Off-Beat Challenge – Piercings And/Or Tattoos?

Tattoo

The son’s tattoo – all designed and ready to go, but not installed.

I have never got a tattoo because I have absolutely no imagination – and I got my ear pierced for exactly the same reason.

I have not wanted to be part of the madding crowd, but I never wanted to be too far away, for protective camouflage. I don’t want to be one of the flock, but I don’t mind grazing in the same meadow.  Any wolves are more likely to take down a fat young sheep, than a grumpy old goat like me.

I’ve worn cowboy-type boots for almost 50 years, since I found a pair on sale at K-Mart, the first year we were married. In the 1980s, when I was having my mid-life crisis, I didn’t buy a red sports car.  I got the first of a series of second-hand motorcycles, and a black leather jacket to go with it.

The wife and son and I went to an evening movie when there were still theaters downtown. When we came out and headed home, we were confronted with a gaggle of 6 or 8 Goths with a blaring boom-box the size of a VW van, randomly sprawled across the sidewalk.

The wife said later that she was a bit worried about this bunch. Then she looked at me on one side, with my motorcycle boots and leather jacket. On the other side was 6’-2”, hairy, Grizzly Adams-like son, wearing a sort-of sombrero, an ankle-length oilskin duster out of a spaghetti western, and steel-toed work boots.

When it became obvious that we weren’t going to step out into the street to go around this puddle of anti-societal slush, legs and feet were quickly withdrawn into standing or lotus positions.

I went with a co-worker after an 11 PM shift-end, to an upscale roadhouse/bar. The fussy little hostess wanted me to remove my jacket before he’d seat us.  When I asked why, he replied that it looked very much like a motorcycle jacket.  “What a coincidence!  My bike is parked right outside.”  Well, some of the other patrons might feel intimidated, and would I please take it off.

During my change-of–life rebellious period, even before I got my bike and jacket, I thought that I might like to get a tattoo and/or an ear stud. I recently saw a photo of a pretty, young female custom-cake maker in New York, sporting two forearms covered in tattoos.  Back in the ‘80s, tattoos were transgressive and subversive.  She’d have been a professional wrestler, a biker chick, or a stripper.  They have gone from being questionable, to de rigueur.

I had a gold, eagle necklace pendant. Did I want an eagle tattoo??  I had a sweatshirt, a slab of slate, hand-painted by the daughter, and a light switch plate with wolves on them.  Did I want a wolf??  I didn’t want to be identified as either a Star Trek, or a Star Wars nerd.  What else?  What else??!

I’d like to claim that I had decision paralysis, where I couldn’t choose among so many options, but the sad truth is that I just wanted to seem to be a bad boy, but didn’t have enough imagination to know how.

During a discussion while I was composing this post, the loving son helpfully suggested that I have D N R (do not resuscitate) tattooed across my chest.  Like a dead child, dark humor never grows old.

A younger female co-worker asked me if I would give her a ride home, and stop at a nearby mall, so that she could quickly pick up a couple of things. On the drive, she told me that she’d got her second tattoo, but she couldn’t show it to me – right then – because it was inside her bikini line.

Poor tattoo artists. They see it all – even if they don’t want to.  They wear rubber gloves while they work, to prevent infection in either direction, but I’ll bet that a lot of them wish that they could wear a blindfold sometimes, while they work.

As we went from one store to another, she told me that she intended to add a piercing. She didn’t volunteer the location, and I valiantly refrained from asking, or even showing any interest.  I mentioned that, along with the absent tattoo, I’d often thought about getting my ear pierced.  Suddenly, she literally grabbed me by the earlobe, swung me around, and pushed me toward a jewelry store whose window ad read, “Ears Pierced – $10.”

Within a minute – ZAP – I had a cheap piece of glass-chip and plated wire installed in the side of my head.  I objected that, since I only got one piercing and one stud, the price should only be $5.  The clerk insisted that there were no reductions….but she did add the other one as a third stud in my friend’s left ear.

Surprisingly, the wife didn’t make a fuss about it – although she did insist that we visit a reputable jeweller as soon as was convenient, and swapped it out for a $80 gold and sapphire (my birthstone) version.

I wore it proudly, and rebelliously, for over 20 years, until one day I stopped in to see the daughter. She had acquired a frisky young, female German shepherd, who insisted that I kneel or bend down so that she could lick my entire face.

One day, as she put a paw up on my shoulder, she must have caught it with a toenail. Fortunately, she only popped the back off, and didn’t rip it from my earlobe.  Assuming that it was still there, I went about a week before I noticed that it was missing.  By then, it was too late to search for it, and the hole had started to heal closed.

Society, and its norms, has greatly changed since the ‘80s. Neither tattoos nor piercings have the cachet they did back then.  At 73, I don’t plan to add either.  It’s just as well.  With all the old folks medical procedures I’ve had, and presumably will have – the clinics and the hospitals have signs that insist that ALL jewelry and piercings must be removed or treatment will not be given.   😳

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T.M.I.

Aghast

26 Things About Me

 

Twenty-six things about me…

A- Age: Just count the rings – uh, 71

B- Biggest fears: I fear nothing – but I’m smart enough to avoid certain things.

