgman, you may proceed.

john

Jesse Thorn, you know who that was singing! Not me! You know what pot of feces you are stirring with that... slander! [Jesse laughs.] But to Misty and Scott—first of all, Misty and Scott, have a seat.

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[Chairs scrape.]

john

For an immediate summary judgment in one of yours' favors, can either of you name the piece of culture that not I but someone else sung, as I entered the courtroom? Misty, let's start with you.

misty

I'm gonna say... a old cartoon. Maybe Felix?

john

Mm-hm! Mm-hm! That's almost correct! [John and Jesse laugh.]

jesse

Yeah.

john

Very adept, very astute. I'm not saying it's wrong. But I will say it's more correct than guesses usually are.

misty

Okay.

john

What about you, Scott? Do you have a guess?

scott

[Laughs quietly.] Well, I had in my mind Fantasy Island because of the character Tattoo, but— [John bursts out laughing.] —that clearly is not that. Uh, yeah, maybe too obvious. So... it sounds like, you know, some song from a vaudeville show, maybe The Tattooed Lady or something.

john

Mm-hm.

scott

That's my guess.

john

Mm-hm. Also almost correct! All guesses are almost correct! [Misty chuckles.] But all of them are also wrong. The reason I'm so tickled by your guesses—and frankly aghast at Jesse's... characterization... [Jesse laughs.] ...is that is our Maximum Fun network label-mate, and I daresay friend, Elliott Kalan! One of the tri-hosts of the Flop House podcast, a very popular podcast here on the Maximum Fun network. Sometimes I pretend that they're our rivals, 'cause they do a little bit better than we do. But they're not our rivals, they're our friends! And if you don't know who Elliott Kalan is, and you don't know the Flop House podcast, you should take a listen to it. It's three friends—three smart, funny friends watch a terrible movie and then talk about it. Simple as can be. And Elliott Kalan used to be the head writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, when Jon Stewart was the host. And is a small man... who I think would be flattered by a comparison to Felix the Cat! It's apt! [Misty, Jesse, and Scott laugh.] He's a little bit of a mischief stirrer, for sure. And what he's known for on the Flop House podcast is making up songs on the fly. Now that tune—and this is where you were almost correct, Scott—that tune is actually a song called "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady." It was written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg for the 1939 Marx Brothers movie At the Circus. "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady" is essentially Groucho Marx's signature song, one of his signature songs.

john

But Elliott had written new lyrics to it, to reflect a character named Livia. A main character from the famous BBC mid-seventies miniseries about Ancient Rome called I, Claudius. And that was just a little preview of a little side hustle that Elliott and I have been doing and putting together. We recorded 12—actually 13—episodes of a very special Maximum Fun miniseries event called I, Podius, in which we watch and recap every episode of I, Claudius. So that's a little plug for something that's gonna happen, and I can tell the listeners now that I have been informed by our incredible producer Jordan Kauwling that I, Podius all 12 episodes will drop mid-February. Mid-February. All of them will drop at once. So you'll have all the time in the world to go see I, Claudius and follow along with us! So you're both—hey, Misty or Scott, you ever watch I, Claudius?

scott

Never.

misty

Never. Mm-mm.

john

You have any idea what I'm talking about?

scott

...No. [Laughs.]

john

"Nooo. No way, man!"

misty

No.

john

"I'm not an old man like you! I'm a young man with tattoos on my arms!" [The litigants laugh quietly.] I'm pre-judging you, and ordering you—sentencing you to watch I, Claudius. So you can listen to I, Podius, the podcast that we did about it! But meanwhile, let's hear this case! Misty, you bring this case against Scott. What is—what's your beef?

misty

Okay. So my husband has tattoos. He's an adult. And he has never told his parents.

john

Oh my goodness.

misty

And I want him to tell his parents.

jesse

Misty, when you say his parents, do you mean his mommy and his daddy? [Scott laughs.]

misty

His mommy and his daddy, yes. [John laughs.]

jesse

Thank you.

john

How adult are you, Scott?

scott

I'm 41.

john

Yeah, you're definitely a grown-up. It says here that you live in Atlanta, Georgia?

scott

We do. For two years now.

john

But based on the evidence you submitted—which we will get to in a moment—it would seem that you, Scott, and you, Misty, and I, John Hodgman, have met before. Is that correct?

misty

Yes, we did. We met in Charleston, West Virginia, and we saw you in Atlanta in November.

john

Oh, just recently! Jesse Thorn and I did the live Atlanta show.

scott

Yeah.

misty

Yes.

john

Nice to speak to you again! You sent in a nice photo of the three of us, with me signing a thing, and I was like "That's gotta be the West Virginia show!" 'Cause it was—[laughs] it was in the lobby of that museum. Right? The Museum of West Virginia.

scott

The Cultural Museum. And you were quite miffed that Misty didn't know who Patrick Stewart was.

john

...Now I'm miffed again! [The litigants laugh.] I'm double miffed!

misty

I was nervous.

john

Do you know who Patrick Stewart is now?

misty

Absolutely. [Laughs.]

john

How did you not know? How old are you, 12?

misty

[Laughing] Thirty-eight.

john

You're a grown-up, too!

misty

Yes. I knew who he was, just could not remember.

john

You know who's in I, Claudius?

misty

[Hesitantly] Patrick Stewart...?

john

Among many famous British character actors. Yeah, Patrick Stewart. Check it out. Check it out. You—I know you will! I ordered you to.

misty

Okay.

john

Well, nice to talk to you guys again! Now, Scott... tell me about your tattoos. Where are they, how many do you have, you're hiding them from your mommy and daddy, you gotta keep 'em on your bum, right? They're not gonna look there. [Scott laughs.] Not since you were 35 did they look there.

scott

Yeah. [The litigants chuckle.] So no, they are all on my—you know, basically my arms from my shoulder down to just the top of my elbow, both inside and out.

john

Oh!

scott

So I'd say I technically have... like, five. It started with one small one, and then added onto it, and started getting bigger pieces and incorporating smaller things into one thing. Kind of became a—you know, a midlife crisis obsession for me, I guess. [Chuckles.]

john

But you've barely wandered into midlife! You still have a year of youth left to you. [Scott laughs, John stifles laughter.] Maybe you're well past your midlife, I don't know. I hope you live a good long time, is my point. So you have like two half-sleeves of interlocking tattoos from each of your respective shoulders down to each of your respective elbows. Which is tricky, right? Because I'm presuming you're hiding these from your mommy and daddy by wearing, you know, long-sleeve shirts, but if you put on a T-shirt, they would see. Right?

scott

That's correct.

john

Yeah. You didn't plan this very well. Let's take a look at these things! Let's go to the evidence, let's take a look at these tattoos. What was the first one you got?

