Three months into her legal separation, Charlotte began seeing that there might be some advantages to being single. A loss of appetite had helped her to lose 27 pounds, which in turn meant a new wardrobe. Her first purchase was a pair of white jeans. People were beginning to take notice of her. For so long she had faded into the woodwork. At church a widowed acquaintance made an offhand comment regarding the unfairness of her own weight gain and Charlotte’s weight loss. Before she could censor herself Charlotte blurted out, “That’s because your friends stocked your fridge with enough comfort food to carry you through to next year. Women never bring food to divorcees because divorce might be a communicable disease.” As she said this, she made a mental note to start a ministry to bring meals to women whose husbands took a powder; however, she quickly rejected the idea because one could never be too thin.
The next best thing about being alone was being able to do whatever she pleased without having to justify her actions to anyone. The feeling of freedom was exhilarating. She ordered a yoga video. Her husband had forbidden her to try a yoga class at the local Y siting its ungodliness. As she struck her warrior pose in her den, she murmured some quick prayers and hoped she wouldn’t go to Hell. But she felt the most rebellious when she made an appointment at the neighborhood tattoo parlor.
The first Friday of Lent Charlotte accompanied by two friends bravely took a walk on what she perceived to be the wild side. Once their car was parked, the three middle aged women donned sunglasses and quickly made their way into the tattoo parlor. As they stepped into the shop all activity stopped and every eye in the place was trained on them. The woman behind the counter was manlier than any man Charlotte had ever known. She was dressed in leather and had closely cropped scarlet hair. She took a long drag of her cigarette and sized the ink virgins up with her narrowed eyes. “Can I help you, ladies?” she said in a gravelly and slightly intimidating voice.
Charlotte began nervously chattering. “Um, hey, my name is Charlotte and I have an appointment to get a tattoo. I called yesterday and set it up. This is my first tattoo, and I heard y’all were the best in town. I have a design…”
The woman stopped Charlotte’s prattling with a motion of her hand and pointed to a tattered curtain at the back of the store. “Go behind that curtain. Brandon will be your artist.” With that, the woman turned her attention to a man with what looked to be a bolt coming from his bottom lip.
Charlotte wasn’t sure she wanted to go behind that curtain. Once back there who knew what awaited the women, but she had come this far and she wasn’t chickening out. Her friends were right beside her egging her on. It was easy for them. They weren’t risking hepatitis. They were content to live this experience vicariously through her, and they wanted to see this through. After the acquisition of the tattoo they had reservations at a hipster downtown restaurant where they would have the fish of the day. It was Friday after all.