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Monday, July 19, 2010

The Tattoo-Faced Woman Underestimated How It Would Affect Her Choice of Careers

Have you met Stephanie?

Stephanie lives in my neighborhood. She is the subject of much discussion and many e-mails, some of which come from the police; a distinctly marked woman you can confuse with no other; a woman who has knocked on doors at 2:00 a.m. to ask for money.

I hadn’t seen Stephanie for a while, but I saw her recently.

“Excuse me? Excuse me?”

I look up from my weeding in the front garden. This is not the first time I’ve been interrupted by people asking for money while I’m weeding. I blame it on an alluring combination of stained gardening pants and paint-spattered Elvis-commemorative-stamp tee-shirt.

Drives the peoples wild.

Stephanie de-bikes, leaving it on the sidewalk, and approaches rapidly. “Could I talk to you for a moment, ma’am?" she says. "Ma’am, are you a Christian woman?”

Ah. This is not the first time I’ve heard this approach.

“No,” I said. “Sorry, I’m not.” I go back to my weeding.

This does not deter Stephanie. “Ma’am, do you have some money?”

I stop weeding and sigh ever so slightly. “Yes, I do. Now are you going to ask me to give my money to you?”

“Yes, ma’am, if you could just see your way clear to giving me a couple dollars, I haven’t eaten in two days.”

I look up at her. She doesn’t know that I know where she lives, that I know her last name, that we frequent the same bars. Despite her propensity for begging – Mike bought her two drinks at Mayslack’s just to shut her up about how hard it was for her to find a job now that her face is covered with tattoos – she is a slender, well-dressed married woman who lives in a nice house.

Stephanie may have issues, but not eating isn’t one of them.

“No, I’m sorry,” I say. “I don’t have any money. I’m working in my yard.”

“You could run inside,” she offers.

I stare at her.

“You could run inside,” she repeats. “I’ll watch your, uh, your – “

“Spade,” I say. “And I don’t want to run inside.”

She keeps talking. Surely I am a Christian woman? Surely I can see my way to giving her whatever "spare" money I had? Maybe eleven dollars? Do I have eleven dollars to spare?

Persistence is her strong suit.

Eventually my husband comes around the corner.

“Sir? Sir?” Stephanie leaves my side and launches into her speech. Poor Willie has no defenses against brazen women; and after hearing less than a couple lines of her spiel digs into his pockets and gives her two dollars.

And with that, Stephanie jumps on her bike and is gone before you can ask – and feel free to join in here – “Ma’am? Are you a Christian woman?”

29 comments:

Simply Suthern said...

I must admit I am quite conservative and dont really understand the allure of multiple tattoos or piercings. As someone that has some input to who gets hired, right or wrong, it is something I think about.

One woman I read was not too thrilled about her sons new nose ring but said it was a lot easier to drag him out of bed now.

Pearl said...

I have to admit that the nose rings one sometimes sees makes me think about Grandpa's bull, the one we led by the nose...

I talked my son out of a tattoo years ago and so far he remains tattoo-free (he's 25). I don't have any myself, but I have friends who do. I think placement is everything, so I need someone to explain the neck tattoos to me...

Kelley said...

Ha! The part about that spade made me laugh. That Stephanie is so annoying! She must have a drug habit. I'm an absolute expert in this area as I watch "Intervention" weekly. Please let me know if I can be of assistance. My phone number is 98203482098-098235230985. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Mornin'Pearl. Ah the joys of living rural at the end of a long road. Few uninitiated make it to my door except the occasional daring Morman or Jehovah. Mostly there exists an attitude of "Nothing much to see down here boys, guess we better turn back." However, I do miss the Girl Scout cookie drive and those thin mints. Stephanie sounds like a real hoot - guard that spade, she could get at least 50 cents on the black market for it.

Yankee Gal

Bossy Betty said...

HOB is the same way. While I was gone on vacation, he was giving money to anyone who stopped by. No more vacations for me.

SparkleFarkle said...

Maybe those tattoos are birthmarks. I hear stork bites can worsen with age. By the way, do you have eleven bucks I could borrow?

LOL!

Willoughby said...

Begging for money in your own neighborhood....that's one gutsy chick! I have to admit, I was hoping for a description of the tattoos on her face. I'm picturing Mike Tyson. Am I close?

lisleman said...

I've been by this way before and I recall a street 'vendor' you wrote about. I think he was selling 'used' stereo stuff. Maybe he should employ Stephanie. You could mediate the deal.

Beta Dad said...

There's really no better way to preclude gainful employment than tattooing your face.

Charlotte Ann said...

I'm waiting on someone to invent a tattoo eraser and not the laser kind but one that is much like the eraser on the end of a #2 lead pencil. That's when I'm going to get a beautiful peacock tattooed across my face for Mardi Gras. I'll erase it the next day.

I used to threaten my daughter with being disowned should she get a tattoo which she never did and now she uses that same threat on her daughter. I just love passing on a tradition in the family.

Sweet Cheeks said...

