If there was a tattoo ink that disappeared after exactly one year, what tattoo would you get today?
It would be an image of a corn plant, or an ear of corn. And a wolf.
Let me back up. Fourteen years (holy fuck). I was in college. Bored, nerdy, and spending five hours two or three nights a week in the res hall computer lab as a lab monitor. Basically, I got paid to sit around and surf the web. Eventually, I ended up in an online, text-based role playing game. You actually logged into it via telnet, or a command line client. It was early days in the internet, yet. At any one time, two or three hundred people would be logged in, role playing, chatting, doing nothing, whatever. It passed the time. Here’s the twist; in this game, we were all animals. Y’know. Balto. Or Scrooge McDuck. Or Rats of NIMH. Or any number of Disney movies featuring talking, anthropomorphic animals.
I decided to be a wolf.
I ended up being on this game for years. I met bunches of these weird online people in person, and turned online friendships into ‘real friendships’ (as if they weren’t real already). My friends knew I was studying agriculture/in the agriculture business, and I honestly don’t know who hung this nickname on me first. I’m pretty sure I didn’t come up with it. But eventually, I was no longer a wolf. I was a cornwuff. Wuff being slang for wolf (wuff, woof, ect.). Somehow, that silly term has stuck with me to the point where it is my Twitter username.
When I’m asked by people I know professionally on Twitter why cornwuff, there’s actually a wikipedia entry I can cite that doesn’t make me sound completely like a geek. Or maybe it makes me more of one, not sure:
[...] This conception is common in France, Germany, and Slavonic countries. Thus, when the wind sets the corn in wave-like motion the peasants often say, “The Wolf is going over, or through, the corn,” “the Rye-wolf is rushing over the field,” “the Wolf is in the corn,” “the mad Dog is in the corn,” “the big Dog is there.” When children wish to go into the corn-fields to pluck ears or gather the blue corn-flowers, they are warned not to do so, for “the big Dog sits in the corn,” or “the Wolf sits in the corn, and will tear you in pieces,” “the Wolf will eat you.” The wolf against whom the children are warned is not a common wolf, for he is often spoken of as the Corn-wolf, Rye-wolf, or the like; thus they say, “The Rye-wolf will come and eat you up, children,” “the Rye-wolf will carry you off,” and so forth. Still he has all the outward appearance of a wolf. For in the neighbourhood of Feilenhof (East Prussia), when a wolf was seen running through a field, the peasants used to watch whether he carried his tail in the air or dragged it on the ground. If he dragged it on the ground, they went after him, and thanked him for bringing them a blessing, and even set tit-bits before him. But if he carried his tail high, they cursed him and tried to kill him. Here the wolf is the corn-spirit whose fertilising power is in his tail. (Wikipedia)
So I can be the cornwolf (wuff). And if I ever had something tattoed on me, it would have to involve wolves and corn. There’s actually little pieces of artwork floating around the house that I’ve gotten as gifts or bought over the years from artist friends. My wife gave me a little statuette of a wolf with an ear of corn in his mouth that she commissioned. None that would really work as a tattoo design, so something new would have to be created. The cornwuff has been a bit of my identity for over a decade, so it seems only appropriate.