scott

So the very first one was basically a Celtic knot that was formed with bass and treble clefs. Because when I'm not doing my day job I'm a musician, and that's kind of my passion hobby.

john

Okay!

scott

And I don't know if that's represented in the evidence, but I added onto that.

john

Did you not see the evidence?

scott

I did, but I don't think I sent the individual very first tattoo. I think I sent you the larger one that has a microphone and the guitar neck, and in the middle of that is that, you know, Celtic knot that I referenced. Uh—

john

No, no, no, no, I could pick out what the—I know what a Celtic knot looks like, sir. I know what a treble clef and a bass clef look like as well. I got it. I see it right here, on your left arm!

jesse

I am looking at the evidence right now and I have to admit that I was ready to mock Scott's Celtic knot made out of bass and treble clefs, which is the dorkiest phrase I've ever heard in my life. But it looks pretty good!

scott

[Laughs.] Thank you.

john

Did you design it yourself, Scott?

scott

No, sadly. I found that design on the Internet, [laughs] and that was my very first tattoo.

john

Hey, if you wanna see all of Scott's tattoos, including his dorky Celtic knot, all of these photos of course are gonna be published on the Judge John Hodgman page at MaximumFun.org, as well as on our Instagram, which is @judgejohnhodgman. And then—so on your left shoulder and upper arm, you got the Celtic knot. You've got the microphone, an old-timey microphone.

scott

That's right.

john

You got a rose.

scott

Mm-hm.

john

You've got a lot of musical notes.

scott

Yes.

john

And some flowers and stuff. And it's mostly grays and blacks, with some red musical notes. And then on that other—on this other arm. [Exhales inquisitively.] Tell me about what you've got.

scott

Okay, so it's an owl. A colorful owl. And I got that basically in kind of celebration of getting my PhD. That's on the outer side. 'Cause owls are smart. [Chuckles.]

john

I'm looking at exhibit B—[laughs] and I woulda sworn this was a lobster. [Laughs.] And now you're gaslighting me telling me it's an owl?! I'm cycling through all of these things and I don't see an owl anywhere here! Exhibit C I see more sheet music and notes.

scott

Ah. Okay.

john

I don't see an owl anywhere! Why are you telling me this lobster's an owl?

scott

I am sorry, I was looking at the wrong photo. So now I am on track, and so yes. I grew up in Massachusetts, and my parents now live in Portland, Maine. And to celebrate my affinity for the area, I got this lobster and lighthouse to kind of represent where I've come from.

john

I wish the podcast could have preserved the look on my face as I looked at this lobster and you said "Yeah, it's an owl." [The litigants laugh.] It speaks directly to one of my weird and sort of most Stephen King-y horror story Maine experiences, which was when my wife and I were pregnant with our first child, we visited her dad in Maine, and were staying at her then-deceased grandmother's house. It was a dark, dark, silent night on the coast of Maine. And all of a sudden, [stifles laughter] I swear to you, we heard this sound outside: "AUGHHHH! AUGHHH-aughhhHH!" [Jesse and John laugh.] And like, I sat bolt upright! I was like "There's someone outside! There's some distressed weirdo man yelling outside." And I looked out the window, and I couldn't see anything. I went back to bed and then I heard it again. "AUGHHHH-AHHH!" [Laughs.] And I said "Should we wake up your dad?" and my wife was like "No, let's not wake him up. We'll just wait." And it finally went away, and the next morning I described the sound to my father-in-law. And I said "It was really disturbing and I think there was someone in distress out there," and he goes "Mm... it was probably an owl." [John and Jesse laugh.]

jesse

I love owls as a symbol of academic success, because they remind me of a joke from my friend Chris Fairbanks's act, where he says [stifling laughter] "Hey, nice mortarboard, owl, but I haven't seen you on campus all semester." [John and the litigants laugh.]

john

I know, they're notorious class-cutters, the owls. [Jesse laughs.] I'm looking through all these photos, I don't see a picture of one darn owl! Where you getting this—where is the owl?!

scott

I thought it was submitted for evidence, Judge. I apologize. [Laughs.]

john

No, but I do see a photo—speaking of mortarboards, here's exhibit... D, I guess. Scott and his father at Scott's doctoral hooding.

scott

That's correct.

john

And there you are! You're wearing a mortarboard.

scott

That's right. [Laughs.]

john

And there's your dad.

scott

Yep.

john

Your dad is so proud. And he's so happy. And he has no idea that you've been keeping a secret from him. [Misty laughs.] For how long? When did you get this—when'd you get this Celtic knot?

scott

Gosh, we're going on... probably eight years now? [Laughs.]

misty

Yeah.

john

Eight years, right!

scott

Eight years.

john

And for the past eight years you've been wearing long sleeves at all occasions! Hanging out with your dad, keeping this secret from him. And I guess you're pretty confident that he doesn't listen to any podcasts, right? [Chuckles.] 'Cause obviously—

scott

Yeah.

john

—this whole thing could be blown right now.

scott

It could be.

jesse

He only listens to Rogan, Your Honor. [John and Misty laugh.]

john

Yeah, does your dad listen to Rogan?

scott

That would be a hard no. [Laughs.]

jesse

He just... likes to get a variety of viewpoints.

john

Yeah, he's just a—he's a freethinker, right?

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah, exactly.

john

Yeah.

scott

He is an academic.

john

Does your daddy vape? [Jesse and Misty laugh.]

scott

He—that'd be a definite no as well. [Laughs.]

john

So it sounds like your dad's pretty straitlaced! He doesn't listen to Rogan, he doesn't vape. He's got a pretty narrow mind. [Jesse and John laugh.] Is this why you wanna hide these tattoos from him, or what? What's the reasoning?

scott

Yeah. I mean, basically my parents are, you know—I would say old-fashioned. But you know, and I—or conservative. However you wanna term it. But just kind of... Baby Boomers that came up, you know, hardscrabble life and made a good life for themselves, and seem to be very straitlaced with respect to, you know, societal norms. And they always tend to have a way to make mountains out of molehills, and I know that Misty can attest to this.

john

Mm-hm.

scott

You know, even the idea of talking about what's for dinner could create a awkward argument that would last an hour. So just the thought of having to tell them this big thing is scary. _[_Misty laughs.]

john

Misty, can you attest to a conversation about dinner turning into a big conversation that would last an hour?

misty

Dinner? Yes. But I think that they are both very open-minded, and they're quite liberal. And I think they would accept it. And now that we live in Atlanta, I have a feeling his parents—his dad—will be coming to visit. And Scott cannot wear long sleeves all the time. Plus I would like to visit them during the warmer months to get away from the Atlanta heat, and I would like for him to be comfortable visiting them in Maine in July or August. So I feel like if he just tells them, you know, ahead of time, give them a few months. Let 'em—let it sink in... they would be okay with it.

