I LOVE MEN
One of the more humorous tattoo-related stories of 2003 starred a man who needed heart bypass surgery, which involves transplanting a vein from the leg to use as a conduit in the chest. If a tattoo is cut through during surgery, there is no guarantee it will be the same afterwards, both due to the scarring obscuring the tattoo, parts of the tattoo being physically removed, as well as edges not matching up properly.
Pictured below is the abovementioned patient who went in for the procedure at Leeds General in the UK. His old leg tattoo used to read "I LOVE WOMEN", but now, after the surgery, it has been damaged somewhat and reads "I LOVE MEN". He claims he is now too embarrassed to wear shorts.
Before and after images
Tattoo meaning mistakes like this are far from uncommon, and the ones that involve artist error are part of the humorous end of body art folklore. An interviewee in Modern Primitives recounts the skinhead who'd wanted "OI!" tattooed on their forehead but instead received "OIL". Ryan Ouellette wrote us to add:
A guy came into my shop one day asking about cover-ups. His English was a bit weak (he was Spanish speaking). What I got was that he had a tattoo done on his chest by another guy who wasn't so good with English either, and he had asked the guy to tattoo his nickname "crazy boy" on his chest. Since neither one of them spoke fluent English (and he wanted "muchacho loco" in English), the grammar was a bit off. I asked to see the tattoo to get a better idea of what he needed done to it and he had a big heart on his chest that read "BOY CRAZY".