Not a Picnic
by Justine Willowhawk

Well the season was almost over and I was looking forward to the end. I needed a rest but I had two more weekend shows booked when I got a call booking a company picnic. I agreed without looking at my calendar which was a mistake because I had a weekend event booked. I weighed the pro's and con' s of each event and the company picnic won by a huge margin. In fact there weren't any pro's to doing the other event. The company picnic was 10 miles away and they were needing me for 2 hours, not to mention that it was 'sure money'. Well to book a party with me is a 4 hour minimum, but I wanted this job so I figured I would make an exception. I was asked how many people I could do in an hour and I told her 6. That gives me 10 minutes per person and I can squeeze in 'chat time' and lemon/sugar dabbing. So that meant I would be hennaing at least 12 people.

The day before the gig I went to gather my design books without prices listed. Well I couldn't find them so off to the copy store I go. Later that night, I am all prepared with new design books, fresh paste ready to go in cones and all the other necessities. I stayed up late and mehendi'd my own
hand then wrapped it up and went to bed.

The day of the gig I got into my 'uniform' of sari, bindi, tikka and hath patti and off I went. I got there 5 minutes before I was to start and as I walked up into this crowd of people I realized I had forgotten the contact woman's name. People were staring at me and gawking but when I asked a group of people who was in charge they realized why I was there. "Oh you are here to do henna" "the henna lady is here"

As we are walking to the table set up for me I see people running to it. One woman is saying "I am first, I am first" There is a sign up that says "henna tattoos". That is NOT a sign I would ever use but I let it slide ... it's a nit picky thing and I am not in a nit picky mood. So I put my bag down and lay the design books out along with my portfolio of pictures. By this time there's 10 or more people at the table. I grab my cones and the first woman wants a little floral design on her ankle. I make it the size I would normally which is larger than in the design book. She's pleased but later I hear her say "it's bigger than I thought". People in line are flipping through the design books and my portfolio. The next few women that came through wanted temporary tattoo's because they want a permanent ink tattoo but are afraid to get one. On the average they wanted 1" size designs. They are pointing to in the design book to images about 2" size. Oh you have to love a challenge.

Then people started picking designs out of my portfolio. I did the same Spellstone design 3 times and normally that design starts at $25 and maxes at $50 (depends on the size). The same Lezard design is chosen 7!! times ... now I love Lezard and his work, but if I never see that damn hand
again it will be too soon. 7 times in 2 hours???

Ankles and backs ... ankles and backs ... oh ugh. Not one hand done!!! Some people wanted their names done ... or just temporary tattoo style designs. Great now I am henna whoring myself. But the job is fun nonetheless.

The line of people isn't getting smaller and some are complaining about standing in line for an hour (at that point I had been there 70 minutes!). I am whipping through the designs faster that I want to. No time for mistakes, no time for it to look real pretty. One woman asks "what is in your paste" another asks "do you use colors or is this natural" then a child says "is this black". Wow people who knew about black henna were being very cautious. Yay!

I have a woman in a white T-shirt who wants a little something on her breast. I tell her that's not a problem but she's going to have to leave the area exposed while it dries and then until she takes the paste off. She seems to only hear "while it dries" so I have to explain myself over again and she
replies "leave it on 4 hours!" Yes that's the minimum! She thinks she can just let her shirt over it as soon as the paste dries, so I have to explain that it will stain her white shirt. Finally she chooses a 1" design for her ankle. The next woman is in a black tank top but of course she wants the paste to go under the tank top onto hidden breast area. So as soon as I finish she stands up to show someone and 2 minutes later it's smeared beyond recognition and I just wipe if off and she goes off with her husband.

Then I began to notice that pages in my portfolio are being taken out as people wait in line. They are holding the page that has the photo of the design they want. This really pissed me off because I am going to be doing $25+ designs and they are not ones I offered in the design books available. Not to mention that I would never start taking someone's portfolio apart ... sheesh. One girl wants "part of this, with part of that, and a little of this" and it's the dreaded rose that I did last summer. Now just
because something ends up in my portfolio does NOT mean it's part of my repertoire. This rose was a favor to someone and I wanted to see if I could do it. I don't have roses in my design books, nor is there any other rose pictures in my portfolio. The original picture shows that I took time and care to do it. This should take me more than 10 minutes ... I should sketch this out, but I don't really give a care at the moment. I whip something out and am less than thrilled with it but her friends are all thrilled.

As people are bringing me pages of my portfolio I am putting them under the table. Today I get to put my portfolio back together.  I got to do a couple of feet ... Yay! 2 girls wanted matching designs on each others foot. What a thrill, something remotely resembling mehendi now. Guess what they picked ... the same damn Lezard design "but don't do that part, just this part and this part"... LOL.

Well my 2 hours is over and there is still 10+ people waiting. I don't know if these people are with the company picnic or not and I really don't care. It's not my job to police them yet I hear people in line being asked if they are with the company picnic or not. I figured I would be there longer than 2
hours so it wasn't a big deal. So by the time I left it was 90 minutes overtime and few people talked about booking parties so that's good. When I stood up and gathered my materials my back was really sore. By the time I got home my back was out and I could barely walk. So I will probably be laid up for 2 weeks and walking with my cane again.

But I definitely earned my money and learned that I need to put a sign in the front of my portfolio saying "do not remove these pages"!!!

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