john

Misty, when you're visiting Scott's parents, what kind of things does Scott do to avoid letting his parents see his tattoos?

misty

He always has to wear long-sleeved T-shirts or button-up shirts.

john

Mm-hm.

misty

Going, you know, to the shower and from the shower, he has to make sure he's dressed. [Someone snorts, Misty chuckles.]

john

Mm-hm.

misty

He plans, he stresses about it. It's—conversation we have before, multiple times, about you know, "What am I gonna wear? Do I need to buy more baseball-length T-shirts? Like three-quarter–length sleeve shirts?" [Misty, Jesse, and John laugh.]

john

Yeah.

misty

"What's the weather gonna be?" It's a lot of preparation.

john

Jesse, I haven't seen those three-quarter–length baseball T-shirts out there for a long time. Are those in style or out of style currently?

jesse

Not even a little bit stylish. [The litigants and John laugh.] You pretty much have to go to like—not just to a sporting goods store, but to what I would call a dusty sporting goods store? [Misty laughs quietly.]

john

Uh-huh?

jesse

To get them. One where there's like—all the shirts have like a line of soil from the neckline to the shoulder line, just from not having been moved on the rack in 15 years.

john

When I was in high school, shopping at The Gap, those were big. I feel like they came around the same time boxer briefs came around.

jesse

Totally. [Someone laughs quietly.]

john

Where the whole thing was like "Let's make everything just a little bit longer." [Laughs.]

jesse

Yeah. [Laughs.]

john

"Little bit longer all around. Longer tubes!" [Both laugh.] "Longer tubes up top, longer tubes down below!" How many of these dumb T-shirts do you own, Scott? [The litigants laugh.]

scott

I would probably say maybe four or five that I've bought specifically for this, you know... purpose.

jesse

Scott, how long do you usually stay with your parents? When this situation was described to me, I immediately imagined visiting parents for a few hours at a time. But if you're staying at their home, how long are we talking about?

scott

It's usually four days, five days.

misty

'Cause that's all the shirts he has. [Scott, Jesse, and John laugh.]

john

Then you run outta shirts and you get outta Portland?

scott

I guess so. No, the—I didn't make that connection 'til just now, but—that was not intentional. Yeah, usually long weekends.

john

Mm-hm.

scott

You know, we lived in West Virginia for a time. We moved here for my dad—or moved to West Virginia for my dad's job as an academic. When he retired they promptly went back to Portland, Maine. And so we would have to visit them to see them. My dad would occasionally come back and visit us while we were in West Virginia, but not as often. So we would—you know, the onus was on us to go see them. And of course I wanna see them. But at the same time I'm avoiding this conflict, and you know... preparing as needed to do so. [Laughs quietly.]

jesse

Let's take a quick recess. We'll be back in just a moment on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

The Judge John Hodgman podcast is of course always supported by the members of MaximumFun.org. All the folks who go to MaximumFun.org/join and join us in paying for this program. We also have a sponsor this week... Dashlane!

john

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jesse

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jesse

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john

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jesse

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john

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jesse

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john

[Laughs quietly.] Yeah, maybe, uh—I don't know, maybe you can boot up your old Zune! Will Dashlane work with that? Probably not.

jesse

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john

Look. All of the devices that exist today, [laughs] and are not antiques— [Jesse laughs.] —will support and are supported by Dashlane! You can safely send your passwords and your secure notes. You can share your streaming passwords with your family. You can send coworkers access codes. You can let visitors know your wifi password. Anything you want and more! Start Dashing through the Internet, and help support this show by visiting www.Dashlane.com/hodgman to start your 30-day free trial of Dashlane. No credit card is required. If you like it, use code JJH at checkout to save 25% on your premium subscription! Jesse, do you know why it's called Dashlane?

jesse

Why is that?

john

'Cause that's what it's called! [Jesse laughs.] Dashlane! [Stifling laughter] That's what it's called.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Rhythmic percussion and bass. Speaker 1: I listen to Bullseye because Jesse always has really good questions. Jesse Thorn: What did John Malkovich wear when he was 20? Speaker 2: [Laughs.] I don’t know how to describe it! Speaker 3: There’s always that moment where Jesse asks a question that the person he’s interviewing has not thought of before? Speaker 4: I don’t think anyone’s ever said that to me or acknowledged that to me and that is so real! Jesse Thorn: Bullseye! Interviews with creators you love and creators you need to know. From MaximumFun.org and NPR.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Court is back in session! Let's return to the courtroom for more justice. Scott, there's a picture of you in the evidence performing with your band, which appears to be called The Dial Up? Is that correct?

scott

That's correct.

jesse

It's a great name. You're wearing what look like canvas sneakers, maybe a Van style canvas sneakers. You're wearing jean shorts, and you're wearing what appears to be a sleeveless Super Mario Brothers T-shirt. Two questions: number one, is this intended to be Jordan Morris cosplay? [The litigants and John laugh, Jesse stifles laughter.] Or is it just purely a coincidence that you're dressed exactly like the co-host of my show Jordan, Jesse, Go!? And the second question is how often are you wearing fully sleeveless shirts to show off your ink?

scott

I guess to answer the first question, if it helps my chances, this was completely intentional. [Jesse laughs.] I was just trying to evoke a nineties vibe. They're—the sleeveless shirt is a byproduct of living in Atlanta, [chuckles] where it's very hot for a long period of time. So I would say during the summer months I would tend to wear that kind of a shirt, you know, more often than not if I'm going out in a casual, you know, weekend environment.

john

And may I presume to evoke the nineties vibe, your—the band, The Dial Up, is a pop ska band?

scott

[Laughs.] Kind of an every band, you know, every genre the nineties, you know—not just nineties. Nineties mostly, but... you know. Late eighties to early 2000s era, as it were.

john

Mm-hm! Is it a cover band or do you do orig?

scott

It's a cover band, yeah. It's a lot of fun.

john

What's your favorite song to perform?

scott

Oh my goodness. There's so many. You know, anything that's maybe right now by, you know, the Foo Fighters. That seems to be very popular. I like what makes people react.

john

You're really rocking out here, and you look—I think you look great.

scott

Thank you.

john

And I think you also look great in your doctoral robes. You look great both exposed and all covered up. What is your doctorate in?

scott

Education sciences.

john

Lying-to-parent–ology?

scott

Yeah. [The litigants laugh.]

john

Mm-hm? What?

scott

That was my minor. [Laughs.] Administration, basically. Education administration.

john

Oh, okay, great! And are you working in that field now?

scott

Yeah, I'm actually—well, kind of. I'm a contracting officer at a major research university here in Atlanta.

john

It's within your field, right?

scott

Pretty much, yeah! I basically help faculty with grants and contracts.

