Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Two interesting things happened today, both related to appearances, and I suppose--by default--perceptions as well.  Can you have one without the other?


After nearly 24 hours of howling winds, gusts up to 50 mph, shaking the house, rattling the windows, it was wonderful this morning to wake up to silence.  It was a real surprise then, when I opened the blinds, to find a fairly good layer of snow had fallen in the night.

I check the temperature before the boys and I go to the park--40 degrees.  It's warmed up about 15 degrees since I started the day, so I don't take my scarf, gloves, hat.  I step out of the car at the park, and get hit by a wind straight off the Russian Steppes.  Seriously cold.  Bundled the dogs in their Winter jackets--lucky them!--and off we trudge.

[Here's a brief sidebar.  Earrings and frigid temps don't mix.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I wear them regardless of where I am, or what I'm up to.  I'm just saying.  Metal, flesh, ice.  Tough combination.]

I'm walking through this particularly open area, near the baseball diamond, where the wind is unimpeded and just brutal.  I see this old guy coming toward me, walking his equally old dog.  I don't actually know him, though I run into him often enough when walking this route.  I know his name is Richard, he's old, and he always calls me "Young Lady" whenever we pass each other.  He and his dog look alike: small, a bit fuzzy around the edges, both sort of...worn out, but still carrying on.

As we converge on the path, I say something mundane, like "Cold this morning."  (Yeah, I know.  Sparkling repartee.) 

He says, "Where's your hat?  Too bitter not to be wearing a hat."

"I didn't think it was so bad," I say.

His eyebrows lift into his knit cap.  "You didn't notice the snow?" 

I laugh, tell him it was 40 degrees at my house, then as the dogs start to pull me away, I say over my shoulder, "Freezing cold and earrings don't work together, that's for sure."

His parting shot as he turns:  "Don't remember.  Haven't worn 'em for years now."

I stop.  Stare at his back as he shuffles off, then smile into the frigid wind as I follow the dogs.  Who knew?  The most unlikely guy in the world, very staid, well-dressed, polite and gentlemanly.  Who was he when earrings were part of his ensemble??


Once home, I get on with some chores, then am just making myself a cup of tea before sitting down to blog, when there's a knock at the door.  It's one of the women who live up here on the mountain.  She's not a friend, but is an acquaintance.  We don't have much in common, especially as she's truly, deeply, maniacally religious.  Now, before anyone takes offense:  each to his own is my philosophy.  Don't try to convert me, don't tell me I'm going to fry in a lake of burning sin, just leave me alone, and I'll return the favor.

So, I invite her in.  Offer tea, and at first she's fine, but after we've been sitting at the table for a few minutes, she starts to act...I don't know...weird.  She's slightly twitchy, acting uncomfortable.  Cripes, I don't know if I've said something to offend her, or what.  I keep talking while my mind is replaying the last five minutes' worth of conversation.  Then I catch her.  I see what the problem is.  I know what she's looking at.  Sigh.

I usually wear long sleeves, after all, it's Winter.   Apparently, this woman has never seen me in a short-sleeved shirt.  My mark of Satan is showing.  My passport to that fiery lake in Hell.  Not only am I a tattooed woman, but--gasp, horror--my tattoo is an Eastern icon of unacceptable origin.  Holy crap.

Of course, I am offended by her narrow-mindedness.  Outwardly I am calm, ignore her blatant stares and thin-lipped disapproval, and--being me--make a point of flaunting my Buddha at every opportunity.  I reach across her, sleeve rising higher as I offer her some cookies.  I pour her tea, making sure my arm is turned just right so my Buddha is within a foot of her nose.  I smile pleasantly, manners impeccable, but I will not allow her prejudice to find a voice, not in my home, in my space.

The poor woman drinks her tea so fast, it's a wonder she doesn't choke, then makes a hasty retreat, saying, as she flies down my front porch steps, that we should "do lunch" sometime.  Yeah.  Sure.  That sounds like fun...

From now on, this woman will look at me differently.  In her eyes, I have become someone "other".  Why?  Because I have a tattoo; and because of what my tattoo means in her small world--a world that can't accept other belief systems, or acknowledge a different way of living, or seeing.

Wait until she gets a look at my right shoulder.  That tattoo goes halfway to my elbow: Celtic knotwork, Lotus blossoms, a beautiful blend of Pagan and Buddhist symbolism.

But the funny thing?  She got so worked up, I never found out what she came over for in the first place!  Maybe my wee Buddha is a blessing in disguise...


  1. A judgement by appearances is a sickness...

    You have a very cute Buddha tat there, even if it's the pudgy, Vegas years version.

    Your...um, friend, would hate my work; my left half-sleeve is composed of three! Buddhist-themed works, and then there's my yin/yang framed by the chaos star. Of course, I fully intend on sipping margaritas on the River Styx, if there is such a place ;).

    1. The "Vegas years" version...LOL. Too funny. He's robust (okay, maybe a little pudgy) because he's bursting with love and joy.

      My yin/yang is in the center of the knotwork, which twines around the Lotus blossoms. It's really beautiful work. I like the idea of your chaos star framing the yin/yang...really clever.

      Whiskey. Could only survive that boat ride with whiskey.