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The Village Idiot

This retirement thang

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

"But oh Lord, we pay the price

With the spin of a wheel, with the roll of the dice

Ah yeah, you pay your fare

And if you don't know where you're going

Any road will take you there"

-George Harrison

(9/2017) I heard DW's da say it several times, "Whatever you think retirement is, it isn't."

So I decided I'd not retire. Nope. I'd just drop dead at work.

Ha! I shoulda known. Few plans ever survive intact when confronted with reality. None of my plans have -ever. Of course the factory would close before I collapsed -a lifeless pile of old bones and worthless meat before the spray booth. Of course none of the businesses outside of factory work need a balding, gray bearded, pot bellied, six-eyed macaque not worth the mandated minimum wage cluttering up their work areas.

Sooo forced retirement it is.

The offspring asks me, "Enjoying retirement, eh?"


I'm just existing. Though of late I've been trying to slow the state of entropy I have found myself in. A thirty or forty minute walk each morning after dropping the DW at her parents' house to get their day started is becoming routine. With joints popping and muscles complaining I feed the beasts and ready myself for the morning's amble. With luck I'm out the front door by 6 AM. Camera in hand, I todder off looking for subjects to capture with megapixies, or pixels -depending on what I believe is happening inside the camera on any given morning. Home before the traffic picks up and the noise levels become irritating. A few minutes loading pictures on the Net for family and friends hundreds of miles away and it's breakfast time.

Breakfast has become Asian instant soups of late. Having finally ventured into H-mart in Frederick I've begun exploring a culinary world I'd only glimpsed in Asian cookbooks and nasty instant soups in foam cups bought in supermarkets. I top off the belly tank with a Twinkie if I have it, dried sea weed snacks if I don't. Swallow some vitamins and an occasional pain pill. Then it's nap time until DW needs fetching home.

Lunch -a sea weed based soup I build from scratch and another nap until it's time to grumble down the hill to the tattoo shop where I watch Tattoo Don, Pillar of the Community work his trade. Whether he's drawing a tatt design or pricking the inks into someone's skin there are many aspects of tattooing that I find fascinating and he seems willing, if not eager, to explain everything to me. Everything but why anyone wants a tattoo.

Obviously tattoos are the "in thing", an acceptable adornment that means something different to every individual getting one. I've seen family members sharing a design, mothers have their children's birth colors embedded in their skin as if wearing a bracelet that they are never likely to drop or misplace. People come in groups egging each other on to get their first tattoos. Others come in wanting memorials of loved pets or lost parents. Most have some cool design they want to carry to the grave with them.

When no one else is in the shop, Don and I get to talking about our childhoods and how we have come to be where we are. Him -passionate about tattooing, me -wondering if I'll ever figure out why I'm here.

"Jack, in the time I've known you I've watched you move from one interest to another. You've brought fantastic breads to the shop. Your New Orleans style muffaletta and bourbon banana cakes with honey butter frosting are to die for. Don't bring any more of them please!

"You're passionate about gardening and I think you'd make a great teacher if you ever find the right people to build your youth garden with. You know how to turn water in to wine! You're interested in topics most people never think about!

"Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you're supposed to learn a little about everything? That you're a facilitator?"

I ponder that idea. Don has remarked that my chatter distracts some of his clients from the unpleasantness of having their skin traumatized for the sake of a tattoo. And my fascination with the flash (pictures tattooers base their work on) has jump started First Sister back to paints and brushes. The koi she's worked into fabric and sent north left us agape.

"Do you think your sister would consider letting me sell her shirts out of the shop?"

And away I go sending tattoo flash by the dozens, arguing and cajoling until I get a "We'll see. I really like the various styles of tattoos, and painting the shirts for you is giving me the opportunity to learn a new medium. You always ask me to paint weird stuff. Which I do because it forces me to expand my skills.

"Let me think about it. Every other time I've tried to make money off some craft I've ended up losing money!"

Ahha! I introduce First Sister to Don via the Internet. With me and my lack of business expertise out of their way they decide First Sister will do a series of t-shirts with flash that appeals to women. Flowers and brightly colored birds in the Japanese style before moving along to clockworks and owls. But first she has to finish a fourth fish for me, and a tiger, and a crane. All of which will hang in the tattoo shop so we can gauge peoples' responses and determine a price point.

First Sister understands that Don will never sell enough shirts, nor can she paint enough, to make a living off of. Best scenario, First Sister will expand her artistic knowledge, make enough cash to pay for her supplies and have some pocket money left over. The tatt shop will draw in some new clients as word gets around the shirts are only available there. And I continue my destiny.

Yep. I'm cool with being a facilitator. Not a bad way for a gray bearded, balding, pot bellied, six-eyed macaque to survive a forced retirement. (Though it pays nothing toward buying a bottle of now-and-then bourbon.)

Should the straw bale garden tomatoes and peppers ripen before first frost, and the pole and runners beans fill a few pods I'll be jazzed enough to reconsider taking another shot at getting a youth market garden up and running.

Oh. Last Brother is building a fishing rod for me that I will eventually need some kidlet to pass it along to. Which likely means an IWLA kid will end up with it since this burg doesn't seem to produce kids interested in much other than their little 'borg phones.

"And if you don't know where you're going

Any road will take you there"

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.