Fun and humor will find you, Uncle Woofie writes, even while you’re trying to earn a buck.
I have come to the conclusion that this joint could use some more laughs. I mean really use some more laughs. Or at the very least some more fun. You remember fun, don’t you? Sure you do! It was that way you escaped a serious world that thinks most of us would be better off with part-time gigs snapping two-by-fours in half with our ass-cheeks down at the Home Depot. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t indulge in a serious topic occasionally, but one of the things I’d really like to do here is re-introduce the concept that funny, relatively harmless things happen at the intersections where women and men meet. This is one such story.
One of the skills at my disposal is freehand airbrushing. It’s where the cartoon I use for my by-line photo comes from. I’m sure most of you have seen this skill demonstrated on vacation and at other tourist destinations. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the “smart” proprietors of these establishments feature the artist in a high-visibility fashion. This is because after all the years I’ve been doing this, even I have to admit it can be fascinating to watch a shirt being airbrushed. An invisible stream of paint that even the artist doesn’t see until it hits the shirt is used to create whatever the customer wants.
I like to think of airbrushing as being in the business of selling people a little fun, delight, or joy, as well as providing some free entertainment for potential customers. Many times, as you will soon see, the artist involved in selling the fun can have some fun as well, simply doing his or her job.
Freehand airbrushing is not easy to learn. I had a stock answer to the eternal question, “How’d you learn how to do this?”
“I learned how to airbrush by inventing cuss words never before heard by human ears.”
I’d follow that with a quick explanation of how many rolls of plain, white papers towels I “killed” developing my skills.
After such arduous efforts to learn their craft, airbrush artists are compensated not only in money for what they do but in the great stories behind the shirts and other items people ask us to create. So I’m gonna tell you one of my favorites.
Two or three years ago, I had a kiosk out in the center concourse of a small regional mall. I had just returned to the kiosk after picking up my dinner from the Chinese joint around the corner when I noticed a good-sized group of women of various types and ages frolicking around. At the center of the group was a curvy young woman in her early-to-mid-twenties decked out like a refugee from some out-of-control Mardi Gras party. This included a big floppy hat, a strategically tight t-shirt, Daisy Duke-grade cut-off jean-shorts, knee-socks and high-heels, of all things, and enough of those Mardi Gras bead necklaces to imply that she had performed the traditional act that earns women those beads. Many, many times over. Then, it hit me. I had heard of the phenomenon I was witnessing, but never really expected it to play out in front of me.
It was a “roving” Bachelorette Party.
At the moment, they had the “Guest of Honor” (or victim, depending how you look at it) running around collecting all the male phone numbers she could by any means possible. Sort of a combination of good-natured embarrassment via party-crew peer pressure and scavenger hunt. One of the women closest to my kiosk explained what they were out doing and she apologized if they were affecting my business. She also mentioned that the bachelorette in question was about to become an “Army Wife.” I told her no apology was necessary since its not often I get dinner (as I gestured to my Styrofoam tray of Chinese food) and a show (as I made a broad, sweeping gesture to their entire party crew). She laughed. What I didn’t tell them was they were about to become some of my “business,” at least as far as a sale was concerned.
Some of the other ladies noticed the conversation I was having with their party-time compatriot and got curious about what I had to offer, so I explained the concept of an airbrush shop, then made them the following deal for a memento for the bride to be.
“Ladies, now that I know what you’re doing here, I have a proposition for you and the ‘Guest of Honor.’ I will do a shirt for her for 35 dollars that all of you will like, and think is funny and appropriate as a bachelorette party gift, or I return your money. However, in the spirit of your celebration, the only condition that I will impose is that you will accept what I and I alone decide to shoot for her.” I folded my arms and awaited their answer with a cryptic smile.
I got my answer in the form of several of the party women doing the adult equivalent of jumping up and down while clapping like a child that’s found out she’s going to Disneyworld. Fun, even for the artist, strikes again.
“Do it! Do it!” So they ponied up the bucks and watched. There was one question I needed to ask for what I had in mind to work, and it involved a mildly sensitive issue directed at the future bride. This was in the interest of “accuracy” concerning the design I had in mind.
“I only ask this because of the way your entourage has chosen to deck you out, and it’s important to the artwork I plan to create on your shirt. Did they saddle you with, let’s just say, ‘enhanced’ qualities of a physical nature?”
Bless her heart, she shot back with obvious pride and posture to match “This is all me, honey.” See? More fun.
So, with a courteous, bemused nod, I set about my task, with a shirt large enough to double as a night-shirt if she wanted.
As the artwork progressed, they realized what I had decided to create. Even the bachelorette realized why I’d asked her such an odd, dicey question about her ample “rack,” since it was obvious how it played into the artwork and design as it took shape on the shirt. Considering her figure, the cartoon design I created assured that this was her shirt and no one else’s. They laughed, giggled, cheered, and thought what I came up with was cute as hell, especially considering the mission of the evening’s festivities. Some of the older women even made a deliberate point of telling me that individually as they were leaving the booth. Fun, as promised, was delivered. I was happy as well as delighted I’d been given a cameo role in their celebration.
Hell, I didn’t even give a damn that my food was cold.
One of the reasons I wanted to share this particular story (outside of the sheer amusement factor) is that I thought it was wonderful that these good ladies (especially the older women as I had pointed out in the last paragraph) had such a hearty good time and displayed not one shred of hesitance or trepidation over that fact. I can remember earlier eras when I was a young child that would’ve made this a self-conscious issue for women (even under the conditions of a group) that would’ve either severely restricted the wonderful time they were having, or turned their party into a closed-door affair, not daring to take their good time and harmless fun “on the road.”