Wednesday, September 23, 2009


"I don’t like people," was the first thing he said as she sat down in his tattoo chair. She was immediately intrigued. She glanced at him and tried to gauge how old he was. But, he was one of those guys who could be anywhere from age 22 to 39 and there was no way to tell. She wanted to ask his age, but thought that might be rude. Before she could even complete her thought, he asked her how old she was. Caught off guard by his question, she said "I’m old". "That’s not an answer", he replied. He had a way of seeing right through her that made her feel as if she had to tell him. Reluctantly, she gave up her age. She felt as though he had stolen a deep, dark secret from her. It wasn’t that her age was a secret. It was just that she had wanted to hold onto that piece of information for a while longer, but he had pried it from her in an instant and without any effort. Meanwhile, she still felt it would be too forward for her to ask his age. She was irritated with herself.

She sat in silence for a while, then said: "I don’t like people either." He looked at her in disbelief. It was as if he thought that she had said that just to please him or win him over, which obviously wasn’t a tactic that would work on him. But, she had meant it. She really did not care much for people either. Although, in her case, this had been a fairly recent realization. She had always thought that she liked people, but what she had seen of them lately wasn’t pretty. She had come across a quote by Charles Haddon Spurgeon that captured her sentiments exactly: "You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it."

She felt a kinship with the man who was now busy preparing to start her tattoo. It was her first tattoo and curiously she observed his every move. He made a casual comment to the other tattoo artist in the shop. They were the only ones working that night, and it was otherwise quiet in the shop, aside from the background music playing. They were talking about music. She listened in on their conversation and felt like a fly on the wall. While she was physically present in front of them, it was as if she weren’t there. She rather enjoyed that for a while. Being part of something, yet not being expected to participate. That’s how she liked it. Just being. Sitting quietly and observing. She took it all in, the whole experience.

She liked their sense of humor; it was of the snappy, sarcastic kind. Then they grew quiet. They both went on with their work; he busily filling up the little plastic ink cups with the various of concentrations of black. She enjoyed watching him and emboldened she finally asked: "How old are you?" Even though he had made her give up her information, he was not as easy of a target. "Guess!" he said.

"Oh shit", she thought. "I suck at guessing ages. If I go low, he’ll be insulted, and if I overshoot, he’ll be offended. There’s no way to win this." So, she responded with the same sarcasm she’d overheard and enjoyed during their conversation: "Five?" His tattoo artist friend laughed, and for the first time since she walked in, he smiled. "You’re pretty funny. A smartass. I like you." Suddenly, both men’s interests turned to her and they began including her in the conversation, frequently asking her thoughts and opinions. While she liked being part of their conversation, she missed being able to just sit there and gratuitously listen in on theirs.

No comments: