The Chronicles of Kate & The Grit Girls: 6

We Grit Girls like to go have fun. Not just weekends away by ourselves, but we love a trivia night, shopping, comedy clubs, even visiting coffee shops. Anything to escape our reality for a bit.

So one night we decided we were going for a Grit Girls tattoo. Listen, y’all. This was quite the adventure before and during the process.

We were at All Aboard Coffee, a little shop that had coffee, ice cream and other little treats. It had been an old train stop back in the day, but when the train tracks were moved, the building sat abandoned for several years before the Kincaid family bought it, fixed it up, and put in a train-themed coffee shop.

It was a Tuesday night and all the kids were either at an activity or at home with their fathers. It was marvelous.

“Let’s get matching tattoos,” Frankie Ann suggested out of the blue.

“Matching tattoos?” Delia looked dubious.

“Of what?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Frankie Ann said, thinking. “Grits?”

“I don’t think a tattoo of a bowl of grits would look too appealing,” Delia pointed out.

We all thought a moment and sipped our coffee.

An idea came to me. “How about arrows? They’re really in right now.”

The other two shook their heads. Frankie Ann said it was too passe and would be forever reminiscent of the 2010s. She was not wrong.

“Forks,” Delia said plainly.

“Forks?” This from Frankie Ann.

Delia nodded. “Forks. I read this story, I’ll send it to you, about a woman who said to keep your fork. Because when you go out to eat and you keep your fork, that means the dessert is still coming. The best is yet to come. Forks mean the best is yet to come.”

“They do?” I asked, scrunching up my nose.

She huffed as she thought. “So the story is that a woman was dying and she wanted to be buried with her fork. The pastor asked why. She said because when you’re eating and the waiter says to keep your fork, it’s because the best is yet to come. Cake or pie or whatever. And even though she was sick and dying, she knew the best was yet to come in heaven. And she wanted everyone to see the fork in her casket and ask what was up with that. And then pastor would explain what the fork meant.”

Frankie Ann made a face showing her unsurity. “I like it. It’s a sweet story. But it’s a fork.”

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Fork Art

I shrugged. “I think it’s fun. And just like the woman in the story, people will ask, ‘Why do you have a fork tattoo?’ And we can tell them because the best is yet to come.”

Delia got that wild look in her eyes that always popped up when she got excited about something. “Let’s do it!”

Now, here’s the part where I tell you that I have a tattoo already. Four little hearts for my four precious children (yes, they drive me crazy, but I do love them) on my wrist. It hurt like the dickens, but I survived. Delia and Frankie Ann do not have tattoos. They have no idea what they’re in for.

“I’ll do it,” I said, downing the last of my coffee. “I can call the place over on Knorr Drive and make us an appointment for Friday. Can y’all do Friday?”

“Yes!” Delia was a little over excited.

“Listen, I can get over the fork. And I love you two. But I was raised that tattoos were for sailors and loose women,” Frankie Ann told us.

“Not anymore,” I said with a laugh. “I have a tattoo. And you know the youth pastor has tattoos. So it’s not a sin if pastors can have them.”

That was the truth. Our youth pastor, Keaton Brickly, had several tattoos, including a band of crosses encircling his bicep. He also had a Greek alpha on his left shoulder and an omega on the right. With Savannah being in the youth group now, I had seen the young man in nothing but swim trunks at a carwash fundraiser. He was recently married to a lovely little girl named Madison who had her nose pierced.

“Let me talk to Ewan first before I commit, okay?”

We agreed. How could we not? But Delia told me to go ahead and make the appointment for Friday night. There’s nothing like telling a gruff sounding tattooed man that a trio of moms will be coming in for fork tattoos. I had to repeat it three times before he caught on that I really was saying fork.

Frankie Ann got the okay for the tattoo as long as it was somewhere discreet. FA decided to get it on her hip just about where a bathing suit would hit. Delia said she was going to get her fork on her ribs, which has been a popular spot among twenty-somethings. She has the figure for it, though, so why not? I decided on my foot for this piece. I hoped it wouldn’t hurt too much.

We arrived at Wicked Grin Tattoo early in the evening. I was excited to share a tattoo with my friends. Frankie Ann was talking a million miles a minute. But it was Delia who looked like a deer in headlights.

“I don’t know if I can do this, Kate,” she whispered. Her face was pale and her dark eyes were wide and scared.

“This was your idea,” I reminded her.

She nodded. “Yeah, just an idea. Doesn’t mean we have to actually do it.”

“Frankie Ann is excited. You should be, too,” I tried to coax her.

“I am excited. This is going to be so cool. I know it will hurt, but the hip is a fleshy area, right?” Frankie Ann took a deep breath. She was ready to go.

