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Published: November 22nd 2003
I celebarated my arrival in Clumbus, Georgia with lunch at a Chinese Restaurant. I had been hankiering for Thai, but aI settled for a $5 buffet devoid of anything as Chinese as tofu or bamboo shoots. While it wasn't as bad as a Chinese buffet I visited in Delaware that offered onion rings and macaroni and cheese, I still wondered about the authenticity of the food. I wanted to ask the Chinese staf, "Do you guys eat anything like this stuff at home?" I've heard that chow mein and egg rolls are actualy American inventions, akin to the tiki bar, which has almost nothing to do with Polynesia.
I logged close to 2,000 miles to arrive in Columbus, and the last 30 miles seemed drag, even though they were mostly downhill from Pine Mountain. I was filled with anticipation of a new tattoo as I graced in namesake Veterans' Parkway in downtown Columbus, but I tempered my impatience to pull my bke off the road for a few more minutes.
I came to a stop across from an unmarked police car filled with uniformed officers at a gas station and joined them in observing the slow progress of a line of pedestrians. A Buddhist monk and nun in yellow robes and shaved heads led a dozen or so walkers down Veterans' Parkway, chanting and drumming underneath a ten foot tall flag emblazoned with the words, "Peace Walk." I had heard that the peace walkers were out and about, and I was delighted at the serendipity of running into them in Columbus. I leaned forward on my handlebars, a smile stretching my face, and watched them approach. The three police officers in their unmarked car eyed me behind their sunglasses as one took notes and another spoke into a radio. As the monk approached me I introduced myself, saying, "Peace be with you! I just rode my bike two thousand miles to be here!"
The monk, a small man of Asian descent, stopped his drumming and asked me ina voice gone hoarse from days of chanting, "Two thousand miles, by yourself?"
"Two thousands miles, by myself!"
"Wow! That is cool!"
The two of us grinned and shook hand, sharing a motivation that led us to test our bodily limits to realize a vision of peace. A we joked with each other, comparing mileage and routes, the peace walkers and police officers snapped pictures of us, although the peace walkers were more conspicuous about it. While in pst years Buddhists monks and nuns have led peace walks across the country that have ended at Fort Bening, this year's peace walk had only embarked from Atlanta, a hundred miles to the north. The peace walkers were impressed at my solo effort, since they had a support staff traveling behind them in vans.
The peace walkers had only a mile left n their day's journey, so I joined them on foot, pushing my bicycle beside me and waving to the many people standing on their stoops or front lawns to see such a motley troop pass by, what with Buddhists in saffron robes, hippie college students in birkenstocks, a grizzled octogenarian and an eight year old girl skippng along in a flowery sun hat. The ever-observant polic apparently decided that we didn't fit their paranoid profile of black-clad, molotov cocktail-toting anarchists fresh from disrupting the FTAA in Miami, and cruised off to protect and serve elsewhere.
After arriving at the Columbus Municipal Center parking lot and sharing a prayer of thanksgiving with the peace walkers, I went my sepearte way towards the tattoo studio. The sun was getting low iin the western sky, and I wanted to get under the gun before liberty call atFor Benning and the Fridayafternoon rush to get drunk and tattooed.
As I rode up to Superior Skin Art, a group of multiply-tattoed and pierced individuals looked up from their cigarettes to check me out. As I was locking my bike to a light pole a guy with almost as much hair as myself, but far more holes and ink in his body, walked over and asked, "Are you here for the tattoo parlor?"
"Well then bring your bike on inside where it'll be safe!"
I turned my bike around and walked to the front door, which was held open by another pierced individual and parked my bike in front of one of the display case of shiny hoops, posts and barbells. As I dug into my traler for the image I wanted on my skin, the tattooed and pierced employees gathered around my bike and began asking questing about what I was ridng, and where I ahd ridden. They were al impressed with my bke and my choice of tattoo art. Half an hour later my tattoo artist, Matt, had traced out the image of a triple bicycle crankset and was transferring it to my right inside forearm. With a grin on his face and a buzz of the tattoo gun, he asked, "Are you ready?" And I said, "Sure!"
Two hours later I was stunned at the level of detail and shading Matt had worked on my skin. The sign outside had said "Superior Skin Art," and it was no joke. They were more expensive, but they were worth it. As a poster said inside, "We know we're more expensive than the rest, but we're the best." Another sign asked, "If your cousin can do it for $25 and a six-pack, then why the are you wasting my time?"
I walked out of Superior Skin Art a bit sore, but knowing that I had not wasted my time.
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