Habitues of the Golden Bear Cafe & Hash House down on Starkey reflect the surrounding demographic: old, ancient, paleolithic. Those on their way out are served their eggs and flapjacks by those on their way in. Occasionally, someone founders in the resulting turbulence.
Sunday mornings, ol' Jasper holds court for those who will listen.
"Howdy, Miss Lorraine. Lovely new walking stick you're sporting."
"Jimbo, do you believe I finally sold that old Harley? Had that thing since '63. Still starts on the first kick."
"Mary, you look just like my third daughter."
Mary is 75 if she's a day. But she blushes and nods. Or maybe that tremor is back.
Wait staff at the Bear are hardened vets, except for Amber, whose shyness whispers around her like a lace veil. She flusters when she brings Judy a bagel toasted instead of grilled or fills my cup with high-test instead of the damned decaf I've been drinking. She is awkward beyond the time when awkward is her due. She's a sweetheart through and through.
I watched this week as Amber delivered Jasper's eggs Benedict, cooked soft, with home fries done not-too-dark. He pointed to her upper arm as she leaned in to fill his coffee. "What's that there?"
"A-an owl," she stammered.
"Oh." Long pause. "Hmmph." The twinkle dropped out of Jasper's eyes, and his opinion was clear. A tattoo on a sweet young thing like that...
Amber didn't respond and went about her business. Judy and I hung around after Jasper finally made his imperial way to the door. I invited Amber to sit with us for a minute.
Her tattoo is a pixelated owl in soft pastels, after an embroidery that her grandmother had made when she was born. It evokes another age in a modern medium. The huge eyes mirror her own.
I told her my tattoo story, the one I told you last week, trying not to dodder while I did so. She brightened a bit, and so did my day. Funny the different ways what goes around comes around.
That's all -- no more tattoo stories.