Earlier this week, Ben Garrett of OMSpirit published a photo gallery of Ole Miss football’s Monday spring practice. Take a look at it! As you scroll through the various photos of players in pads and helmets conducting myriad football-related activities, suspending your disbelief for a moment over Ole Miss still maintaining a football program, we would kindly ask that you direct your attention to one particular photo from the gallery, its final one. This photo, in and of itself, is not particularly remarkable. It’s merely a photo of a partially obscured Charles Wiley, standing, hands-on-hips, seemingly between a pair of more football-y moments.
That is to say, he’s just sorta standing there.
But, as it is with Vecchio’s “Madonna and Child,” oftentimes the most innocuous of images provide us, the beholder, with a single, incidental, unintentional focal point that enables a discussion -- a debate even — well beyond what was intended by the artist. But instead of discussing the prospects of extraterrestrial visits to Renaissance-era Italy, we are now fixated on whatever the hell this tattoo is:
Let’s get a closer look:
We have some questions:
Who is this cat?
Pun very much intended, we ask this because we presume that this is the visage of some sort of fictional cat. We presume this because it is our inclination to assume that we a) are not hip to whatever cool things college undergraduates are into these days and b) a cat wearing an eye patch and a bow tie is almost certainly based on some sort of work of fiction.
Perhaps it’s a from a cartoon. Or perhaps it’s from a comic book? Maybe it’s an icon used, in a fashion similar to that of the Playboy Bunny icon, as a marker for a publication or the work of a given artist.
We were quite stumped by this, and remain so after an exhaustive four or five minutes or research:
While a well-executed concept of a pirate cat is also good enough for a tattoo of its own, that is clearly not what Charles Wiley has on his abdomen.
Why this cat?
This question would certainly be easier to answer if we knew the answer to our first question, but do consider that few tattoos are the result of accidents, and almost all of them have some sort of deliberation behind them. Although the author of this piece maintains an ink-free dermis, if he were to have a tattoo of some sort, he would maintain a sort of meaning or memory to associate with the tattoo. A heart with “MOM” scrawled across it demonstrates love for one’s mother. A cross is an outward expression of one’s faith. A confederate flag is an easy way to spot and be spotted by your fellow racists. And so on and so forth.
But a cat wearing a bow tie and an eye patch? That’s a stumper. Especially when considering the other tattoos visible in this photo — an Egyptian ankh and a quotation of some sort, perhaps from the Bible — are fairly common among athletes.
If it is of Wiley’s own design, does it have a name?
We think cats should have names.
Why are his eyes closed?
Unless this cat is costumed for some sort of occasion, he appears to be without use of his left eye. In this image, he is shown with his right eye closed. Why is that? Is he mid-blink? Is he deep in thought? He does look, if only slightly, a bit sad or contemplative. Perhaps, being that he is a cat, he is asleep. But if that is the case, why did he not bother to remove his tie? And do people who wear eye patches wear them while asleep? I guess a sleeping one-eyed cat isn’t really a cool design — at least not as cool as a cat with an eye patch and a bow tie — so maybe we could rule that possibility out due to it being too weird.
Did a booster buy this for him?
This is now an NCAA investigation. Please cooperate.
Okay just kidding!
This isn’t really an NCAA investigation. Sorry for bringing that up.
In all, it’s a pretty rad tattoo.
It would make a neat design for all sorts of things. In searching for something with this design emblazoned on it, I found this sweatshirt which is kinda okay:
Give it a bow tie and you’ve basically got my outward identity, circa my sophomore year.