john

You're living your life, but you're keeping something hidden from your dad. You've fully embraced all of your interests, both academic administration—[laughs] and nineties rock! [The litigants laugh.] And you're wearing that ink proudly on your arms for everyone else in the world but your mom and dad, who I'm sure are very pr—they're proud of you, right?

scott

I—I think so, yeah.

misty

Absolutely.

john

So let me ask you this, Scott. Do you have evidence, in your experience, that your mom and dad don't like tattoos, or think that they simply make you look like a nineties scuzzy indie rocker that is who you are in your heart?

jesse

[Stifling laughter] Perhaps a member of the legendary indie rock band the Foo Fighters. [The litigants laugh.]

john

Have they expressed disapproval of tattoos?

scott

I mean, in a roundabout way, yes. I mean have they specifically, you know, pointedly said, you know, "People with tattoos, you know, are all going to Hell and they're awful people," no. But I have heard... you know, general conversation about, you know, social status, social class, and people with tattoos. You know, particularly with my—you know, my brother, as well as my parents. But it's not just that. It's any of these, you know—[sighs] social—and I struggle to bring this up, but when I was in college, [stifles laughter] my mother found a condom in my pocket and she screamed like someone had died. [John laughs.] And you know, that whole experience was so gut-wrenching for me— _[_Misty laughs, Scott stifles laughter.] —that it's now ruined me for any other kind of awkward conversations with my parents.

john

Listen, if you're a kid listening to this podcast, ask your mom, dad, or guardian what Scott's talking about. I'm—I'm not gonna describe it to you. But you were so embarrassed—have you just avoided all potentially... awkward conversations or revelations with your parents? Did you—do they know that you're married to Misty? [Laughs.]

misty

And may I say one thing? His parents know that I have a tattoo. I had that before we ever met.

john

Oh!

misty

And they know about it.

john

Ah-ha! So the plot thickens! What's your tattoo? A Celtic knot of a bass clef and a treble clef? What a coincidence.

misty

Unfortunately my tattoo's not as great as Scott's. I got it when I was 21. It's a butterfly.

john

Mm-hm.

misty

It's on my back.

john

Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

misty

And his parents have always known that I've had it. Unless Scott's never told me, they've never judged me!

john

Scott, have your parents ever taken you aside— [John and Scott and/or Misty laugh.] —and said "Misty seems like a nice girl but she's got the most cliched tattoo possible on her body and you can't marry her"? [Misty laughs.]

scott

She failed to mention the Chinese symbol.

misty

Yeah...

scott

Which is even more cliche, I would argue.

john

What's the Chinese symbol? I'm—oh, I'm afraid to ask. [The litigants laugh.]

misty

It's "love." It's a Chinese symbol for love. So I'm told. Um— [Misty and John laugh, possibly also Scott and/or Jesse.]

john

[Laughing] Are you sure?

misty

I was 21. [Laughs.]

john

No, I know! I know. Tattoos are a record of our bad judgment and poor taste!

misty

That's true!

john

That we wear with us forever!

misty

I agree. But Scott waited 'til he was in his 30s to get his, and he made good decisions.

scott

But my parents have never judged Misty for her tattoo. That's for sure.

john

Right! Misty's wonderful. What do you do down there in Atlanta, Misty?

misty

Oh, thank you! I work—I'm a nurse.

john

That's incredible.

misty

Thank you.

john

You're allowed to have any dumb tattoo you want if you're a nurse.

misty

I agree. Thank you. [Scott laughs.]

john

There are two issues here, Scott. And I'm sure you've considered both of them. One is whether your parents will—you know, will have an opinion about the basic idea of you having a tattoo. Or in this case, many tattoos. And two, what are they gonna say when they realize that you've had the tattoos for eight years? And you've kept it hidden all that time. But now you've got eight years of deception that you've gotta—have to explain to them. Does that factor into your decision-making, Scott?

scott

I hadn't thought of it in that context. To me it's more of just, I guess, protecting them from any—you know, any—being upset or being aggravated. They've had a rough year with health issues. My dad's had some health issues, but he's doing better now. But the last thing I wanna do is bring unnecessary strife to their lives. They've retired, they're trying to live their best lives now, you know. I feel like it's unnecessary to, you know, burden them with this when what they don't know doesn't hurt them.

john

Misty, does that make sense to you?

misty

I don't think that they would be stressed. I think that they would accept it. Yeah, I don't think they'd be stressed at all. His mom is very artistic. I think that she would be proud of him. I think that she would like them. Like—she would like the tattoos. No, I disagree.

john

You think, but you don't know.

misty

Well, no. But I'm pretty certain that they would rather their son be happy and comfortable and not sweating with a long-sleeve T-shirt on. [Scott laughs.] And plus, if his dad comes to visit us in Atlanta during the warm months, there's no way he's gonna be able to hide this.

john

What was your dad's position? What did he study?

scott

So he was a biochemist when he retired. He was the senior associate dean for research at a medical school.

john

So when did he retire, again?

scott

2004

misty

'14.

scott

'14, I'm sorry. 2014.

john

That's a long time ago now. They're settled in Portland.

scott

Mm-hm.

john

This has been a hard year, you say? Like, is there a time when... conceive of revealing this to them? When things settle down and whatever's going on with their health issues?

scott

Now that there's distance between us, you know, just, yeah, visiting them maybe twice a year. You know, again, I'm not—we're not seeing them a ton of times, and I don't feel like it—me doing what I do to conceal the fact that I have tattoos, I don't think it diminishes the time we spend together. It doesn't—certainly doesn't diminish, you know, my love for them. I feel like it's, you know, protecting any—again, undue stress. So I don't feel like it's, you know, watering down the experience. If that makes sense.

john

Does anyone else know about your tattoos in your family?

scott

My older brother does. And I only told him because I was goaded by my wife to do so, and... [laughs].

misty

And he accepted. And if he would accept them, I know Scott's parents would.

john

Why, what's your older brother all about?

scott

He's—he's an interesting fella. He dances to the beat to his own drum. You know, he's a wonderful, interesting, colorful guy. You know, says what he thinks and thinks what he says. I definitely was scared to tell him bec—

john

Definitely sounds like someone who wouldn't be into tattoos or Joe Rogan. [Laughs.]

scott

He isn't, though! You know, you—you know, I say that, but at the same time I have heard him audibly, you know, make condescending comment to a barista at a coffee shop 'cause they had a neck tattoo, and he kind of implied that maybe his coffee was now unclean because somebody with a neck tattoo had served it to him. So, you know, again, he's an enigma.

john

Let me say this about that: booo. [Scott laughs.]

misty

I agree.

scott

I agree as well.

john

That's rude, and mean.

misty

That is. And the fact that he accepted, I feel like Scott's parents would be definitely okay with it. They would never say anything like that.

john

Did you talk to your brother about whether—about the fact that you've been hiding them from your mom and dad, and did he have an opinion on it?

