I have a thing for flamingos. And it turns out others do, too. When we spot each other it’s kinda like a secret handshake. It can be subtle like someone wearing flamingo socks which you notice peeking out from under their jeans. Or it can be blatant like when my friend, Lynn, struts around wearing her famous hat that extends about two feet in the air. Okay, she only wears it after we down a few bottles of “pink,” our code name of bubbly rosé.
It started with Mary, a friend who used to live in Capitola. The same Mary who started saying “Perf” which I also adopted. She now lives in Newport Beach and I can still hear her voice in my head, “You’re so mental,” when I would tell her of my escapades. Me? Mental? I take that as a compliment. I don’t think she’s still into flamingos and I seriously doubt she got a tattoo but she sure gets some brilliant ideas which I could steal. Gotta look her up soon.
Speaking of tattoos…I’ve been known to fling up my top and whip around to my back to show off my shoulder tattoo to fellow flamingo lovers. One lady was bragging about the little flamingo she had tattooed on her wrist as she sat at the ocean-view table next to mine.
“Oh yeah? Well, how do ya like this?” I quipped as I flung off my top and whipped around to show her my back. Of course, I was wearing a sports bra underneath and it was after several libations on Zelda’s deck, our Capitola go-to Happy Hour spot. I’m as shocked as anyone when I see it, which is rare since it’s on my back. When I went to the tattoo parlor to commemorate my seventieth birthday, I had no idea how enormous it was going to be. The artist, named Aiden from F U Tattoo in Santa Cruz, showed me the sketch ahead of time and it was a happy, cute flamingo — just what I wanted. We didn’t discuss size. I pictured like a two-incher.
He had me on the gurney-like table face-down for quite some time as I gritted my teeth pretending I was floating in the warm turquoise waters of Magens Bay in the Virgin Islands. Yeah, it hurts like hell so I had to trick myself. Anybody who tells you it doesn’t hurt is lying. I endured the torture for a really long time and finally, with the final swipe of the cleaning towel, he said, “All done,” he beamed as he thrust out a hand mirror. “There’s a big mirror on the wall. Check it out.”
I was momentarily stunned when I saw the happy, cute flamingo covering half my back. Quickly realizing there was no point in discussing the size with sweet Aiden, I simply blew out a breath, flashed a huge grin and squealed, “I love it!”
So, what’s with all the flamingos? Each and every one carries a story or triggers a memory. Take the lady named Suzanne whom I have never met. I bought my first Caribbean Hook bracelet from her over ten years ago, maybe fifteen. I became a loyal customer and she started reading my blog. After reading some of my flamingo stories she sent me a beautiful Christmas ornament a few years ago. Her note said, “You simply must have this. I can never see a flamingo without thinking of you.”
Over the years I have continued to order the bracelets and Suzanne has continued to read my blogs. And then the blogs stopped. I wrote “Back From the Brink of Death” and then didn’t write another word for months. Suzanne gently nudged me with a note. Still, I wrote nothing. A month later a package arrived in the mail. It was from Suzanne See Tai, my bracelet lady. In the box were flamingos — happy, cute flamingos. I vowed to write a blog.
I started one. Didn’t finish. I started another. Didn’t finish. I left it alone. I composed some in my mind but never made it to the page — until last Monday when I broke the ice over a Chinese restaurant. The response from you, dear readers, was overwhelming. Thank you for welcoming me back, supporting and encouraging me, and fueling me to keep writing.
As to Suzanne, I only know she’s from Kentucky and sells stuff on eBay. I have no idea what she looks like. Is she fat or skinny? Old or young? White, black, brown, or pink? Don’t know, don’t care. I do know that she is a beautiful spirit and fills my heart with joy. I am humbled by her generosity and support; by her belief in me. Plus she sent me an adorable stuffed flamingo with big blue eyes and a shiny gold beak. I can’t resist the shiny things. She sits on my key rack overseeing my flamingo key chains one of which was a recent gift from a dear friend. The little beaded charmer has its own story which is coming soon.
Whoo hoo! I’m writing again. Carole Jean is back. Let the capers continue.