C- Current time: 12:34:56 AM

D- Drink you last had: Iced Tea

E- Every day starts with: waking up and checking the obits page

F- Favorite song: Fleetwood Mac – Tusk, YouTube video with USC Marching Band

G- Ghosts, are they real?: Only if you think they are.

H- Hometown: Southampton, Ontario, Canada

I- In love with: Myself – Damn, I’m awesome!

J- Jealous of: No one. I didn’t do all this work to wish I was someone else

K- Killed someone?: In my head? A lot. (Nobody’s actually gonna check – right?)

L- Last time you cried: When I sliced up four pounds of onions for French Onion Soup

M- Middle name: Howard – and one more Archonian secret is revealed

N- Number of siblings: 2 – 1 full brother and 1 half-assed sister

O- One wish: To turn back time.

P- Person you last called: Called what? Oh, daughter, LadyRyl!

Q- Question you’re always asked: Would you like to come to dinner now?

R- Reason to smile: I know – but you don’t even suspect.

S- Song last sung: Eagles – Take It Easy

T- Time you woke up: 7:22 when son got home, 10:36 when bladder insisted, finally 12:54 PM

U- Underwear color: Differently colored bikini briefs every day

V- Vacation destination: Charleston, SC

W- Worst habit: Procrastination.

X- X-Rays you’ve had: Am I still glowing? A lot, recently!

Y- Your favorite food: A lot – potato pancakes/fries & gravy/poutine

Z- Zoos visited! Detroit, as a kid. Not Toronto. Does African Lion Safari count?

 

Strangers – Part Deux

The knife show – and other excitements.

We woke at 8 AM Saturday morning in Detroit, and got ready to go to the knife show, which started at 9.  It’s about a half-hour drive away.  Back before Christmas, when the son was doing his shopping for presents, he picked up a nice little Garmin GPS unit for himself at $40.  It’s been in his room, still in the box, but he thought he might like to bring it along.  We plugged it into the wife’s laptop the night before, to charge it.

As we were doing breakfast-y things, the son entered the motel’s address, and the address of the hall we were going to.  He’d already put in our home address, so it knew where we lived, but for the rest, it just printed, “Acquiring satellites” and sat there.  He thought it might be because we were under concrete and steel, so he moved it to the window sill, but, another ten minutes and still, “Acquiring satellites”.  When we were ready to leave, he threw it on the bed, bitching that he had wasted $40.  I told him to bring it along.  He disdainfully tossed it in the back seat.

As we moved up the driveway toward the street, a female voice from the back loudly proclaimed, Recalculating.  Please proceed 75 yards to Eureka Rd, and turn left.  Two problems with that, it’s a one-way street, and the show is to the right.  Maybe she wanted me to go to a hardware store and buy her an upgrade.  I turned right.  Recalculating.  Now she’s figured which direction I want to go but, Proceed 600 yards and turn right on Telegraph Rd.  I’ve already checked with MapQuest, and want to continue straight ahead.  It’s two kilometers farther, but five minutes faster, so I proceed through the intersection.  RECALCULATING!  Damn!!  That’s three times I’ve heard that word, and I can still see the motel in the mirror.  Oh, it’s gonna be a loonngg half-hour drive.

The show was bigger this spring.  The hall is modular, so they took three bays instead of two.  The knives were beside the guns, not at the back as they have been stuck in the past.  Lots of the Rusty Jackknife crowd, but several custom makers as well, including one from Sarnia, ON, who we know from the Toronto shows.  There was a certain overlap of displays.  The custom knife makers wanted to display and sell only their knives, but the knife purveyors were permitted to display a few firearms, and several gun dealers also displayed factory-made knives.

We ran into a woman at a booth who told us she was from Sevierville, Tenn.  This is home territory to several well-known makers.  Up here in Canada, where 50% of the English-speakers have to be fluent in French because most of the 10% who speak French, won’t bother to learn English, that name would be pronounced sev-yay-vill.  Down there, it’s severe-vull, like Knoxvull, and Nashvull, and Loo-uh-vull.  (That’s Louisville, for those of you who don’t speak redneck.)

When I suggested that she had just a bit of an accent, she told me I had to visit the maker from Alabama, in the next row.  “Ah cain’t hardly unnerstan a word he’s sayun!”  There were a couple of kiosks in the entry with internet-enabled computers.  I knew that my pre-scheduled post hadn’t worked out, but could do nothing about it from that distance.

I took a few photos of a knife collection, to show the different styles and sizes made.

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The big bowie-style knife with the man’s face on the handle, was made by that gentleman.  The man who bought it, paid a lady scrimshander to add his likeness.  She also does other art, like ivory carving.  The son bought a hear-no-evil, etc., etc. trio, about as big as two fingers, from her.  The knife-maker is the man I purchased my only custom knife from.  I paid a retired veterinary-magazine illustrator to scrimshaw the two gryphons onto it.  One has eagle’s wings; the other has dragonfly wings.  Note how he wrapped the tails around the center pin.  He included his working drawings, dedicated to the wife and me.