scott

[Sighs.] He, you know, kind of just... was like "Well, if that's what you wanna do..." I did think—I do remember him implying "Well, Mom and Dad are not gonna be happy about that! They definitely won't approve of it." But that was really as far as it went. I didn't want to get too in-depth in the conversation, because again it was awkward for me, so... we kind of—you know, just kind of glossed over it after the fact, and you know, now it's really a non-issue between us. So—and we don't really talk about it anymore. He's used to them now, so...

john

When did you reveal this to him?

misty

About 2015 or '16.

scott

Okay.

misty

Yeah.

scott

She's probably correct, yeah.

john

Yeah. A long time ago. He's had this power over you this whole time. Don't you realize what a blackmail opportunity—this is kompromat!

misty

I agree.

john

This is fraternal kompromat! Do you have a good relationship with him?

scott

I do. We get along pretty well.

john

He could blow you up pretty quick.

scott

Yes. [Laughs.]

john

Has he ever threatened to? Threatened to tell?

scott

Thankfully no. No. But that was a fear of mine.

john

Hm. Have you ever—Misty, have you ever encouraged your brother-in-law to just spill the beans and... have you—or have you ever felt like just calling up your mother-in-law and father-in-law and just going like "Guys, you gotta know this." [Misty laughs.] "Scott's got a bunch of tattoos."

misty

Yeah, Scott's gotta tell his parents. I think he should just text them a photo, or... have 'em listen to the podcast... [The litigants laugh.]

john

Yeah. "Can you handle it, Pops?" [The litigants laugh.] Scott, surely you have thought about telling them in the past, right?

scott

Yeah. Yeah, I have. I have.

john

If you had to tell them—say, because your brother was blackmailing you, or say, a podcast told you to— [Scott and/or Misty laughs.] —what would be the scenario that you envision? Would you sit 'em both down? Would you get like a breakaway shirt? [The litigants laugh.]

scott

I don't think I'd be that dramatic. I would like to do it in person, you know, just because I... think that that would be a good thing to do. Or maybe—I don't know! You know, now I'm second-guessing it. Maybe—maybe over text is the way to do it! [Laughs.]

john

Pretend I'm your pops. Do a little roleplay with me. I'm your dad, and you're visiting me in Portland. And your mom's here too, and we're just cutting up vegetables in the kitchen, like they do in movies when they show families. And you're—you just decide you gotta tell me. Because a podcast told you to or your brother's blackmailing you. Say the words you would say, and the—but—and however you would say it. And just end it with "Can you handle it, Pops?" That's all I ask. [The litigants laugh.]

scott

Okay. Um, okay. I'll give it a shot.

john

_[_Weird voice] "Well, son, how are you doing today? It's good to—I'm glad you're visiting me here in Portland. This is a Massachusetts accent that I'm using."

scott

[Laughs.] Okay. "So Dad, Mom, there's something I wanna tell you. Don't freak out, 'cause it's nothing serious. It's nothing bad. Everybody's healthy, everybody's fine, but I've been keeping something from you for a long time, and I wanna fess up and be honest." I guess at that point I would roll up my sleeves and say "I for the last several years have been getting some tattoos, and here they are. It doesn't change who I am. I've been very successful in life, been doing very well in Atlanta. I have my advanced degree. I'm happily married. We want for nothing, and I'm still the same son that you've known all your life, but I just wanted you to know, and the reason I didn't tell you is because I was afraid you would be disappointed. And that fear of disappointment from your parents I guess never goes away, even when you're 41. So please don't be mad, I love you, I have tattoos. Can you handle that, Pops?"

john

"Uhhh—I thank you for your honesty. While I respect your right to live your life however you wish, please know that you are now officially disowned." [John and Scott laugh.] "And I only have one son now. Your brother." [Scott laughs.] "You may leave." [John, Scott, and Misty laugh.] It seems unlikely that he would say that. I don't know what he would say. I mean, that's the thing. We don't know. But how did you feel when you were saying that? To me. Faking it. Even in a fakey way.

scott

Eh. I mean, if I'm being honest, I felt okay about it. You know. Felt maybe—you know, a little cathartic. Because you know, it's a double-edged sword, you know, I am 41, [stifles laughter] and I can do what I want and I've had a good life, and I've done well for myself. But on the other point, as I've said, the fear of disappointing your parents never goes away from you. No matter how old you are. So I'm still holding on to that. [Stifling laughter] Your mock response did nothing to quell those fears.

john

I appreciate the fear of losing parental approval, but have they ever disapproved of stuff that you—in your past? Choices that you made? Has that affected your life?

scott

You know, only, you know, poor choices. Again, you know, the product of being a young, dumb kid getting in trouble. Doing stupid stuff, you know, whether it was... you know, driving around with my friends, you know, lighting off firecrackers and—in front of people's houses or something. You know, dumb kid prank things. But not since I think I've been a bonafide adult have I done anything to disappoint them.

john

Well, you said that it's a double-edged sword. And I just wanted to say, before I go into my chambers, that... a double-edged sword would be a cool tattoo. [John and Scott laugh.] To have right down your spine. Think about it. [Misty laughs.] If I were to rule in your favor, Scott... never reveal. Always conceal, never reveal. [Someone laughs quietly.] Correct?

scott

Yes! That would be—that would be good.

john

And Misty, if I were to rule in your favor it's gonna be reveal as soon as possible.

misty

Yes.

john

How does this affect your life, Misty? Because we do try to hear disputes where the other party is wronged in some way. Are you being wronged in some way?

misty

Yeah. Scott really stresses over this every time we prepare to go visit them. You know, he's gotta figure out his clothes, and it's always gotta be during the cooler months. I see a day that his dad comes to visit us, and it's June, July, or August in Atlanta, and Scott is stressing.

john

And Scott's wearing a turtleneck.

misty

Yep. [Scott laughs.]

john

A big, chunky turtleneck 'cause he got a neck tattoo just to piss off his older bro. I gotcha. Alright. I think I've heard everything I need to in order to make my decision. I'm gonna go into this tattoo parlor and have my verdict tattooed onto my chest. Upside-down, so I can read it. I'll be back in a moment.

sound effect

[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

jesse

Misty, how do you feel about your chances here?

misty

I don't know. Not too confident. I think he's gonna make Scott continue to live in—live his lies.

jesse

[Laughs.] Why's that?

misty

To protect his parents. I could be wrong, but I could see him siding with Scott and say "Hey, you've done this for this long. Keep it up."

jesse

Scott, your parents have dealt with you for a long time. Do they need protecting?

scott

I mean, in general, no. But do I want to save them from unnecessary aggravation? Absolutely. [Laughs.] And maybe in myself at the same time. [Laughs.]

jesse

Do you need protecting?

