Thursday, January 08, 2009

I lasted one whole week.

Yes, I have already broken a resolution. And it was the important one. Of course. Damn it all. Here's how it went down:

I have a tattoo. I have two, actually. They are both on my left arm, easy enough to see if I am wearing short sleeves, which more often than not I am, at least while working. I get comments on them all the time, even though a tattooed barista is about as remarkable as, say, a grilled cheese sandwich or a rainy afternoon in Seattle. Generally the things people have to say pertain to their meanings; occasionally someone will say something about the size or placement or cool factor; rarely someone will ask me why I have them. Today's comment stunned me. Then I slowly got indignant and finally mad. Mostly I was pissed because I said something NICE when I should have said something MEAN.

What got said, Stella? What lit your fuse?

"Well, that's certainly a unique tattoo for a lady!"

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, well, it's true! Not everybody goes waltzing through life with a three inch tall musical notation emblazoned in their flesh! And you'd be right. But the pertinent - and angering - portion of the statement wasn't the uniqueness. It was the outright chauvinism: FOR A LADY?

Mister, that's a unique attitude for the 21st century. Mister, how dare you assume I'm a lady? Mister, I'm not like those other girls. Mister, FUCK OFF. I DIDN'T ASK YOUR OPINION.

That's what I meant to say, except I didn't want to be mean. Instead I just said, "I'm a bass player." He said something non-committal in response, and it was then that the indignation set in. It was plain that he knew what it was and what it meant, and that THAT was the thrust of his commentary. If I had a few roses there, or a fairy in flight, or even a nice, Sailor Jerry-type sparrow, he wouldn't have said what he did. Maybe he'd've said: "Your tattoo is nice." or "That butterfly almost looks real!" He wouldn't have said anything about how unusual it was, because, let's be frank: there are lots and lots of tattooed women out there, but our society at large still only wants to accept it if our tattoos conform to the prevailing ideals of delicacy or beauty or femininity.

So, Mister? Yeah, you're right. It's an unusual piece. I play the upright bass in a rockabilly band, and I wreck. You're right. There are not a lot of women doing what I do, and even fewer who proclaim so proudly. You're right. I could have prettied this up with some floral work, or made it smaller, more ethereal, less bold. It's a tough fucking job, though, and I have to be a tough fucking person to do it, and this is a tough fucking tattoo. My ability to play the bass has nothing to do with my tits or my lipstick, and neither does my ink. Thanks for noticing. Now fuck off.


  1. Being mean takes practice, that's all! You can hardly have mastered it in eight days. Better luck next time!

    p.s. if you see that guy again, punch him in the neck for me.

  2. Anonymous1:02 AM

    WELL! The actual nerve of some people's children! I agree that you had every right to be completely and utterly indignant. But I have come to a recognition about people like him - that comment was really jealousy. He is secretly admiring of your kick-ass attitude and is surprised to see it in a woman because he is JEALOUS.

    This doesn't change your original emotional response, obviously! But it may help to simmer down the anger in retrospect, I hope?

    (not hopefully which is HORRIBLE ENGLISH and I know better than to torture you

    I hope it helps - I see him as kinda sad and rather pathetic. Especially since he backed off and wussed out by being so non-committal (sp?) after trying to act semi-confrontational. I won't insult the men I love who know better by lumping him in with them - but I will lump him in with the other idiots who look at our boobs first. :)

    And surprise - you're a nice person who still can have her breath taken away by idiots! Thank the Goddess for that - it's part of why we all love ya so!

    Cass in New Mexico!