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Autoscriblia is the act of writing on oneself. It is distinct from the practice of tattooing, where a fat, hairy man will mark your skin instead of... actually, it’s not that different.
While modern writing implements capable of marking the skin have been in use for many centuries, autoscriblia only became common in the southern United States in the early 19th century with the rise of the cotton industry.
The first instance of autoscriblia occurred when a cotton plantation owner left the parchment part of their pen and parchment set back in their manor, and they needed to make a note of their need for Dijon mustard. Naturally, they weren’t going to deface their own clothes with shopping-related scrawl. They tried writing on their slaves’ skin, but nothing written on them could be distinguished at all, mysteriously. When they wrote on their own skin, this problem was not encountered, and the practice grew from there.
Autoscriblia is most commonly engaged in by people so they can remember something they deem important, and is usually done on their hand. Autoscribliacs experience varying levels of success in achieving this. It is usually effective in men without sexual partners, but very ineffective for black people.
Possible adverse health effects
Autoscriblia is known to have many severe, horrible negative side effects, as proven countless times on Yahoo! Answers. In autoscriblia’s early days, autoscribliacs were prone to accidentally slashing their veins open with the sharp nibs of their pens and bleeding to death. Fortunately, this has no longer been a risk since the time when biros first became widely used. Now, autoscribliacs need only worry about biro ink seeping into their skin and the subsequent falling off of their appendages.
While this holds true for all biros, the most harmful biro ink was revealed to be that of the Paper Mate Killmetrico (pictured), one of the world’s most popular pens. It differs from the similarly named (and similar looking) Paper Mate Kilometrico. Instead of being able to produce a kilometre of writing, the Killmetrico will likely cause death if its ink makes contact with the skin and a hospital is more than a kilometre away, hence its name. Needless to say, a scribble a day may keep the taxman away if the scribble involves the carrying out of crafty accounting, but it won’t keep the doctor away if it’s on your skin, in which case they’ll be all up in your shit.
Additionally, some poor saps develop a compulsion to, uh, autoscribble. Compulsive autoscriblia mainly affects younger people, particularly the school-aged. There is no known cure and compulsive autoscribliacs often find themselves in hospitals, mental clinics, detention and the afterlife.
edit In popular culture
The most famous example of autoscriblia is arguably that of Elton John. When he first began songwriting, he would write the lyrics to his songs upon his skin (pictured). This can be attributed to the fact that gay people are strange, and therefore do strange things. When the head of Liberty Records saw that John was writing lyrics in this way, he decided John should “...just stick to the music, you silly gay man.”
This began a long-standing songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin, who was brought in to write lyrics for John. This put the studio personnel at ease, as they enjoyed watching John play piano far more than seeing him with a pen in his hand, which brought up quite vivid memories they’d rather have forgotten relating to the way in which he managed to score a record contract.