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A Nomad’s Notes: It all started with The Legend of Old Gregg …

Back in 2008 I went to a summer camp in Georgia called Firespark! Yes, with the exclamation point in place. I went again in summer 2009. I can’t look back on that camp with anything but fond memories, and have friends I made there nine years ago whom I still keep in touch with. It’s also where I shared my huge Joker and “Star Trek” obsessions and it’s where I finally saw the classic that should be required viewing, “The Fifth Element.”
Firespark! is also where I discovered another popular character who still remains in our cultural zeitgeist — a character with a pink skirt, has The Funk in a box and an unnatural love for Bailey’s Irish Cream: Old Gregg. I remember exactly when I first saw the Old Gregg video. At this summer camp we had classes we took, almost like college courses, but of course no grades and less stress. One of my courses was in the library computer lab, but it usually fizzled out into a time to solve riddles or watch YouTube videos. One day in 2008 as we were deciding what to watch, this girl named Alex screamed out, “We have to watch Old Gregg!”
I wasn’t familiar with the British TV show “The Mighty Boosh,” so when I watched the Old Gregg clip in that computer lab the first time I thought it was just some weird thing some YouTubers had done for fun. I didn’t realize it was only a few clips from an entire show that’s legendary in Great Britain and under-appreciated everywhere else. But I remember laughing through most of the video, and feeling disturbed in some parts as well. Of course, now that I’ve watched the show and that episode more times than should be allowed, none of it disturbs me. In fact, it’s all a comfort now. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I forgot all about Old Gregg for the most part. In 2009 he was a huge hit my senior year of high school, with kids making mugs in graphic design class with Old Gregg on them. But beyond that, Old Gregg the scaly manfish fell off my radar until 2011, when I was reblogging stuff on Tumblr and came across a hilarious “The Mighty Boosh” post. Vince, a character who’s quite vapid and loves fashion, is in a submarine and says, “Can you open the window, I can’t breathe,” to which his shaman friend Naboo replies, “It’s a submarine, you idiot.” I laughed, reblogged it and decided to buy one episode of the show on iTunes to see what it was all about. And damn, what a rabbit hole (or Old Gregg cave?) I fell into.
“The Mighty Boosh” was probably my main obsession in 2011 — and my saving grace, in fact. Because as I’ve written about before, I lost my favorite teacher in the world to a heart attack May 9 that year. I still can’t think about him too long without feeling guilty over not visiting him more and wondering what he’d think of the tattoo I got for him only a few days after he died. I’d like to think he was proud of me in some regards.
But his passing destroyed me. I cried in private spaces in my dorm. I cried on the road listening to Phil Collins, The Police and John Lennon. I read Beatles books because I knew how much he loved them. I even got an invitation from his wife to come to their house and take something of his with me. To say I was gutted wouldn’t be enough.
So when those moments became unbearable I’d turn to Vince Noir, Howard Moon, Naboo and their ape friend Bollo to soothe and comfort me, and that they did. The entire show is meant to be humorous, and it is, but I remember listening to some of the songs they sing throughout the show and crying because they sounded so beautiful, crying for my favorite teacher and just crying to get my emotions out.
For a while that year only the Internet really understood how I felt, until I forced my soulmate and best friend in the entire existence of eternity, Leah, to watch the show with me that fall. Much as she did when I first showed her the 2009 “Star Trek” movie reboot, she didn’t seem to get it and I felt a bit embarrassed for having shown it.
But that didn’t last long. I don’t even remember how she became obsessed. It was like a light switch flipped. One day we’re watching some episodes in a Chinese restaurant and the next we’re dressing as the characters for Halloween, we’re giving each other Boosh-themed gifts, my mom and I are baking Leah a Boosh-themed cake (which, thanks to my mother, was so good I’m sad it had to be eaten).
Flash forward to 2018. Leah and I are just as close, if not closer, emotionally than ever before, to the point where we finally decided we wanted to get friendship tattoos. We’d talked about doing “Star Trek” friendship tattoos in 2011, but it ended up not happening, and the idea fell by the wayside until we both could actually afford to spend a bit of dough on some ink. Leah and her family came to Garden City, S.C., last week for their family vacation, and of course I freaked out at having a chance to see her in person, because with her in Kentucky and me all the way here, times to hang out in person are few and far between.
Weeks before she arrived we began planning what sort of tattoo we’d want. We thought we might do a quote from my middle/high school journal (don’t ask), or maybe a “Star Trek” one, but somehow we realized “The Mighty Boosh” would be the perfect tattoo idea for us. As real worlders with small budgets and big dreams, it’s hard not to get depressed and beyond stressed out in the thick of it. So having Howard and Vince now especially helps calm us and bring us the joy we know we have. In the world of “The Mighty Boosh” everything is more fantastical and fun and warm. Even the villains aren’t really villains so much as rascals. It’s just fun.
So we made a list of different Mighty Boosh tattoo ideas and decided on the song “Electro” from season one. In one line, Vince sings “I am electro boy, I am electro girl.” Leah got the brilliant idea to get those lyrics tattooed on our arms in each others’ handwriting, with the symbols for male and female appearing within. At first I wanted to fight for getting electro boy on me instead of electro girl, but when she argued, “With my short haircut, I look androgynous and often get mistaken for a boy,” I really couldn’t disagree.
On Friday we went for our appointment at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Ink to forever have each other’s handwriting tattooed on us. It’s my sixth tattoo and it definitely won’t be my last. Of course the tattoo is still healing, and is on my outer arm so it’s not immediately visible, but I’ve looked at it non-stop the past few days and probably won’t ever stop.
It’s beautiful, and in this day and age, with so many women being assaulted, maimed and killed simply for being women, and when technology continues to churn out new products faster than most can buy them, I’d say yes, I am an electro girl.

Lindsay Kriz is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com.