Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Bil, of Journal Wunelle fame, recently brought up the idea of tattoos. I tend to agree with him: most of them, along with peircings, are garbage. I constantly tell people to just buy the poster. You can take a poster off the wall.

Certainly, I have a tattoo I would love to get rid of. See below.

But one tattoo really exemplifies the sort of thing tattoos SHOULD stand for (and do, I think, for a portion of people)...

My mother, it is no large secret, has been "generous" in her dating life, and her married life. As a result, there was almost always a new guy around. Most of them were scum, and really used me to get in good with my mother. I was the youngest, and most impressionable.

One man, though, genuinely cared. I am not saying he was perfect, he really wasn't, but he was good to us, and especially to the children. He had three of his own. His name was Charles Milton Running, the third. And his manner, and demeanor belied his proper name. We called him chuck, because, well, he was much more of a chuck than a Charles. He stood somewhere around 6'4", and probably close to 300lbs. Big beard, a tooth missing. He looked every bi the biker he was in his earlier years. But he was, if you'll pardon me the cliche, a gentle giant.

I should pause here to point out that Chuck had a fake leg. When he was 18 he and his brother got into a car accident, severing his leg and rupturing his aorta. As a result, he had a fake leg, just below the knee, and a large cash settlement. Both, I think, play a part in this story.

So, as a result o this cash, he always had big parties, with lots of drunk people. That meant kids, everywhere, running around unattended and, largely, unwanted. We would entertain ourselves as best we could, but really we were bored, most of the time.

Chuck, though, would always try to cheer us up. He would sneak away from his own party, and gather all the kids up. "You kids want to see some NINJA SHIT!" He would bellow. Of course, this trick was old, so we all knew what was coming. Without waiting for an answer, he would get a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom, place it atop his fridge, and kick it off. Standing.

But, of course, he would kick with his real leg. That left 300 lbs of Chuck standing on a fake leg, with no joints. BOOM! he would crash, every single time, to the floor. And since he was drunk, well he was a lot like a turtle once the floor met his back.

Chuck died New Years, seven years ago. My mother was a wreck, and I don't think she will ever recover. This man was really the type that is missed when he is gone. He taught me, on one leg, more about sports than any man except my grandfather. He always took the time to teach. Even when he was in a bad mood. For any and all of his flaws, he was truly a father, and he was one to a kid who he never sired. I missed him, more than I cared to admit.

One day, while drawing random things, I sort of sketched out a fridge. I added the toilet paper, and had a good laugh. This memory came back to me, or rather to the front of my mind, and it was so much a part of Him, I had to share it. I put the tattoo on then. When I showed it to my mother, as far gone as she was, she smiled, then laughed. I didn't need to tell HER the story.

So it was with most the people I knew, who knew him. Everyone had seen his "ninja shit" routine at one time or another. They all smiled, or laughed, or cried, but they all remembered him in their own way.

I never pass up an opportunity to tell this story, and the tattoo lets me do that often. So many people get to know the Chuck I knew from this one little thing. It seemed like the best way I knew to keep him, and share him, and let him go.

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