A burly man with a ZZ Top-style beard and wearing a wifebeater top approached us. His arms were covered in faded tattoos, even his hands. Tattoos covered his neck and he even had a tear tattoo under one of his baby blue eyes. I wondered what his mother thought of his look.

“Y’all ready? Who’s first?” he asked in a deep, rough voice.

I looked at Delia who licked her lips and sighed. She nodded, but looked wobbly on her feet. I, too, felt a little apprehensive. I had gotten the heart tattoos two years prior and didn’t remember what the sensation felt like.

“I’m first,” Frankie Ann announced. She looked positively giddy.

“I think I need liquid courage,” Delia admitted as we walked back with FA.

“You’ll be fine. You can hold my hand. We can go for ice cream after,” I said, trying to bribe her as I would my children.

Tattoo Man pointed to the black chair and FA hopped on it. Delia and I took the stools behind it where we would be out of the way.

We all watched as he readied his equipment, pouring inks, opening a new needle. It was fascinating to watch as he handled his equipment with the care one would expect from a surgeon with his tools.

“A fork, huh?” he asked, breaking our reverie. “Where?”

Frankie Ann gulped. “Um, on my hip?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?” He sounded like a disgruntled teacher chiding a kindergartener.

With a deep breath, FA decided, “Telling. The hip, please.” And with that she pulled down the side of her jeans. “What’s your name?”

“Frank,” he replied. He wiped Frankie Ann’s hip clean.

“No way, my name is Frankie Ann,” she said. “Francesca Annette.”

“Frances Anthony.”

And suddenly the gruff exterior on this man melted away and he became a giant colorful teddy bear. He smiled, showing off perfectly straight, white teeth. His shoulders relaxed and his forehead creases disappeared, while his eyes lit up with what could only be called merriment.

“Let’s get started.”

Frankie Ann make a little noise as the tattoo gun hummed to life. She pinched her eyes shut and braced for impact. Frank gave her a little warning, then he set to work. We watched her face contort as she willed herself to stay still and not go running from the chair. Frank kept her busy talking about his Italian grandmother, Frankie Ann was in heaven discussing her recipe for cannoli.

“I can’t do this, Kate,” Delia said, squeezing my hand.

“You can do this, Delia. And you will. You’re next.”

She looked at me. “Why am I next?”

“You’ve seen that Frankie Ann can do it. And I’m not going next just for you to chicken out at the end. So you get the middle spot,” I told her.

Within two minutes, Frank was done and wiping the extra ink off FA’s hip. He helped her up and pointed to the floor length mirror. She looked in the mirror and began to giggle like a child.

“I love it! Who’s next?”

I spoke up before Delia could, “Delia’s next. Sit in the chair, Delia.”

“I can’t,” she said, again looking like she was caught in crossfire.

“We made a deal, Delia Honeycutt. And this was your idea. Sit,” Frankie Ann demanded.

For his part, Frank looked prepared for Delia to jump at every little movement. He proceeded with caution.

“Tell me why you’re getting forks permanently marked on your bodies,” Frank said, hoping to get her to open up and relax.

“Well, it was a story I read,” she started as he began to ready his equipment again. New needles were opened, new ink poured. Delia patted the inside of one ankle instead of her rib, indicating that was the spot she wanted. Frank cleaned the area.

“So the story was that a woman was dying of cancer or something of the sort. So she went to her pastor to talk about her funeral. And she said she wanted to be buried with a fork in her hand. ‘Why a fork?’ the pastor asked.

“Well, the woman told him that whenever she was eating, the waiter would tell her to keep her fork, and then she knew the best part of the meal – dessert – was still to come. And she said that while the process of dying was horrid, she knew that the best was yet to come in Heaven. So she wanted everyone to see the fork, ask why it was there, and for him to explain that the best was yet to come. And when she died he did just that.”

The buzzing of the tattoo machine stopped. “That’s the oddest story I’ve ever heard,” Frank said. “But I like it. You’re done.”

“I’m done?” Delia looked down to her ankle. “I’m done! I did it!” She beamed with pride at making it through the ordeal.

“My turn!” I piped up, helping Delia out of the chair. “For the record, the fork story isn’t the only reason for the forks. We’re known as the Grit Girls. It’s kind of our little name for ourselves.”

“And we couldn’t exactly get a tattoo of grits,” Delia offered.

“We’re like a little gang.”

Frank chuckled. “A gang? Well, now. Where is this going, ma’am?”

“I think on my foot. I had my toes painted just for this occasion,” I told them all.

“Only in the south,” was all Frank said as he began to prep for my tattoo.

Let me tell you something. A tattoo on the foot hurts like hell. That was some serious pain, and I’ve birthed four children. But I survived. And we all have matching fork tattoos.

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