It is 100 fucking degrees out today. For real, 100 degrees. The thermometer that came with my apartment says so. This isn’t surprising since it’s St. Louis in the summer, but it sure is depressing. Yesterday it was 102 degrees at sunset, which wasn’t that big of a deal for me because I was in an air-conditioned car and not at that dumbass U2 concert (something like 16 people hospitalized for heatstroke, way to go, middle aged jerks!), but contemplating the heat didn’t make me feel better about that pizza I ate for dinner.
Speaking of, PW Pizza in the Centennial Malt House building (directly underneath Vin De Set and the Moulin) is ace. Good pizza, excellent use of pepperoncinis, and a very good draught beer list. If I could offer only one non-food suggestion – which would rightfully be ignored, seeing as though I am not a successful restauranteur and Paul and Wendy Hamilton are, like, a lot – it would be that they allow their servers to display their tattoos. Not in an exhibitionist, custom-made clothing kind of way, but just…normal. Sometimes you can see them if someone’s in shortsleeves, sometimes you can see them if someone’s neckline is a little low. Big deal. As unappetizing as some uptight assholes might find tattoos, for tattooed, restaurant-loving, talking-about-places-on-the-Internet, disposable income-having me, it’s far more uncomfortable to watch servers walk around the room covered in long sleeves and Band-Aids in July than it is to see the occasional tattoo. It’s a pizza place, for chrissakes. Finer dining is upstairs. Just a thought, Hamiltons.
During all the years I worked in the service industry, I only encountered tattoo-hating customers a handful of times. Like, literally a handful. Possibly even less than five times. And every single time, the customer who had a problem with my tattoos was a sourfaced whiner who also complained about issues that had nothing to do with tattoos; the music was too loud, the TV channel was boring, the beer wasn’t cold enough, gays and feminists were ruining everything. And they always tip like shit, and they never go higher than rail. My tattoos had nothing to do with my abilities as an employee, nor did they have anything to do with that person’s experience in the establishment. Some people just really, really, really like to complain, and if they sense that their complaints are beyond their immediate control, they’ll direct those complaints at the nearest human target.
So when some crusty old guy with false teeth and a pervy voice stared at my tits and said, “I don’t know why pretty girls ruin their looks with tattoos,” I knew he wasn’t really talking about me. He was talking about my tits, and the fact that he would never get to put any part of his body between them, and the realization that, based on my willingness to deface myself with permanent, custom, well-planned and well-executed art, I didn’t really give a shit what he thought.
As I implied before, I understand that owners don’t want visible tattoos in their fine dining restaurants. While I wouldn’t be offended, I see their point and concede that the kinds of people who spend the most money in places like that don’t want tattoos with dinner, they want them in secret Internet porn that they’re not clever enough to delete from their browser histories. But in more casual places like PW Pizza, which has such a fun, down-to-earth aesthetic and is just one piece of a successful St. Louis mini-empire that one would think would love showcasing local talent and flavor, not allowing servers to show their tattoos is just silly. It seems like such a pissy thing to worry about, and as someone who knows that tattoos really don’t make a difference in certain kinds of places, a weird enough aspect to micro-manage that it seems purely personal instead of a business concern.
The bitch of it is, my job doesn’t even care about my tattoos! Granted I’m just a peon there and senior management doesn’t really acknowledge my existence, but tattoos don’t even merit a mention in our dress code. I work for a Fortune 200 multinational corporation, by the way, and while I’d never say that it’s an ideal work environment, they seem to care more about the work I produce rather than the ink on my arms.
But again, I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Paul and Wendy Hamilton are very good at running restaurants and I…work in an office? Write stuff sometimes? Am one kickass dive bartender? I guess those aren’t very valid credentials. For what it’s worth, though, I’d count dishes from the Hamiltons’ restaurants among my personal Top 20 Dishes of All Time, and not once did I ever put a forkful of food or a drop of wine in my mouth and think “man, I’m super glad our server doesn’t have tattoos, because that would just ruin everything.”