scott

Probably, yeah. [Laughs.]

jesse

How do you feel about your chances?

scott

Strangely enough, I feel equally as un-confident as Misty does. I feel like the verdict is leaning her way. So we'll see! [Stifling laughter] But yeah, I'm not feeling too good either.

jesse

Well, we'll see what Judge John Hodgman has to say about this. Hopefully everyone will lose! [One of the litigants laughs.] When we come back in just a second on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Mid-tempo, upbeat music. Jo Firestone: Hi, I'm Jo Firestone. Manolo Moreno: And I'm Manolo Moreno. Jo: And we're the hosts of Dr. Gameshow, which is a podcast where we play games submitted by listeners, regardless of quality or content, with in-studio guests and callers from all over the world! Manolo: And you can win a custom magnet. Jo: A custom magnet! Manolo: Subscribe now to make sure you get our next episode. Jo: What's an example of a game, Manolo? Manolo: "Pokémon or Medication?" Jo: How do you play that? Manolo: You have to guess if something's a Pokémon name—

promo

[Next two lines overlapping] Jo: Or medication? Manolo: —or a medication. Manolo: First-time listener, if you want to listen to episode highlights and also know how to participate, follow Dr. Gameshow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Jo: We'd love to hear from you! Manolo: Yeah, it's really fun! Jo: For the whole family! We'll be every other Wednesday starting March 13th, and we're coming to MAX FUN! Manolo: Snorlax. Jo: Pokémon? Manolo: Yes. Jo: Nice!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Judge Hodgman, we're taking a break from the case. What have you got upcoming?

john

It's early February, and guess what's coming up soon? I, Podius! The very special podcast miniseries recorded by... I, John Hodgman, of the Judge John Hodgman podcast; and he, Elliott Kalan, of the Flop House podcast; and produced by our friend Jordan Kauwling. It's a whole podcast about one of my very favorite pieces of culture, the 1976 BBC miniseries I, Claudius, starring Patrick Stewart with hair, and all of your very favorite British character actors when they were younger and hairier. It's such a great work of art, and—I'm talking about the TV show, [stifles laughter] and I daresay the podcast is fun, too! So this would be a good time to start planning out to watch I, Claudius and then listen to each episode of I, Podius as it comes out, or enjoy it in whatever way you like. We put a lot of—well, I wouldn't call it work. We put a lot of fun into it, and I think you're gonna get a lot of fun out of it. So take a listen if you will. Keep an eye on everywhere you get your podcasts, and MaximumFun.org of course, for I, Podius. And a special shout-out to Adam "Apelad" Koford for probably suggesting that name, I, Podius! I don't remember where I got the idea, but I know he Tweeted it at me at some point. And he's wonderful and he actually contributes a great letter to the show. So that's what I've got going on! What about you, Jesse Thorn?

jesse

Folks have been asking me how they can watch I, Claudius ahead of the debut of the podcast, or along with the podcast. It is of course available for digital purchase download on various platforms. It is also available, among other places, on Hoopla. Which is a streaming platform that is available to a lot of people with library cards. Somewhere between a lot and most here in the United States. I want to mention that on my podcast and NPR radio program Bullseye, which is an arts and culture interview show that you should be listening to if you don't already, we have some really great guests that have just been on the show and are upcoming on the show. Just talked to the great Greta Gerwig, who was—who is nominated for two Oscars, should be nominated for three or more.

john

For sure!

jesse

For her brilliant film Little Women. The amazing Joe Pera, who co-created and is the star of my favorite show on TV right now, Joe Pera Talks with You, which is a beautiful Northern Midwestern pastoral comedy infotainment that is as elegant and hilarious and loving as anything I've ever seen on TV. Oh, I love it so much. I love it so much. And Joe is really great. Plus, next week on the show, John...

john

Yeah?

jesse

Steve Buscemi. [John exclaims.] And a certain Mr. Huey Lewis.

john

Ohhh! What a powerful episode of Bullseye that shall be!

jesse

Yeah. So go get Bullseye! Open your—go take your phone outta your pocket right now! Subscribe to Bullseye. You deserve it.

john

If you're listening to this and you hear about this episode, Steve Buscemi and Huey Lewis, and you're like "Hm, that sounds like a missable episode," that's where I step up in your face and go "No, opposite! That's un-missable!"

jesse

[Laughs.] And everyone who listens to this show knows that I have my own vintage and antique store called The Put This On Shop at PutThisOnShop.com.

john

Yeah.

jesse

It is a spinoff from my menswear site, Put This On. And it doesn't just sell vintage clothes! In fact it sells relatively few vintage clothes. Mostly other items. And you know, it's after holidays clearance time. I decided—I made a code for 25% off anything in the store just for Judge John Hodgman listeners, just this week. So go to PutThisOnShop.com and use the code MEGAJUSTICE. MEGAJUSTICE.

john

MEGAJUSTICE.

jesse

MEGAJUSTICE at PutThisOnShop.com will get you 25% off anything. in. the. store. I'm talking about—what about solid gold items?! Yeah! I'm giving you the discount!

john

That's worth its weight in gold!

jesse

Exactly.

john

Jesse, you mentioned Bullseye, an incredible podcast and radio show here on the Maximum Fun network. I forgot to mention something that I just did with another Maximum Fun friend. Speaking of Joe Pera, his colleague Jo Firestone co-hosts a podcast called Dr. Gameshow with Manolo Moreno, and I just guested on Dr. Gameshow, and the episode has not come out yet. So this is a great time to go check out the back catalogue and to subscribe. 'Cause this show is so much fun! And I've heard it and I've enjoyed it, but we had such a great time playing made-up gameshow games by listeners, and playing them with people who called in. It was so much fun.

jesse

Yeah, and a family-friendly show that you can listen to with your kids in the car!

john

Completely.

jesse

As long as your kids enjoy madcap madness.

john

Yeah. It's great. And I had such a great time.

jesse

It's a gameshow where the listeners provide the games, and they play them whether they make sense or not.

john

So I just wanted to thank Jo and Manolo for having me by, and everyone should take a listen to it.

jesse

Let's get back to the case!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

sound effect

[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman re-enters the courtroom and presents his verdict.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

john

Before I present my verdict, Bailiff Jesse Thorn, may I guide your attention to one last piece of evidence?

jesse

Sure.

john

It is the photo labeled number 9, at the bottom of the evidence.

jesse

[Stifling laughter] Mm-hm.

john

It's a cat drinking a glass of wine. [John and Jesse laugh.]

jesse

Yeah, white wine, specifically. Maybe a Chablis?

john

Whose cat is that, Misty?

misty

That is our cat Butters. He is 15 years old.

john

Wow! He looks really good for 15!

misty

He is, he's quite spry.