"Sure...I've got some money. Eleven bucks burning a hole in my pocket right now. I believe that's just enough to purchase that bike of yours, and your shoes. NO?! I guess you're not that hungry are you?"

I'm a heartless wench.
=]

a Broad said...

Oh I like Sweet Cheeks .. that is a good idea.
No, I won't GIVE you money but you can sell me something .

So it is drugs or insanity ? What does her husband look like ?

In Portland we had the guy who was tattooed all over .. face and bald head covered, as much of the body as we could ( unfortunately ) see .. and mixed in with the variety of black and colorful tattoes were the shiny metal objects imbedded in his ears, nose, lips, head .. neck ... sorry, I am queasy now .

He was angrily ranting to a friend in a market one day, standing next to me... ( I was the one who could not stop staring at the package of noodles in my hand) and going on about why people ask him why he is tattooed... Really, this happened, I still have the scars on my tongue from biting it not to chime in at that point ...

Jon in France said...

I think employing young Steph could be quite a fun idea. She could drive the various pests from your garden by trying to score a bit of cash from them.

Gigi said...

Oh jeez! Being accosted in your own yard?

I figure if you want to "tat yourself up" that it's your business, but really? You should put some thought into the placement if you want any kind of career....this is why I've informed MC that as long as I'm paying for anything for him (including college) he'd better not get one - or else the money is gone and he's on his own. Worked for a friend of mine with his kid - am hoping it will work for me.

FabuLeslie said...

I think I may have gone beyond "no" and then said I worship Satan. Then I also might have asked if she could spare some booze because all the weeding was really making me thirsty, but I didn't have a drop of alcohol in the house and really needed some. Wine would be perfection. Also, could I have her bike? That might be what I asked next.

Joanie M said...

Crap! I'm taking a week's vacation, beginning tomorrow, just to work in my garden! I hope she doesn't come around my neighborhood!

Cheeseboy said...

This was actually a relief. I was afraid you were going to go inside and she would take your spade.

Casey Freeland said...

I thought you might lose your spade as well. I have no problem at all with tattoos, but that's a horrible excuse for not finding work, as it is something she did to herself. My body, I'll do what I want to it. I'm an upper level manager at a bank and I have a huge tattoo on my back. No one sees it but me and my family.

I didn't get it until I was in my 30's though. Getting one when you are young is seriously risky business.

Oh, by the way, I saw a cream advertised on TV that's supposed to make them fade away. Probably snake oil, but who knows.

Sarah said...

She has problems all right, and the root is not the tattoo. I once saw a woman with a few hundred piercings on her face. They must be good friends sharing the same confinement.

dogimo said...

This is why I keep Canadian money on hand. Readily available.

Fred Miller said...

I love these low-lifes. If I'm in the mood, I'll draw them into senseless conversation and slowly shift to a British accent. The I'll pretend to tell them a joke and switch suddenly to Spanish. I've been caught up with this trick though, because my Spanish isn't good. Then I'll switch to Italian, which is really just ten lines from Dante's Inferno. That's my entire grasp of Italian. If they're still in my face, I'll switch back to English and recite the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence in the most conversational tone. That's if I'm in the right mood. If I'm not in the mood, I chase them with the weedeater.

Murr Brewster said...

I was going to make a whole 'nother comment, but the woman from Portland with the encounter with the tattooed guy made me pause. He lived on my mail route. If you'd like to see just how much of him is tattooed, you could start here. He's definitely a mixed-up fellow but not a bad soul. I'm probably going to hell, but I think of him as "the little colored guy."

陳佑發 said...

鞋匠能作好鞋子,因為他只做鞋,不做別的。..................................................

Argent said...

I hate being accosted like this. The other day I was buttonholed by a guy at the railway station who had a wonderfully well-rehearsed script about needing two quid for the phone as he had been stranded and needed to call home. He was wearing a jacket and trousers and one of the id card laryeards round his neck so h looked like an office worker. I came across him the next day a bit further into town givign our the same spiel to some other hapless person.

I might try the 'I'm foreign/mad/deaf/stoopid' trick next time.

Tempo said...

Yeah, we get that here too, I cant tell you who does it because that would be racist and there will be none of that in OZ these days...
" do you have a spare.. (insert as last accosted) cigarette, let me use your phone, loaf of bread, coffee, few bucks"
Does anyone have SPARE money? I sure dont...and dont know anyone who does.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Smooth talkers with tattoos. Could be the name of your next short story collection!

Pearl said...

Ahhhhhhhhhh! I followed the link to the "little colored guy". He certainly is, isn't he?!

Tales of the Tattooed and Other Neighborhood Attractions. I like that. That's a good idea.

Steph's tattoo looks a lot like Tyson's, yes. Should've mentioned that. Dominates one side of her face. She is slender, not in a skinny way but in a fit way, with an attractive, short hairdo that probably has to be trimmed at least once a month.

Even when she's not on anything (I'm pretty sure it's meth) she seems a bit manic...

Krëg said...

This post gave me déjà vu all over again.

Warty Mammal said...

Beautifully written, and good for a number of chuckles.

I love the frankness with which you respond to the craziness.