Gloria’s Bad Choices – Pandora
At 25, Gloria knew she had the world on a string. But now pushing 50, the string was clearly frayed. If only she hadn’t taken the dare and gotten the tattoo.
“I mean everyone was getting facial tattoos in the early 2010s,” she’d offer as an explanation and to assuage the look of horror on whomever’s face she was seeing react to her own decorated visage.
But the fact remained that Gloria was having a harder and harder time hiding, let alone explaining, why she had a full color tattoo of a prancing unicorn across her now fairly wrinkled forehead.
“They were such magical and beautiful creatures that had gone extinct,” she would explain to the befuddled men teetering on their well worn bar stools after the headband was off. “I just wanted to always be able to see one when I looked in the mirror. Give myself a little boost.” She slid their money into a special envelope under the bar.
But the truth was Gloria had gotten the tattoo much the same way she had lived her life: without any planning or thought. On a drunken night celebrating her 27th birthday, Gloria and the girls (Mandy, Cindy, and Kelly) had gone drinking in Ballard and were out to cause some trouble. But like always, Gloria didn’t know when to stop. She always had to do twice the shots, sleep with twice the men and generally one up every girl she knew. So when cutesy Mandy shrieked, “We should all get ankle tattoos of our favorite mythical creature,” Gloria just threw back another shot of Fireball whiskey and yelled: “Dibs on Unicorns!” as she grabbed her purse ran out the door to the tattoo parlor next door.
The rest of the girls slowly gathered their belongings, and paid the bar bill and put on some fresh lipstick and basically took their time getting themselves over to the Dragon’s Den tattoo parlor. No one really wanted to feel the sting of a tattoo needle.
“Oh. My. God!” Cindy uttered as they entered. Gloria was already up on the table and the tattoo artist was bent over her face with the needle working on the tattoo. “What the hell Glor?”
“Yeah, are you nuts?” chimed in quiet Kelly who really didn’t have any good feelings towards Gloria since she’d slept with her boyfriend Mark the week before, causing them to break-up. But even this was too much.
“Jeeze ladies! You know you’re just jealous I got the unicorn!” Gloria yelled over the whine of the tattoo needles.
“I don’t feel so good,” squeaked Mandy as she edged for the door.
The next day when Gloria woke up with a world-class hang-over and felt the bandage on her face, she first thought the girls had Punk’d her for her birthday. But as she edged the bandage back from her forehead and peered in the dim light of her bathroom she saw the unmistakable spiral horn peeking out.
She never saw Mandy again after the night of the tattoo. And while she did see Kelly, it was only after Mark had returned to her, fleeing facing the horror of the unicorn tattooed on Gloria’s face. Cindy had tried to remain friends with her, but the tattoo just really became too distracting for even Cindy.
Now some 20 odd years later Gloria tended bar in the same bar that they had gone to for her birthday that fateful night. She made pretty good tips tending bar, especially the nights the groups of young drunk 20-somethings would parade in with the $5 & $10 bills already in their fists. Gloria charged $5 to see just the horn and $10 for the whole show. She was just a few hundred short of the $5000 she needed to have the whole thing lasered off.
“Then,” she’d tell herself, “my life will finally be back on track.”