Hope For Us All

If ever a week’s events were designed to sap all the hope right out of the world, last week was that week.

First of all, despite the fact that the American judicial system actually did seem to work on the founding principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” Caylee Anthony did not find any justice in this world. Not only is her murderer still at large (and I’m not saying I believe Casey Anthony did it for sure), her mother – who did not even bother to report her daughter missing for 31 freaking days – received what amounted to a slap on the wrist for being, arguably, the most inattentive mother in the history of the world (although there appears to have been great detail put into her sweet “Bella Vita” tat she got while her daughter was, oh, I don’t know, somewhere…).

To cap off the week, a 39-year-old man tried to catch a ball for his 6-year-old son at a Texas Rangers baseball game, lost his balance, fell 20-feet over a guard rail, landed on his head, and died on the way to the hospital. To make matters worse (as if that scenario could be any worse), the ball was tossed up to the man by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who had to walk through the hell of drug addiction just to be standing on the field to be able to throw the ball up to the man. Hamilton – a devout Christian – seems to be moving on, although initial reports labeled him as “distraught” (And who wouldn’t be?). Who knows if the 6-year-old ever will?

Oh, and to kind of top things off on a personal level, my mom had to be admitted to the hospital with a low blood-oxygen level.

On Sunday, though, I saw something that restored my hope, something from out of the blue that completely changed my perspective on where everything in this world is headed, something so miraculous it defied all logic.

I saw a dude with a tattoo on his face.

Oh, I’m not talking about some Mike Tyson, Hangover 2 magic marker scribbling around somebody’s eyes. Oh, no, this was a full-face tattoo. It looked like some kind of Mardi Gras mask – except it wouldn’t come off. You know, like, ever. If you’ve ever seen the cover of David Lee Roth’s album Eat ‘Em And Smile (Oh, you own it, you know you do…), it looked kind of like that.

I saw this guy walking around the Books-A-Million in Paducah. People were recoiling as if someone threw a poisonous viper into the middle of the store. Even as accepted as tattoos are these days, you don’t see many people with the stones to put one on their entire face. Maybe it actually stopped somewhere around the hairline. I really don’t know; I, like my fellow shoppers, kept a healthy distance.

So, as I’m browsing the magazine section at the back of the store (By the way, why the crap can’t Books-A-Million put their stuff in some kind of logical, alphabetical order? Finding books in there is like engaging in some weird Between The Lions scavenger hunt.), I hear a guy and a girl talking behind me. While they were being kind of crude with their language, the guy was actually pretty witty, so I turned around to see what he looked like. And that’s when I saw the sight that changed my week and, possibly, my life forever.

The dude with the tattoo on his face was with a girl!

Let me just speak to the single people for a moment here: If the guy who let someone take a needle to his face and draw something that will never be removed without an extreme amount of pain and agony can get a date on a Sunday afternoon, there is hope for anyone! Seriously, what kind of girl sees such a being and says to herself, “Wow, I got to get with that!”? You may have a sixth toe or a third nipple or a tail like Jason Alexander in Shallow Hal, but if Tattoo Face can find someone, my friend, there is abundant hope for you!

I’m really playing up the absurdity of the moment here, but there was something about it that sort of made me think, “You know, maybe everything really will be okay.” Before you roll your eyes at me (Well, you probably did that a few paragraphs ago, but still…), hang with me for just a minute or two. There’s no way (in my mind, at least) that scenario should work. I mean, if you mark up and, basically, mutilate your face and the light of love still sees fit to shine on you, what depth can you descend to where it will not?

Everywhere I went last week, people were stunned in one way or another about the Casey Anthony verdict. A child was murdered, and now we all just go on? For Josh Hamilton, who had probably flipped a hundred balls into the stands over the course of his career, how does he put on the glove and go stand on the same patch of outfield grass he was on when he threw a foul ball up to a dad out at the park having a good time with his son? My dad already died this year, and now my mom is in the hospital, too? What’s next?

What happened was this: Parents, like me (and possibly you) all hugged their kids a little tighter, told them we loved and were proud of them more often, and made sure we were attentive enough to at least know where they were. Josh Hamilton hit a walk-off home run, and tomorrow night he’ll play in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Phoenix, Arizona. And my mom? She’s probably coming home from the hospital tomorrow.

So, to coin a phrase from a beer commercial, here’s to you, Tattoo-On-The-Face Guy, for making me believe again. May you enjoy your life to the fullest, and may you have a wonderful time trying to explain to your children one day what exactly that is on your face.

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