john

Looks like he's got some extra toes. He's lifting his paw up to grab this rather massive glass of... [Misty laughs.] ...of Chardonnay here. [Laughs.] Does he have extra toes, or is that just a blur in the photo?

misty

No, he does not have extra toes. It does look like it in the photo. But no, he's got his paws open wide. [Laughs.]

scott

For the wine.

john

Yeah. He wants that wine! I just needed to show Jesse that photo. And now I'm going to judge you. "The liar has many friends, and leads an existence of great loneliness." You know who said that, Scott?

scott

I don't.

john

The poet and essayist Adrienne Rich. From On Lies, Secrets, and Silence. I was introduced to this book by my wife, and we bandy about a paraphrase of Adrienne Rich, which is "We lie when our own truth isn't good enough." And that's heavy, right? That's heavy. You've been keeping a lie for a looong time. And as Adrienne Rich says, lying is done with words and also with silence. And I get it! You're a good boy. I was a good boy. I followed all the rules. I didn't have an older brother to compensate for. But because I was an only child, and just because of who I am cursed to be, because of the way my brain operates, I felt a very heavy burden to be—follow the rules and be really, really, really, really, really good, and no trouble at all for my parents. And that changed when I turned, you know, 18, 19, and I was away in college. And I decided "I don't wanna be a good boy anymore! I wanna be a bad boy. I wanna get into some scrapes and some adventures." And one of the scrapes and adventures I got into was to drive to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and get a tattoo on my shoulder of a diamond. Why a diamond? Well, of course, it represents the repeated figure of the diamond that shows up in the short story Death and the Compass by Jorge Luis Borges. Because, like everybody, I chose my tattoo based on a loathsome affectation. A pretentious love for Latin American literature, in my case. [Stifles laughter.] It was my version of a Celtic knot of bass clefs and treble clefs! I don't remember how I told my parents that I had this thing. But I told 'em pretty quick! Because even though I was a bad boy, getting a tattoo on my shoulder of this highly pretentious short story reference, I was also still a good boy and I didn't wanna hide something from them. You know? But it's funny, I don't have a memory of saying it to them or showing it to them. Not a specific memory. I do have a memory, once I got started, that I wanted to get more tattoos. That I wanted to build a whole sleeve around this diamond on my shoulder. And specifically I wanted to get a tattoo of a chili pepper, 'cause it was 1990. [John and one or both litigants laugh.]

jesse

Wait, did you wanna get a tattoo of a red hot chili pepper?

john

I wanted to get a tattoo of a hot chili pepper! And it was probably going to be red! But it was not going to be a Red Hot Chili Pepper tattoo. Not for the band, but for my love of spicy foods! [Stifles laughter.] I was also gonna get the words "Bad baby" tattooed on my arm. In Spanish. 'Cause I was learning Spanish at the time. And then I decided—I think it was "Malo nen—" I couldn't get the translation right. Thankfully I couldn't, and I put a pause on that plan. Because that would have become—what was already a fairly embarrassing-looking, small, almost prison-style tattoo, would turn into one of the great cliches of the 1990s. I saved myself. I'm glad that I never had to reveal that to my parents. But would I have? I bet I would have. So 33-year-old, late-blooming bad boy. You're like "I'm gonna get this Celtic knot. I don't care who sees it! Except for my mommy and daddy. They can never see it." [Stifles laughter.] A weeeird interplay of rebellion and refusal to rebel, in this. And you kept doing it. In quiet. In silence. Lying with silence rather than with words. Building a life for yourself with Misty, with your rock and roll, with your academics. Becoming a full human adult making decisions for yourself, but keeping this hidden for now almost a decade. Adrienne Rich says in lying to others, we end up lying to ourselves. We deny the importance of an event or a person, and thus deprive ourselves of a part of our lives. We lose faith even within our own lives. It was a bad decision for you to not tell your parents about your tattoos. I understand why you did it—because you were scared of them being disapproving.

john

This whole stuff about like, you wanted to save them aggravation, I think that probably you've convinced yourself that that's true. As you expressed, when you sort of did your roleplay talking to your dad about how you've succeeded in life, and you've not failed, and therefore it's okay that you have a tattoo. You're not just some... crustpunk ska band guy. You actually are Dr. Scott. A successful adult man, moving swiftly into middle age. I thought it was interesting how quickly you said "Oh, I'm middle-aged now." And 41—I mean, take it from me. I also thought I was middle-aged when I was 35. [John and Scott laugh quietly.] I'm like you. I throw myself ahead in years and yearn for the grave. [Scott laughs.] But you're young. You deserve to be young. You deserve to make mistakes. You deserve to be your own person. And I know that you know that you deserve the unconditional love and affection of your mom and dad, which you enjoy, and I'm pretty sure... they would not withhold that love and affection, even if they hated that Celtic knot like nothing else in the world. 'Cause they—'cause they're you! And you made a mistake by not telling them, and you've compounded that mistake. And I understand why. It just happened, day after day, year after year, of wearing long sleeves. And you've compounded that mistake to now the point that you have a double confession to make. One, you have tattoos. Which like, who cares? I mean, look around you. Everyone in the world's got a tattoo. You know, there's nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about by expressing your own taste and your own personhood right there. [Laughs quietly.] You're literally, or quasi-literally, wearing your knot on your sleeve. You're showing your thing to the world, but you're hiding it from your mom and dad, and you've been hiding it for eight years. And I can only imagine that this is corrosive emotionally, never mind annoying to Misty.

john

I think you owe it to yourself to clear this air. 'Cause I don't think it's gonna be... [stifles laughter] as bad as you think it's gonna be. That said... I don't know! Could be terrible! [Everyone laughs.] My wife and I bandied about this, you know, "One only lies when the truth isn't good enough" with regard to a hard email that we had to write some people that we know, just to explain, you know, where our limits were. We were like "This might be a little hurtful to them, but if we couch it the right way and express our truth, surely they'll understand." Oh, they did not. They did not. And it caused them a lot of pain, and they—it turns out they're very unhappy with us. But that's—that's okay, too. 'Cause now we know. Now we know what the truth is. So yeah. I mean, I don't know what else to say. Scott, you've laid a double trap for yourself. But you have to show them your "Big bad baby" tattoo, and let them know: Scott's a bad baby. Not just a good boy! Also a bad baby. "Look at that! He's got a microphone! Got a lobster! It's got an owl! He contains multitudes! It's written on his skin!" And the fact is, Scott, I don't think anybody who goes to Portland to retire is gonna be mad that their son has a tattoo of a lobster on their arm. So the question is, how do you wanna do it, Scott? Do you wanna tell 'em yourself? Or do you want me to call them up? [The litigants laugh.]

scott

[Laughing] Oh, god. I should probably tell them myself. I—I don't know if they... would appreciate the whimsy of having John Hodgman do it. [Laughs.] As awesome as it would be for us, I do need to consider their feelings. [Laughs.]

