So, Hailey Conquest and her boyfriend are tailgating with some of his friends before the Tennessee game, and they’re talking about the way it used to be up in the student section and everything — shoulder-to-shoulder, standing the whole time, rushing the field, all the great Pre-Covid stuff. And, so, of course the 2017 Iron Bowl comes up. What a game, what a beat down.
“And my boyfriend is like ‘show them, show them,'” she says. “I’m like, ‘show them what?'”
Oh. Right! She shows them.
“It’s supposed to fade, and it has a little, but it’s still there.” she says. “I’d literally forgotten I even had it.”
Hailey is one of the Auburn girls with the Fiji tattoos. I wrote a story on them back in the spring. You should read it. It’s fun. Basically, Auburn’s Sustainability in Action study abroad program on Vororovoro, this tiny island in Fiji, is so mind-blowing that half of the folks who sign up end up getting a tattoo to commemorate their new lease of life. Hailey’s is just above the crook of her arm. It’s the title of a great gospel song that the Fijian national rugby team sings before each match: Eda Sa Qaqa—”we have overcome.”
So, when I interviewed her, of course I asked her if she had any other tattoos, and she started rattling them off. There’s a wave from when she was going to be a marine biologist. There’s “makai,” the word for ocean in Hawaiian, thanks to a lot of family trips over there. There’s a globe on her ankle, because she’s a senior in global studies.
And “26-14” is inside her lower lip because Auburn beat the hell out of Alabama.
Freshman year was awesome.
“Yeah, it was my freshman year, and I was just really, really excited about football,” she says. “I had never experienced anything like that before. I grew up a Tennessee fan. I wasn’t used to winning. I wish I could say I lost a bet or something, but at the time I just thought lip tattoos were the coolest thing, and me and my friends were just kind of joking about what we were going to do if we won. And then we won and stormed the field. It was great.”
Two days later, she was at Against All Odds tattoo shop in Auburn with tears in her eyes.
“It was definitely my most painful tattoo,” she says. “The inside of your mouth is super sensitive. I had a friend hold my hand.”
Would she do it again?
“Yeah, I think I would. I’m glad I did it. I’m very different now than I was as a freshman, but getting that tattoo sums up my freshman year perfectly. Those are great memories. It’s a cool story to tell people.”
And to impress your boyfriend’s friends with.
“Yeah, they were like ‘oh, she’s so cool! Marry her!'”