Will Meinen | The Tattler
OMAHA, Neb. — “No I didn’t just have a domestic dispute with my wife,” said the exasperated man standing outside of CVS pharmacy, his black Pantera shirt in hand. “I’m waiting for a friend to pick me up.”
The man in faded blue jeans and worn, white New Balance sneakers had been answering similar questions all afternoon. He avoided eye contact when asked about the possibility of a domestic scuffle, and tapped his feet nervously from side to side, keeping an eye out for his friend’s 1998 blue Dodge Dakota. On his left bicep was a black ink tattoo of the face of his 3-year-old daughter, on his right forearm a blue ink tattoo, faded, of a scorpion.
“My car didn’t break down. I’m not homeless, but yes, I am unemployed. I worked for several years as a guitar tech for the band Scorpion and a drum tech for RATT. I don’t have a drug problem, although I used to drink too much Jack Daniels. I am divorced but I see my little girl, like, every other weekend.”
I asked the man why he thought going shirtless in public with faded jeans and white sneakers was permissible seeing how he was nowhere near a recreational watering hole.
“I don’t understand the question,” he replied. “It’s hot out. I was hot so I took off my shirt. What is the big damn deal?”
As he replied to my query, his lips began to purse and his face became slightly redder. Sweat dripped from his forehead, which he immediately wiped away with an orange and black, fire-patterened do-rag extracted from his back pocket.
His torso wasn’t unsightly. For a 40-ish male he was in decent shape. His chest and stomach were hairless save a few dark follicles around the nipple. He had an early spring tan and not too many moles. To this reporter, however, not wearing a shirt with jeans could only mean trouble.
As I asked further about the man’s love affair with the Pontiac Firebird and affinity for fishing without a license, both of which he denied, a car honked while turning left off of Dodge to the annoyance of the other drivers. The man’s ride pulled to the side of the road, reached over, opened the door, and began to clean soda bottles and fast food wrappers off the passenger seat.
“That’s my ride,” said the shirtless man.
I asked for some chewing tobacco as the man climbed into the Dodge truck. He continued to stare straight ahead while giving me the middle finger.
As he drove away, a CVS employee who had just ended her shift stopped and asked me where the other members of my A capella group were hiding.
“You know, because of your bow tie,” she explained.