It Hurts, It Hurts, Please Don't Stop
by Deborah

A woman with 4 kids stops at my booth to have a look at my design books.  All of the kids want something, but she doesn't want to pay big bucks for 4 kids so she asks if I can manage a $5 design for each of them.  I agree.  Of course they pick out things that are well beyond $5, so I explain how I can simplify them a bit, and they are satisfied with that. 

I get done with the four and she decides to have something done on her ankle, we agree to a kind of half anklet that drapes down onto the top of the foot.  I'm excited about the creative freedom she's agreed to give me, and I think this one will be a great draw into my booth.  I set her up so I can work on her ankle and she can be seen clearly by passersby, so they will become intrigued by what I'm doing and her enthusiasm, and will want one of their own. 

I hunker down and get started at the top of her foot, and as I touch the paste to her skin she has a sharp intake of breath through her clenched teeth and grabs onto the edges of her chair.  Now, I knew I hadn't "poked" her because I use a carrot bag with no added tip, just the soft plastic, and besides that I was draping a line, so I wasn't even touching her.  Well, unbeknownst to me, this woman is suffering from nerve damage that she acquired after a severe bout of Shingles, and even the slightest touch gives her brain the feeling of burning, branding, on her skin.  She thought that the touch would be light enough that it wouldn't bother her.  Apparently not.  I wanted to stop, but she was sold on the idea of this design and really wanted me to continue.  So I would do a bit and she would clench and moan,  I'd stop, and she'd breathe like a woman between contractions.  A lovely sight for those walking by.  I kept trying to adjust myself so my body would block her pained expressions from the rest of the patrons at the fair.  I wanted to stop again, but she kept saying "No! I want it, I'll be ok." 

On top of this the 4 kids are running all around, bumping, touching, etc.  They came up one by one to show me the smudges they'd made of their suns and butterflies that they wanted repaired.  Since I was torturing their mother I didn't think that was too much to ask.  And, to top it all off, a fat sweaty teen I'd hennaed previously comes back to show me how his tribal had slid down from his upper arm, into a mudslide of glop.  Delightful. 

She ended up very happy with her henna.  And she gave me a $5 tip "for my patience with the kids". 

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