Me Hue Man: New Name, New Tattoo
She stepped out of the night and came over to where Julia and I were chatting around the picnic table. Our homemade gypsy wagon trailer was parked next to us. It was hard dark, and the woman’s long black hair covered her eyes.
She said, “your wagon is so cute. I’ve been thinking about building a teardrop.” A teardrop is a small trailer, often homebuilt, that has a rounded front that tapers at the back. I gave her a tour of the Newfie wagon, and she said, “I’m traveling in my Honda Element. It’s painted all over with my designs. My partner’s a lot older than me, and I’ve always wanted to build a lightweight camper.”
She asked me how I built the roof on my gypsy camper. I told her I made a framework of red oak frames and strips of 1/4-inch plywood. Then I covered the frame with a quilt, a white tarp, and a painter’s drop cloth. I painted the drop cloth with roof paint to make it waterproof.
She wandered over to Julia and said, “I heard your voices coming from your campsite, and you sounded so friendly I decided I could go over and ask about your wagon.” There was a lightness to her voice like she’d seen a lot but was still curious to see more. I couldn’t see much of her in the night because it was so dark. The nights are darker out West than back East.
Drifting in the West
She struck me as another person drifting around the West. I’m drifting. Julia’s drifting. We’re drifting by choice. Others aren’t and we see them everywhere. Old women with shopping carts piled high with cardboard parked under overpasses. Thirty-something men with beards camped in orange tents across from signs that say, “Help Wanted”.
None of the drifting men looks over seventy or under twenty. They all have beards and are either carrying bags up the side of the road or squatting behind gas stations.
The next morning, I boiled water for coffee on our wood-fired BioLite cook stove. I looked up from feeding sticks into the stove and saw a woman walking among the pine trees. She wore what looked like a black velvet bikini with a choker under black short pants with suspenders. A fuzzy tail hung off the back of her pants and dangled between her legs.
It was a chilly Oregon fall morning. The water boiled on the cookstove. I dumped in a handful of ground coffee, boiled the water until the froth settled and poured the coffee into two mugs. Julia and I took our coffee and two folding chairs and sat in the morning sun to drink our coffee.
The woman with the fox tail came over and said, “Hi there! I told my partner about your wagon after talking to you last night. I snuck over while you were sleeping and took a photo of it in the moonlight.” It was the woman that had spoken with us the night before.
Me Hue Man
She had a full moon tattooed across her forehead, and her kinky black hair covered her eyes like the forelock on a pony. She wore black knee socks with rainbows on the top, a rainbow wrist band and everything else she wore was black, from shorts to suspenders.
Her skin was so white that it made her tattoos stand out like they were inked on white paper. They included two dancing bears on her shoulder and two tattoos on her knees that looked like they’d been started but not finished.
She smiled, and Julia and I introduced ourselves. I asked her what her name was.
“My name is Me,” she said.
“Me?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “My full name is Me Hue Man. I was born with another name, but I changed it to Me Hue Man. Get it? Me Human? I spell my middle name Hue because I like colors. That’s my real name. It’s even on my driver’s license.”
Me was friendly and had an easiness to her like she’d been broken and mended so many times that she was ready to plunge into a new adventure before she thought of what could go wrong.
Life Before Me Became Me
I asked her where she was from and if she was traveling. Everyone is traveling here in southern Oregon, from the jacked-up Mercedes RV parked on one side of where we’re camped to the broken-down green Silverado across from us. There’s a one-night limit in some of the campgrounds we’ve been staying in, and I think it’s to keep people moving on.
I asked her where she was raised. She said she’d grown up around Neah Bay in northern Washington. “I lived off the grid in a home without running water,” she said. “I’ve got a grown daughter, and when she visited me, she said, “It’s cool how you live, but I could never do it. How can you live without running water?'”
I asked her where she was heading. “I’m here in Bend to support my partner’s daughter, who’s in tattoo school. Most tattoo artists are men, and lots of them are real assholes. They don’t like women getting into the business because it intimidates them. My friend has to do 50 hours of tattooing as part of her schooling and was looking for volunteers to tattoo.”
She threw her hands in the air and said, “so I told her, ‘I’m here!’ So she’s been tattooing me.”
I asked if I could take her photo in front of the wagon, and she said that would be fine.
We walked over to the wagon. Me turned around, wriggled out of her suspenders and said, “I’m going to drop my pants and show you the tattoo on my lower back.” She pulled the top of her shorts down to reveal the tattoo of what looked like Buddha tattoed on the small of her back. He looked like he was out of a sci-fi movie and it looked like the top of his skull was popping off his head.
“The tattoo on my lower back is about how mechanization, AI and how robots are taking over. See how the top of the guy’s head is blowing off? It’s like he’s turned into a robot, and the AI is blowing his mind.”
She pulled her pants and suspenders up and said, “well, I better get into Bend so my friend can start tattooing me.” We wished her well, and I watched her tail swish behind her legs as she walked back to her car.
Julia said, “I wish I’d asked her if she was a furry.” We’d never heard of a furry until a rancher’s wife in Nebraska told me about them.
I liked Me Hue Man and admired her for plowing through the world with the wide-open eyes of a much younger, idealistic woman. Most people her age have had their dreams knocked out of them. They settle into a stable career or relationship at some point, whether it lines up with their dreams or not.
I hoped Me continued traveling, searching, and volunteering for tattoos until she found what she was looking for, if, in fact, she could ever find it.