by G. G. Goodson
~~who is RiverDancer to some, Moppy to others~~
Tattoo Goodboy is a midnight ballet in our large family’s quest for life’s truest meaning and deepest music. He is a harmless, lovable cartoon character, but spiritually he is a comedic wordsmith with an endless supply of compassion. He is a rabid Florida State University fan, he travels long distances to be at the bedside of sick grandchildren, he helps with homework, he pokes fun at a daughter’s change in hair color and mimics the voices of neighbors from her childhood. He is always begging "sumbuddy" to come git him . . . or "send money.”
Tattoo talks with a deep Southern accent and pesters for his own e-mail address. Claiming to be an expert on any subject, he assumes anyone’s identity on impulse and takes the reader on a fantasy ride. He wrote a letter on behalf of the animals of September 11, 2001, starred in Phantom of the Opera, played John Travolta’s role in Saturday Night Fever, was elected First Dawg last year, turns himself into a ghost on Halloween, and always forgets his letter to Santa.
Tattoo is a fountain of stories on Christmas Eve night when all of the grandchildren, ages four to 20, gather in one bedroom and sit with the lights out as their storyteller grandmother weaves Tattoo tales. Invariably, the tales include real-life events from family members’ lives that have been hysterically and thoroughly Tattooized. It is rumored that some of the adults listen just outside the door.
The sudden tragic death last year of one of our sons-in-law reduced Tattoo to silence temporarily. His heart heavy with pain, he now struggles to regain his central role in a family loaded with other comedic wordsmiths, real dogs, real cats, real gerbils, real frogs, and real rabbits.
An interview with this Southern illusion would be endless. He moves and talks slowly because he can.
I am secure in the knowledge that this little creature will live on from generation to generation. I can hear my grandchildren talking to their children and grandchildren:
“Let me tell you about my Southern grandmother–some of us called her Moppy. She had a Southern accent. What’s a Southern accent, you ask? Well, it’s a special way of speaking–sorta soothing. She had this little imaginary dog named Tattoo because grandpa said there’d be no more real dogs in the house to take care of.
“Well, after she retired early and began a new career in Mine Safety consulting, Moppy quickly realized that her children had married and lived far, far from each other. Very soon Tattoo was e-mailing stories to my aunts and uncles in their offices and homes describing his adventures in travel with superstars and designers. He was seen frequently with G.G. GoodJooking at the House of Weumpka dancing the night away.
“He complained bitterly about relatives leaving wet towels on bathroom floors and how they ‘got above their raising’ when they refused fried okra, butterbeans, peas and corn bread. He complained about the characters Moppy created to keep him company. She loaned him to us when we were sick or just needed someone to talk to on the condition we send him back on a plane when we no longer needed him. He had a backyard cookout that backfired . . . and so one day . . .”
BIO: G. G. Goodson writes online using the penname “RiverDancer.” She says she has no credentials other than she is a retired Corporate Director of Human Resources. She works occasionally as a Surface Mine Safety consultant. RiverDancer and her husband have lived in the panhandle of Florida all their lives. She says she has not published, nor does she plan to. Her four daughters collect the Tattoo stories--and, she adds, “Lord knows what they'll do with them after I'm gone.”
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