john

Clearly they're not fans, or—because you are so confident in coming on this podcast and telling your stuff to the world, knowing they will never, ever listen to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. [The litigants laugh quietly.] But the truth is that maybe on some level, you're like a serial killer in the movies! You wanna be caught! Because the fact is, your brother knows. You're putting this out on the podcast.

scott

Yeah...

john

And your mom found that condom! [The litigants laugh.] That wasn't by accident, Scott! Even if it was, accidents will happen. A time will come when your brother's gonna spill the beans, or I'll be up there in Portland just telling every older couple I know that their son has a tattoo. [The litigants laugh.] Or you're gonna be visiting, and you know, your bathrobe's gonna slip off by accident or whatever. I don't know how a T-shirt would fall off exactly, but—[laughs] they'll—you know, your mom might walk into the bathroom while you're putting your shirt on or whatever, and see it, and then it's like, uh-oh, you got some 'splaining to do! I think it's time to get out ahead of this. So obviously, I'm finding in Misty's favor. And Scott... even though your parents hate Judge John Hodgman[Scott laughs.]

misty

Aw!

john

—so much that they would never listen to it... I'm gonna arm you—you can use this or not. I'm gonna give you this recording to play. What are their names?

scott

Richard and Elaine.

john

Richard, Elaine, this is John Hodgman. I used to be on television sometimes. I'm an author, comedian, performer, and a podcaster as well. I've got a podcast called Judge John Hodgman, and your son Scott and his wife Misty came to me with a dilemma. And that dilemma was whether or not to reveal to you that Scott has tattoos. Not on one arm: two arms! All of his arms. Shoulder down to his elbow. He's been very self-conscious about this for a long, long time. Because he is afraid that you will dislike the tattoos, and you will confuse the things that adorn his skin with the person that he is, and that you will dislike him. Now, look. I know that you love Scott. I'll tell you something else: I love Scott! This guy's a good guy! You raised a good son! Look, he's a doctor of whatever he's a doctor of! He's got an incredible wife, Misty, who's a nurse. I hope that he's revealed to you that he's also a rock star in a cover band. Or else he's been hiding more stuff from you than I thought. You love Scott! And the truth is, we all love Maine. [Laughs quietly.] We all have this in common, so I'm saying this to you: as someone who visits Maine, to someone who is retired to Maine, let Scott know. That he is more than what he wears on his skin, and you see him for much more than that. As parents, you've seen Scott wear all kinds of terrible clothes that you didn't approve of! That he doesn't remember that, but that you hated. And you still loved him! So I am not telling you anything that I'm sure you wouldn't tell him. But just in case, I'm letting you know that I—a person who used to be on television and now is mostly a podcaster and a writer—I believe in Scott and I know he's great. So I am now ordering Scott, as he sits in front of you playing this recording, to lift up his sleeves. And I'll just close this by saying... Can you handle it, Pops? This is the sound of a gavel.

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[Tattoo gun buzzing.]

john

Judge John Hodgman rules, that is all.

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[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.

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[Door shuts.]

jesse

Scott! Can you handle it, Pops? [The litigants laugh.]

scott

You know? I think I can. Yeah. It's—it's time. I have nothing to be ashamed of. It's only my own fear holding me back at this point, I'm sure. So... bandaid will be ripped, in some form or fashion. Maybe I just hand them my phone with the podcast and run. [Laughs.]

jesse

It's either gonna be ripped off by this podcast, or by the fact that you can no longer find a sporting goods store with enough dead stock softball shirts— [Jesse and the litigants laugh.] —to keep covering your arms past the elbow! Misty, how are you feeling?

misty

I feel great. [Laughs.] I think Scott's gonna feel a lot better after he tells them. And it will make visits with them so much more comfortable.

jesse

Are you gonna feel better, too?

misty

Oh, absolutely! Absolutely. He'll—Scott will be a lot more comfortable. And I'm... that will just make me happy.

jesse

Do you have a favorite place, Misty, that you could take Scott in Maine if his parents need an hour or two to get over it?

misty

[Laughs.] Oh, for sure. Any of the breweries. [Misty and Jesse laugh.]

jesse

With his—with his fellow, uh, half-sleeve Super Mario shirt dads. [Misty and Jesse laugh again.]

misty

Yes.

jesse

Misty, Scott, thank you for joining us on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Another Judge John Hodgman case—kapow!—in the books. That's the sound of the books closing after we put the case in there.

john

[Laughs.] I thought that was Lightning McQueen!

jesse

[Laughs.] Before we dispense some Swift Justice, our thanks to Doug Wykstra for naming this week's episode, "Tattoos of Limitations." If you want to name a future episode, "like" Judge John Hodgman on Facebook. We regularly put out our calls for submissions there. You too could have your name potentially mispronounced by me on the Judge John Hodgman podcast! Follow us on Twitter at @JesseThorn and @hodgman. Hashtag your Judge John Hodgman Tweets #JJHo. Check out the Maximum Fun subreddit at MaximumFun.Reddit.com to chat about this episode. We're also on Instagram at @judgejohnhodgman, where you can see the picture of that boozy kitty cat. Make sure to follow us there for evidence and other fun stuff, like the picture of that boozy kitty cat. This week's episode recorded by Lexie at Rich Productions. It was produced by Hannah Smith, and edited by Jesus Ambrosio. Special thanks to Jennifer Marmor for sitting in! She's here for a picture, she's almost back.

john

Yaaay!

jesse

Love her, we're happy to see her. Now let's get to Swift Justice, where we answer your small disputes with a quick judgment. Lola says: "My husband likes to tell tales and amusing lies. When I see people believing one of his fibs, I can't help saying 'He's lying.' Is that so wrong?"

john

[Laughs.] Hoo! Talk about creeps! Look, it may seem hypocritical for a person who wrote maybe exactly 1,000 pages of fake facts and baldfaced lies in my books The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That Is All, to say this is a bad practice. But yeah, it's terrible! Don't lie to people's faces! If you're not writing a book or doing a comedy show, don't say fake things and trick people. In general. I mean, maybe one or two misdirections. But mostly that kind of joking is mean. And so I would say no. I would say what Adrienne Rich says: Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler for the liar than it really is or ought to be. It doesn't exactly track with the situation. [Stifles laughter.] But I—it was the only Adrienne Rich quote I had left that I hadn't already read.

jesse

[Laughs.] That's it for this week's Judge John Hodgman podcast. Submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho or email hodgman@maximumfun.org. No case is too small. We'll see you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

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A cheerful guitar chord.

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

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—audience supported.

About the show

Have your pressing issues decided by Famous Minor Television Personality John Hodgman, Certified Judge. If you’d like John Hodgman to solve your pressing issue, please contact us HERE.

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