Chinese symbol tattoos are still super popular among people in the western world, who love the gorgeous, intricate lettering.
However, the number of us who can actually read Chinese is much smaller, leading to many a joke being played on an unsuspecting tattoo shop customer.
Hilariously, one bold man decided to dodge the stereotype of the ‘peace’ or ‘love’ Chinese tattoo.
Indeed, Cody Williams from Milwaukie, Oregon opted for a much more unusual tat altogether…
Strolling into a tattoo parlour at the tender age of 19, Cody asked for a tattoo which would read – in Chinese – ‘I do not know, I do not speak Chinese’.
Speaking with UNILAD, Cody explained how this was his first tattoo – although he had been after one for a long while – and he wanted to put some thought into it.
However, while many a first timer would opt for an inspirational quote or a sweetheart’s name, Cody instead wanted to express his unique sense of humour.
Cody told UNILAD:
I’ve always been a bit of a comedian and have had stand-up comedy on my to-do list for a while now.
I knew I wanted something that really represented what I am at heart (a comedian) and I’ve always loved the way Chinese symbols and tribal tattoos looked.
Despite his love for Chinese symbols, Cody is tired of how generic and standard they have become, and decided to shake things up a bit.
According to Cody, he was inspired by some of the clangers non-Chinese-speaking tattoo lovers have made:
I remember reading about someone that had thought they had gotten a tattoo that they believed said ‘courage’ on their back, only to be informed that it really meant ‘noodles’.
That’s when I thought it would be hilarious to have a tattoo that literally said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t speak Chinese’.
Unlike Noodles Man, Cody put some thorough research into his tattoo planning process, enlisting the help of a Chinese co-worker – who thought his idea was hysterical.
According to Cody, he couldn’t be happier with his one-of-a-kind ink:
I did put a lot of thought into the tattoo, and sat on the idea for about a solid year before deciding I was going to go through with it.
I believe it will only get funnier with age as I become a dad and grandfather messing with my future children/grandchildren.
3 years later I’m still in love with my tattoo, and have even had water color added to it yesterday!
my mum just told us she'd get a tattoo in chinese that says chicken foo yung so that she can just lift her arm up to order a meal iM DEAD
— rachel (@queencobraswift) November 5, 2017
When he’s out and about, the tattoo can cause some confusion, and Cody sometimes has to repeat the translation five times before a person realises there’s some sort of joke afoot.
Cody recalled one particular incident which led to a new colleague getting seriously disgruntled:
I remember one time about a month after I got it, I was working at a restaurant at the time and this new girl that had just started a couple days ago noticed the tattoo on my arm and asked what it said.
Of course I couldn’t miss this golden opportunity to mess with the new girl. So I looked at her and said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t speak Chinese.’
One of my coworkers and friend Kenny was standing next to me and heard me responding, and this stupid grin came on his face as he pretended not to hear and continued working.
She then frowned at me and said, ‘you don’t know what your tattoo means?!?!’ (Kenny started laughing a little)
Me: ‘no, I know what it says.’ Her: ‘well than what does it say???’ Me: ‘I don’t know, I don’t speak Chinese!’
This continued to go back and forth for a solid minute or two. All the while my coworker Kenny starts openly laughing at us harder and harder until his face is literally turning a dark shade of red and tears are going down his face.
Things began to escalate before Cody was able to explain the humorous pun:
After another minute of this going back and forth she finally has had enough and tells me , ‘go f*ck yourself!’ and storms away angrily.
Kenny then started laughing so hard he was having trouble standing and had to hold onto the side of a counter.
I then decided I had better explain it to her before she started hating me, and proceeded to chase after her to tell her the pun. (I do this to people every chance I get).
— TeeGift (@TeeGiftstore) November 5, 2017
Going forward, Cody hasn’t ruled out the possibility of getting another funny tattoo:
I honestly want another tattoo, but I kind of want another funny one to add to my collection ha ha.
Was thinking about getting an Arabic one that says, ‘leave me alone and mind your own business’ on my other arm (no I’m not kidding).
However I still need time to think about that one, and besides good tattoos aren’t cheap. Who knows, one day I might literally be a walking joke.
With so many people taking their ink super seriously, it’s refreshing to find a guy like Cody who can have fun with his body art while remaining completely unperturbed by the judgements of others.
He should be careful about who he translates his potential ‘leave me alone and mind your own business’ tat to though…
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.