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SC Ink: Permanent Reminders

John Gabordi talks about his multiple tattoos. (Corey Hanlon/The Student)

Dave Seronick

Staff Writer

A few weeks into John Gabordi’s freshman year, he received a phone call from his mother. The information she had to share with him was not unexpected, but grim nevertheless.

By the time Gabordi had put his phone down, he was aware of the fact that his 15-year-old dog, a Border Collie, Willie Mayes (named after his dad’s favorite athlete), had been put down.

As a way to immortalize his departed dog, Gabordi decided to combine his longing desire to get a tattoo by getting inked for the first time in memory of his beloved dog.

When it came time to choose what he wanted to get tattooed, Gabordi had just the idea. Prior to arriving at Springfield, Gabordi knew that his dog was in bad shape, so he did something to ensure that he would always remember her.

“I took her paw and dipped it in ink,” Gabordi said. “Then I took her paw and put it on paper, then took that paper and saved it.”

Located on his left tricep, the paw print was going to be his first tattoo, and to his parent’s dismay, not his last. In fact, Gabordi’s parents were originally so against the idea of him getting a tattoo that he kept the first one a secret from them. The only reason his parents found out is because his mother was checking his bank statement, saw the money withdrawn and became suspicious.

“She absolutely freaked out,” Gabordi laughed. “My mom thought it would turn me into a bad person.”

However, despite his mom’s reaction, Gabordi went on to get more tattoos. His second one came in the spring of 2010, in the form of a large cross on his right thigh. Gabordi’s reason for a cross was that he wanted to do something permanent regarding his faith. Although he says he is not as religious as he used to be, he feels that the tattoo will, even under the more horrific circumstances, be a good reminder.

“[It will] remind me that my faith is permanent and it’s not going away,” Gabordi said.

Surprisingly, Gabordi did not pay a penny for this tattoo. In fact, in spite of his dislike for tattoos, Gabordi’s father offered to pay for the ink if Gabordi reached a certain GPA. When Gabordi did in fact reach the set GPA, his father upheld his end of the bargain and paid for the tattoo.

Nonetheless, Gabordi’s desire for more tattoos was not quenched, and in the fall of 2010, he got his third one. Having a close relationship with his brother, Gabordi knew just what to get tattooed on his left deltoid.

“I got the little dipper and my brother has the big dipper,” said Gabordi. “It’s kind of a big brother, little brother type thing.”

If the sentimental reasoning behind the tattoo wasn’t enough, Gabordi added that “females dig it.”

With three tattoos on his body, Gabordi says he’s not done yet and has some ideas in the woodwork. As a possible next tattoo, Gabordi says he wants a blue dragonfly. Although he admits that may seem awkward and peculiar to some, to him it symbolizes something very dear to him.

When Gabordi was younger, he and his family used to vacation in Maine. While in Maine, he and his mother would spend time out on a boat. One year, while out in the water, a big, blue dragonfly landed on his mother. When this occurred, his mother decided to name that dragonfly Ellen. Each year after, Gabordi swears that when he and his family went back to Maine, a blue dragonfly would land on his mother and she would say, “Oh look, Ellen is back.”

Gabordi says that if he does go through with the idea, the dragonfly will remind him “of a fantastically happy time in my life, and what a clown my mom is, and what a great person she is, and how lucky I am.”

That type of deep-thinking is the thought that Gabordi says he puts into each tattoo on his body.

“No tattoo I have gotten is a mistake,” Gabordi said.

Dave Seronick can be reached at

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