Web writes: "I am a retired journalist of many years and now am a book author living in Portland, OR, and Tucson, AZ."
I’m not one to ogle a pretty lass on the street. However I did so a couple of weeks ago and it impressed me in the strangest way.
I had walked to the local post office—a round trip is about a mile—and this time I had taken a little different way home, going past a popular department store on Halsey Street.
I had crossed busy Halsey where there was no traffic light, instead of waltzing all the way down to the corner where there was one. I had jaywalked to the sidewalk on the north side and had begun to walk east when I saw her.
She was about 25 yards beyond me, going east on Halsey. She looked about 16—maybe 20—and had on shorts. Actually “the shorts” appeared to be cut-off jeans, rolled high. Tight. She had nice-looking legs—although perhaps I have seen even better through the years— but there was something wrong with it all.
Though a passing fancy, I stared anyway. She had a large, deeply cut tattoo on her leg, and it made her look old. Although she was wearing black-and gold socks (almost knee high), they didn’t come up high enough to cover the tattoo.
The tattoo was ugly and didn’t help her looks at all.
I had to ponder, why would a girl do that… ruin her attractiveness?
The question of why bothered me, not because I found her mildly attractive, but because I could not see a motive. That tattoo scar was huge, and very scarring.
I soon turned a corner and that was that. I saw her no more.
However, her leg scarring continued to bother me. And I pondered it off and on for a few days.
Along about Saturday, I found myself half way across town just outside the Pink Elephant tavern, near the corner of Glenn Avenue and Killingsworth Street.
I had been surveying my old sometimes neighborhood and although the area had been forever unchanging since my childhood, now it at last had begun to bend a little.
Nevertheless, it was a rare hot, muggy day in Portland, and I decided to have a beer or an iced tea at my old watering trough. The neighborhood had changed a little and yet it hadn’t. Huh? Sounds like a contradiction.
Well, that’s often the case when one gets to be 70, and goes back to old haunts to square memories. First of all, most memories probably aren’t accurate. Secondly, one tends to remember only the good things. And the bad stuff seldom surfaces in a short visit. Moreover, nobody there anymore probably remembers anyone you would want to talk about.
I went in the Pink’s new oaken front door that fronted Killingsworth. I immediately saw Angela, my ersatz friend.
She was physically attractive enough — looking fetching in shorts and a brief black halter, draped over an ample chest. Moreover, she had a dazzling smile, a comely face, and always spoke in a cool alto-like voice.
However, it wasn’t her looks that attracted me, it was her cool demeanor, and how cheerful and understanding she was of people of all ages. She always spoke well of people, and never seemed to be negative.
I liked Angela a lot. The fact that she was physically attractive did not hurt either, but that wasn’t the reason I wanted to talk to her. She had wisdom beyond her, say… 30 years. I had questions about on-going sociological changes among our young people. And I figured she might have some answers. So it was worth a try.
After gulping down a big iced tea, I was still fumbling around at the counter. She came back down the coffee bar and said she had a break in about five minutes.
I said, “Good. I need to have a chat.”
She nodded and wandered off.
After five minutes she was still at the bar, leaning on its curve and talking to a young guy. And I thought, shoot, she’ll forget all about our proposed chat. I dwelled on that some, acknowledging that she certainly would rather chat and flirt with a young stud, who looked like he might be an athlete.
However, I was sort of wrong. After another five minutes, she came over and said, “Let’s go across the street.”
So we went out the 33rd Avenue side door, then south a block, and across Emerson Street and 33rd Avenue to the coffee shop in New Seasons Market.
We both got Big Gulp coffees and repaired to the tables. We watched as the throngs of working class women, men and their families came and went. The Market was popular.
Finally, we began to talk about stuff we usually talked about. (I was mystified by the values and attitudes of a lot of the young people.)
She always had ready answers, and saw a bit of humor in it all.
I told her about the young woman I had seen—with reasonably slim, curvy legs who had destroyed her attractiveness with an ugly tattoo scar. “Why?” I asked.
Angela squinted, and went into deep thought: “Well,” she said. “Young people today have different values than you and I remember. It’s chick now to look… well… ‘embattled.’”
“Yeah,” she said. “Let’s say you are young, and often don’t get invited to a prom or some social event. That’s when you sometimes go into subtle self promotion. If you can look as if you just got a quick roll in the hay or got attacked at the beach, you have aroused a new level of public curiosity not only from the boys but the girls as well.
“Others may not be able to pinpoint it, but a big tattoo scar does make you look older… more experienced… say, embattled.”
“Yeah, I know,” Angela said. “In our day a lot of women tried to look untouched and pure. But that doesn’t pack any ice anymore.”
“Er, uh,,, you said OUR age. I didn’t think of you and I as being anywhere near the same age,” I said.
“Oh, but we are in some ways. Especially when we talk about public appearances for mores, impressions and so on. The last 5-10 years have seen lots of changes in attitudes. It’s as if society is heading pall mall off a cliff— like Las Vegas.”
Las Vegas. I gave it some thought. Hmmmmm.
We chatted another three or four minutes and then it was time for her to go back to the Pink and pull beer.
I went back on my way.
Two weeks later, I returned.
Angela spotted me the minute I came in the door. She motioned to me to follow her out the side door.
But instead of going up the block to New Seasons, she plopped down at an outside table hard against the north wall of a yoga parlor. There at table side she had a large bag. She reached into it, pulling out a large, leather-bound Bible.
“You know, Jesus sent you to me. I am perhaps the only believer here in the joint and I need someone to talk to… please… you look like you could use a Bible lesson.”
To say I was flabbergasted doesn’t quite cover it. But I was tremendously happy that she was a believer, and that she recognized me as one, too.
For an improved, analytical life based on Christian principles, this seemed like a good starting place.
“Dig it,” I said.
(© 2013 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)