Colorful cartoon-character cupcakes, with candy eyes focused on elegant petits fours on dainty doilies, shared prime shelf real estate with brash Italian pastries stuffed with cream cheeses.
When the counter woman asked, "May I help you?" I explained that I was a photographer and would like to take some pictures of the goodies.
I expected a quick, "Sure, go ahead." But instead she looked confused, and said she'd have to ask the manager in the back room.
"Ask him if I can set up a time to take some photos of someone decorating a cake, too, please."
The answer was no. No, I couldn't take any photos in the shop, nor of someone decorating a cake.
And no, I will not buy anything from your bakery either, I thought silently, while I made my lips say, "Okay, thanks for asking. I appreciate it."
And then, because I'm me, I said, "I'm curious, though. Did he give a reason?" She just shrugged; she seemed the type who wouldn't think to ask why, especially not of a boss. Maybe not of anyone.
But there are people who welcome the lens pointed in their direction. Broad Street Tattoo was happy to allow me in with my camera.
Joe Staska of Broad Street Tattoo
When I returned, a kid--a young man, I suppose--clean-cut, sort of sweet and innocent looking, was sitting on the couch. I figured he was waiting for someone who was getting tattooed, maybe his mother. Or maybe a friend with a five o'clock shadow at 1:15. Someone wearing a do-rag and tee shirt with the sleeves ripped off, the better to show bulging biceps in tattoo sleeves.
But then he took out a wad of cash and counted it--twice. "Are you here to get a tattoo?" I asked.
He was. He smiled and told me he'd always wanted a tattoo, this was his first--he'd just turned eighteen--and he was excited about it, that he wasn't worried about the pain. Yes, his mother knew, and no, she wasn't upset at all.
All sorts of designs adorned the walls. "What are you going to get?" I asked, thinking of my son's tattoos. Ghoulish designs that, nonetheless, have meaning to him.
"The Serenity Prayer," he said. "I've always loved that."
I'll never know the reason he chose that tattoo. There are only so many questions one is entitled to politely ask. But I'll bet there is a good story there. I wish I knew it.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Read my story, Coffee Break, at Camroc Press Review--a tattoo related tale of mother and son.