So I’m on the airplane yesterday, the last leg of one of the more irritating months of my flying career. This family’s in the last row, bottle-blonde mom, kid in a car seat, chunky, hunky husband in a t-shirt and shorts. He gets up out of his seat to get who-knows-what out of the overhead bin and I clock the naked-lady tattoo on his calf with an inward eye-roll. How classy, I groan, if only to myself. She must be very proud. What kind of woman, after all, runs around with the kind of jackass that parades around town with porn on his body? He was pretty cute, mind you, and they’d both been above-average friendly, but my knee-jerk impulse was not just to judge them, but harshly. They were airplane passengers, after all — they must have been doing something wrong.
I mean, it only took about five seconds — which can seem like a long time when you’re right in the middle of it — but the other shoe did eventually drop. My husband has a tattoo of a naked guy. A big one. Oh wait — I have a tattoo of a naked guy. On my calf. And it drives me crazy when people react to it like it’s porn. “You have a penis on your leg!” No I don’t; it’s Michelangelo’s David, for Heaven’s sake. It’s not a penis, it’s Art! Heed the Bible verse referenced by another of my tattoos: Don’t judge me! (“Luke 6:37,” as my left ankle will tell you.) Oy, the irony…
Naturally, as someone who has one, I don’t really have a problem with naked tattoos. I was even moved to write Jared’s (color and shading to come) a little backstory. And because it’s in my favorite little 100-word format, I’m sharing it here. I’m sure this guy’s topless Waikiki wahine has her own story, too. I didn’t ask to hear it, but if its moral is “Give people a break,” she should consider her message received.
Rising from the ashes is one thing, but exploding in flames hurt, dammit, and this had been a tough recovery. His strength trickled back so slowly when he mourned a mortal lover, and he languished being earthbound. His wings took forever to regenerate, and waiting, he was a prisoner of his muscle-heavy body, clumsier every day as gravity mocked his lavishly furled tail feathers. Finally today, the anxious rustling of impatient wings had woken him. He stayed for an extra minute to savor the lust for freedom — suddenly delicious, its quenching imminent — and then took to the sky.