The Monday Afternoon Barnes & Noble
Tattooed Ladies Club, By Invitation Only
Nowadays nothing totally strange about sitting
in Barnes & Noble, the café section,
mid-afternoon listening to the espresso machine
heat milk while getting a forearm, hand and
fingers henna tattooed even if,
one supposes, you are a permed, white haired
overweight matronly type wearing pink
pedal pushers, a striped tank top a size too small
and a plastic encased badge proclaiming
“My Name Is…” along with a faraway look
in near-sighted eyes. Four small, round top tables
are in a line seating eight similar ladies,
a few with walkers, all with tattoos:
arms, legs, necks and doubtless elsewhere,
out on an excursion. For now, laptops
have been set aside and all eyes are on
the lady being tattooed.
“You’re gonna be the most eccentric bad-assed
woman in town,” says the artiste lady with a
buzz cut wearing short shorts whose thighs
roll over the tourniquet hem of lime green shorts.
There is additional tattoo talk, then book talk,
then TV and finally discussion of mutual
acquaintances but never of men.
The artiste bends close to her work, dipping a pen
into the henna ink and slowly drawing an ad lib
Indian image. It is deep blue but will turn sepia
in days and completely disappear in a matter
of just weeks. The geriatric model breaks
her silence to say she is getting tired and the
tattoo lady says she can stop any time now.
No, keep going, I’ve got a lot of canvas to cover.
It’s raining out, light rain with a warm breeze
just strong enough to push drops against
the big Barnes & Noble front windows
as Frank Sinatra tunes play on the music system,
interrupted by occasional thunder claps.
If Sinatra were still kicking he would be
older than the eight tattooed ladies,
but not so much. All in all, though,
a perfect afternoon for a work of art.