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Gryphon 2

Kyle's Scrimshaw

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Thanks for coming by to look and read.  I’ll post more about the trip soon.  The ooh-ing and aah-ing may now begin.

Oktoberfest

Like so many other things these days, Oktoberfest has almost slipped past me.  I have nothing on it in my drafts file, so I guess I’d better get something electronic captured in this here computer thingy.

Since Canada’s weather turns cold sooner than the USA’s, we celebrate our Thanksgiving earlier.  Our turkey day will be this coming Monday.  Kitchener/K-W/Waterloo Region’s Oktoberfest always begins on the Friday before.  That way, after three days of binge drinking, you can be thankful that you’re still alive, and that the hangover headache is receding slightly.  We tap the first keg at Speaker’s Corner at noon on Friday, and throw out the first drunk by about one.

Corporate taxes weren’t enough to provide infrastructure funding, so, because of the strong local Germanic heritage, in 1969 it was decided to imitate the tourist draws of places like Niagara Falls, and hold an Oktoberfest.  There were five German clubs initially, all in Kitchener.  Now there are fest-halls in school auditoriums and Catholic Church basements for fifteen miles.  The Germanic influence is fading.  One of the original German clubs recently closed for lack of new members, and another is struggling.

The original Bavarian Oktoberfest was held for five days, starting October 17.  Nowadays the Germans can’t wait to get at their beer.  Their two-week contribution to Alcoholics Unanimous started on September 22, and wraps up this weekend.

I had an earlier post about the crazy local street layouts.  It’s hard enough to get anywhere on a street-map that looks like a plate of vermicelli at the best of times, and Oktoberfest is not the best of times.  We have at least three main streets with major road-repair happening, and several short sections of downtown streets will be closed for fest-tents, tourist information and music/dancing.  Throw in a hundred thousand confused tourists, attempting to drive in various states of inebriation, and we have a recipe for bumper-cars disaster.

Already, my son’s co-workers are reporting getting stopped in DUI ride-checks.  Oktoberfest brings a lot of income to the area, and many residents take a week of vacation, to work as bartenders, waiters, cab drivers, etc.  Probably even more take the time off and get out of town to escape the madness.

Originally, the organizers wanted to call it a Beer Festival, but the blue-nosed bureaucrats would have none of that.  It is a Bavarian Festival, and only cultural references may be advertised.  When it was younger and smaller, it was a friendly little celebration, and there were cultural aspects to it.  There are still things to do, even for a family.  One of the events is Bogenschutzenfest, an archery contest where the competitors try to hit a stuffed bird, high up on a post.  I guess it takes a drunken German to explain why killing eagles in trees was a good idea in the first place, and why there is a dearth of eagles in Germany today.

Several years ago, one of the nephews got married on the second Saturday of Oktoberfest.  The reception was in the basement of the Catholic Church where the mass was held.  Suddenly a group of Schuplattlers (German clog dancers) showed up and began to put on a show, while their manager held a conversation with the boy’s father.  After three or four dances they suddenly packed up and disappeared.  Apparently they had shown up at the wrong Catholic Church and there was a paid-up audience waiting for them elsewhere.  And these guys were sober!

Residents who live near big fest-halls can probably make five to ten dollars a day, by returning for deposit, all the beer bottles and cans left on their lawns.  Sadly, it doesn’t really pay for the time or yuck factor of also having to pick up food containers, used condoms, panties and other clothing, and human feces.  These days, the cultural competitions include public urination.  There are separate divisions for both male and female. Like the peppermint schnapps/Oktoberfest sausage vomiting, there are prizes for both distance and accuracy.  The artists in the drunkaholic crowd get their creative release by using car keys to draw pictures on automobiles in driveways.

In 1973 the committee issued commemorative Oktoberfest Dollars, silver-colored Trade Dollar coins, good for merchandise or services.  They discontinued the practice in 2002.  I still hadn’t got into coin collecting for the first couple of years, but when I did decide to, I found a plant worker who had extra coins of the years I missed, so I have a complete set.  In 1986, they went to a gold-colored coin which cost $2.  In 1998, they went back to the silver color, but the value was still $2.

Our Oktoberfest only lasts for nine days, but it must be like what living in downtown Las Vegas is like year-round.  Many residents, especially the younger ones, love it.  Many of the older set (not mentioning any names) aren’t too thrilled.  My son has two lapel buttons, which he put on his jacket last night.  One reads, “I’m from K-W, and I hate Oktoberfest!”  The other one says, “Willkomen (Welcome) to Oktoberfest.  Now Go Home!”

I’ve been lucky over the years, only being stopped by the police twice, both times coming home early in the evening from the outlaws’ house.  Once I was pulled into a RIDE check on my bike, about 10:30 P.M. on my way to work for an eleven o’clock shift.  Get drunk and ride a motorcycle?  I think not!

We’ve got an empty calendar next week, not even one doctor’s appointment.  It’s fairly safe to go out during the day.  They’re already doing stops at the Conestoga Parkway ramps this week, but the son uses surface streets to get to work.  He may get through four midnight shifts next week without being pulled over, then we can all relax and wait for things to get back to, what passes for normal in this town.