Saturday, September 19, 2009

A tattoo and a prayer~

I stood, camera in hand, waiting my turn at a local bakery where a mouthwatering array of pastries and cakes would tempt the most ardent dieter to fall off the wagon. Fall? Make that, leap off the wagon. Happily. Diet schmiet!

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.

"Come back at 1:15," shop owner Joe Staska told me. "I'll be setting up for my next customer, and you can get some photos then."

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.

Nick Bennett

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.


sc morgan said...

I really loved this piece, Ruth. It has a nice balance of the (slightly) pissy first encounter and a charming ending. I'd rather hang out in the tattoo parlour than the fascist bakery any day. ;-)

I also loved, "Coffee Break", over at the CPR. Poignant piece. Nicely done.

tim said...

I bet the bakery owner was afraid you might steal the little souls of his cupcakes if you were to take their picture. If you look at it like that, you can't really blame the guy.

Barbara said...

At least it's not something containing the name of a SO that might become not so significant. But the thought of having that done to myself gives me chills!

As for the bakery photos, I've had similar experiences. I think some people are simply distrustful.

Wanda said...

Breaking my break, to take a peek at your post...

So glad I did. Another masterful article, with a sweet twist, and and beautiful ending...

You are the best, Ruth.

LOL: Wanda

Wanda said...

BTW Two glasses of red wine sounds like a real medical breakthrough!!

Thanks for the tip!

Janice Thomson said...

I'd love to know the young man's story too - such an unusual tattoo.
Off to read your other tale now... :)

Ross Eldridge said...

I wonder what that young man's mum and dad thought of his inkwork ... Perhaps they resigned themselves to his choices when he had his ear pierced?

I notice that he would not be able to read it, the way it was showing on his arm. It would be upside down to his eyes. That is, of course, unless a nice lady took a photo of it, as you have!

Such a curious thing for a lad to choose. I'd heard this "prayer" first when I was about 20 ... a colleague at AIG used to chant it to himself when he craved a drink. Often. I wonder if there is a story behind this choice. One hopes this is a prayer chosen before it was actually needed. Can one ever pray too early?

Shame on those rotters in the bakery!



Bob Sanchez said...

A bakery manager with any imagination would have said yes and asked for a nice color print to put on display. Or at least would have realized that you're a potential customer.

One thing I've noticed here in the Southwest is that a whole lot of people, men and women, have tats. Maybe it's just because it's warmer here and they show more skin, but they do seem extremely common.

Bob Sanchez

Rozel said...

I wish that I was brave like you! Sadly, I would have probably been like the girl who didn't ask her boss "why". I have have a slight amount of envy of those who are not affraid to ask or try new things. Like asking to take pictures at a tatoo parlar.