For a couple of summers while I was in college I worked as a leader at the Youth Center on Fort Knox. For the most part I was wildly out of my element. I hadn’t been exposed to that many kids who didn’t think of authority as the authority and follow their every command under punishment of them being disappointed in you (the ultimate punishment, obviously). But I hung in and learned to have a really good time going to work. There were kids who came in regularly and who I got to know well and enjoy seeing. Of course there were also some I dreaded seeing.
The center had DJ booth and a little dance room, a concession stand and game area. We were right next to the water park so occasionally we’d have splash bashes where the kids would come and swim and hang out in the center all night.
I got to work on my pool game, which admittedly never actually improved. I’ll never be a pool shark. (I totally just typed ‘poop shark’ and had to change it, but just for the record I’ll never be a poop shark either.)
Part of our responsibility as youth leaders was to keep up the maintenance of the place – that included painting, cleaning and landscaping. There was a guy who worked there, who was around my age, named Lamar. Now, Lamar was not all that into outdoor work, or really any physical work that didn’t involve playing basketball.
We had a court inside the center, and a lot of down time was spent shooting free throws. On one such day Lamar and I were taking advantage of a time when there weren’t too many kids in the center and he was giving me some basketball tips.
We started discussing tattoos. He had some and I didn’t but I wanted one. We were talking about possibilities and I brought up the fact that I thought tattoos of people’s faces was weird and I just didn’t understand it. I may or may not have used the word ‘tacky’.
He raised his sleeve and showed me his arm and said “You mean like this one?”
Yes. Exactly like that one. Woops.