Ugly Tattoos Are Hurting Eyes Everywhere
I t was a warm summer day when Josh walked into the café I was working at in Philly. The café was a perfect combination of coffee shop, bar, and restaurant. It was like Cheers but open all day long and with a much younger, cuter staff. The clientele was an interesting mix of obnoxious fanny-packed tourists, the actors dressed as Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross, who entertained the obnoxious tourists, first dates, and locals. The locals were always our favorites. They tipped the best, were always friendly, and never asked us idiotic questions like “where the hell is my soup?” or “how on earth are you out of strawberry smoothies?”
But the best kinds of regulars were the ones that were cute and hit on us. If you were a single girl, it was an ideal place to be. A never-ending plethora of men streamed through the café, hanging out for hours on end while they read the paper or worked on their latest novel. I had just broken up with somebody, so I was eager to get back in the game.
When Josh walked in, all the girls let out a collective “OMG” gasp. He was tall, with short brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and full sleeve tattoos. For a group of women who all harbored a predilection for all things rocker related, he was a vision. A vision that I wanted, other girls be damned.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to fight too hard because the hostess Stephanie, unaware of my plotting, sat him in my section. I’m sure had she known I wanted to shag him she would have sat him anywhere but my section as she was the type who loved to cockblock.
“Hey, I’m Rachel. Do you know what you’d like to order?” That sentence sounds wholly unsexy when written, but it sounded very flirty when it came out of my mouth.
“Hey Rachel,” he said with a shit-eating grin. “I’d like to order a really hot cappuccino.”
“OK, coming right up,” I said with a smile.
Since the café was relatively empty, I decided to sit down and chat with him. The café where I worked was abnormally lenient as far as our behavior was concerned. From giving the homeless free coffee and bagels to fraternizing with the patrons to singing loudly, our managers who often would flirt with us could have cared less what we did. I think I could have just taken a nap on one of the sofas and no one would care.
“So do you live around here?” I asked.
“Actually, I live in Northern Liberties. But I work down the street at Thai Mama.” Thai Mama was the latest and hottest Asian fusion restaurant in the city.
“Are you a waiter too?” I asked.
“Nope, I’m a chef.”
I was officially swooning. Josh was hot and he could cook. Could it get any better? We continued chatting until the patrons at the other tables started coming up to me and asking for things like forks and glasses of water. So annoying.
He stayed until the end of my shift a couple of hours later and asked me for my phone number. I gave it to him and went home floating on cloud 9. Or maybe cloud 100. We went out the following week. He wowed me with stories of kitchen backstabbing and his latest creations, and I dazzled him with stories of me dumping sour mix into some bitchy customer’s to-go drink.
Deciding that I wanted to remain chaste as I actually liked him, all we did was kiss the first night. He dropped me off at home, and we made plans for a second date.
The next day at work I was telling Vietnam Bob (the homeless Vietnam vet who frequented our café for free coffee and faucet “baths”) all about my date when he said “I don’t know about that one honey. He seems off…”
“But he’s so cute!” I protested.
“He just seems a little weird,” Bob said not offering anything specific.
I was a little peeved at Vietnam Bob’s Debbie Downer attitude, but then again he loved my ex, so I chalked it up to bias.
Our second date was even better than the first. Partially perhaps because I was toasted this time and also because I was sure I was falling in love. Here was this hot tattooed star chef on a date with ME! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops like one of the Allies after the fall of Germany. Take that ex-boyfriend! When the magical third date came, I knew it was finally time to do the deed.
Things were getting hot and heavy when he decided to pull his shirt off. I immediately gasped. In my head that is. A giant smiley cauliflower with a face staring at me from his right side. I stopped and squinted. Surely that couldn’t be right. It was dark, and I was prone to bad vision. But nope there it was loud and proud. And then I realized not only was there a cauliflower, but there was also a zucchini, a tomato, and broccoli! There was a whole damn cornucopia of tattooed smiling vegetables staring at me! They weren’t even evil vegetables, which theoretically might be OK. They were smiling like rejects from Sesame Street.
“Wow, those are some interesting tattoos you have there,” I remarked.
“Oh yeah, I just wanted something to represent my passion for cooking. So, I figured why not vegetables?” he explained.”
“They’re so…smiley,” I said hesitantly.
“I’ve got another tattoo on this side too,” he said motioning to his back. It was a BARNEY TATTOO. As in Barney the Purple Dinosaur.
“Oh wow, why Barney?” I asked now becoming very nervous and fearful.
“Barney is my middle name.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love tattoos, but bad tattoos were not OK under any circumstances. I pictured going to the beach together as people pointed and laughed at him. What would I tell our future kids? How could I look at him with a straight face? And more importantly, how could I let his P anywhere near my V?
I had to get out. We made out a little more before I stopped him.
“I’m sorry I don’t think I’m ready to do this. I just broke up with someone not that long ago and this just feels weird.” I made a really sad face.
“Oh, uh OK. That’s cool. We can stop.”
“Sorry. Well I’ll see you around.” And with that I hightailed it out of there.
Thankfully Josh never stopped in again. But it took me a long time to get used to eating cauliflower again.
 I was too young to fully realize the double standard of this line of thinking. If a guy would seriously consider not dating someone they slept with on a first date, he’s got bigger issues. Side note, I know three happily married couples who started slept together on the first date.
 The actor who played Barney, David Joyner, is now a tantric sex masseuse. Did you just barf in your mouth? You’re welcome.
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Photo courtesy of discopalace / Flickr.