The city of Waterloo received a grant from Vision Iowa to renovate the downtown river area. They have built some beautiful things, including an amphitheater, plaza for a farmer's market and extensive landscaping. A building called Public Market was also part of the project, but I hadn't paid much attention to it. That's where TJ took me to lunch. It's a co-op market for local producers to sell all kinds of foods. Here's a link to their website.
The reason TJ took me to Public Market is that they have a hearty lunch buffet for $5.99! They had Monte Crisco sandwiches, lasagna, chicken alfredo, cheeseburger casserole, etc, etc, etc. Most of the people there were older retired folk. The kind of folk you would expect to support the wholesome goodness of a co-op market. The kind of folk who teach Sunday school, babysit their grandchildren, and meet for coffee. You know what I mean. But there was one guy who I couldn't stop glancing at. He was clean and dressed normally. He wasn't doing anything unusual, just sitting at a table quietly eating his lunch. It was the tattoos that completely covered his face. I'm not phased by most tattoos, but I admit that I am bothered by tattoos above the neckline. Here are some thoughts that were going through my head.
- Those tattoos have completely altered his face to the point where I can't even imagine what he'd look like without them. Was he so unhappy with his face that he wanted to cover it?
- He must not be worried about getting identified in a lineup. So maybe that means he's not a law-breaker.
- What does he do for living? How would he get through job interview?
- What does his mom think? And his grandma? Does his grammy have a picture of him on her fridge to show her friends?
- Are any of the people here at the Public Market afraid of him?
- Is he uncomfortable in a setting like this where no one looks like him?
- I hope he doesn't notice me looking at him. Is it more obvious to look at him or to avoid looking at him?
- Maybe he wants people to look at him. I bet people stare at him a lot.
And the next day at work, I was invited to help deliver some storage storage cabinets to a tattoo shop. Well, guess who happened to be the owner of that tattoo shop. The guy who I had seen all the way across town at the Public Market! He was easy to identify because of the facial tattoos. And he was very nice. I didn't tell him that I'd seen him and had been pondering his choice of artistic expression.
It is as if I am being given a message not to judge the facial tattoo. Sigh. I'll try.