Anyone walking into the shop is silhouetted by the bright light through the glass door and the big windows. Even though I could see her only in outline she radiated. It could have been the very short skirt with tiers of white ruffles.
She wanted a book in the window, and of course it was the furthest in, and the chance of toppling the witty window display Simone and I had assembled for Halloween was too risky.
Our windows are amusing. We have acquired so many chotchkas (Christine, remember I just taught you that word?) that we can decorate the windows for every season and event. We use our tiny articulated Pee Wee Herman whatever the occasion. In the spring he was tucked into a bird’s nest among the eggs, today he is sitting on the edge of the large Lucite cube holding a scroll reading BOO. Each end of the paper is glued to toothpicks slipped into his hands. And there is Dracula in his black satin cape lined in red standing on a large overturned glass vase which has trapped a pumpkin-head clown inside. Every space is filled with books and holiday merriment. I do so enjoy my own jokes.
So I tell this very pretty lady, Nah, I can’t reach it. I can see her poised to offer to reach it, she is easily a foot taller than me, but I cut her off before she suggests it. I am transfixed by her glittering appearance. She has “face jewelry,” if that is the term, and on her it looks, hmmm, interesting. She says she would love to spend more time in the store, and she will be back before she leaves town. I was sorry to see her walk out – I wanted to ask her about her face.
She came back the next day! I had a change of heart. I removed something from the window so that she can take a large but cautious step inside and she retrieves the book, easier to do because now she is in tight black pants, no ruffles. It was some spooky title about Quebec, and she has a friend in Quebec to send it to. We went back to my desk, and now that I had a second chance, I peppered her with the questions about all the shiny stuff.
I told her I wanted to do a blog about it, and she enthusiastically participated in my education.
First, the gold rod that ran across the ear, the rod itself piercing through the curly edges of the ear in two places. She said it is called industrial piercing and she rolled it to show me it’s of one piece.
She had two large circular earrings in each ear, each earring about 2” in diameter. One was a gold ring with multiple tiny gold leaves hanging from it, with the wire entry through the lobe that all of us ladies (and some men) are familiar with. The other one. Well. It was abalone shell, about ¼” thick, and she showed me that she could slide it around in the hole in her ear. You push the whole fat thing into its hole. She removed it to show me the hole. I think I screamed, “Yuch,” and grabbed my belly. The hole is almost pencil thick. She said it is O gauge. And, yes, it could grow back together if she chose to remove those earrings, she thinks.
You’ve seen the others, the tiny ring through one nostril, the flat teardrop against the other nostril, the ring through the bottom lip. Here was a cute one – above the top lip and to the side toward the cheek. “Is that a stud?” I asked.
“It’s a Monroe, a stud called Monroe,” she said. “What’s a Monroe?” I asked. She said, “Like in Marilyn.” Yes! Remember the “beauty mark” on Marilyn Monroe’s face? In the olden days, ladies would take a black beauty pencil, and mark a black dot near the mouth in an attempt to approximate that bewitching look. Now it is a little gold ball inserted through the skin near the lip. “Anything else?” “Well, yes, the belly button ring. That was the first piercing.” “Did all this hurt when they do it?” “Sure,” she said.
Mind you, this kid’s a beauty. She’s got very short curly black hair with a very large hair bow at the side, and a single 21” long dreadlock (I took out the ruler) hanging offside. I asked whether it was a hair extension. No, that’s her own hair. When she shaved her head (!) she left that single section twisted into a dreadlock. She decided to let her hair grow back. I asked, suspicious, “If it’s your own hair, how come the end is yellow, and red, and green?” “Oh,” she said, “I used to color it. I don’t anymore.”
So let’s see. Do we have it all? Just two more things, the long tattoo on her arm with her elbow in the middle of it, and she patiently pulled up her shirt to show me the beautiful green tree that covers her back. She mentioned the little tattoo on her buttock, her first tattoo.
I said “You’re a young kid now. So what will happen when you look at yourself in the mirror when you are 47?” She said, “I’m not a young kid. I’m 27.”
Really? I had thought she was, what, 19?
A new set of questions. School? Colorado College. Major? Sociology. Work? A couple of years at Trader Joe’s. So how come you live in New Orleans now? “A group of us, seven friends and me, went to help out after Hurricane Katrina. I stayed because I fell in love with New Orleans.”
“What do you do there?” Three guesses, folks. “I play guitar.” “You sing?” “Yes, I sing.”
I looked at this radiant young woman with her glittering adornment. “Why did you do it?”
She said, “It is an exercise in humility. And non-attachment.”
Well. We each do it our own way.