The man looked impossibly sad and lost, a ring pierced his frowning brow, he clutched his skinny latte, leaning forward on the student canteen sofa. Sabil could see life had cheated this man; he had set out on his journey through the years with optimism, and fate had rewarded him with mockery. He had the appearance of someone who had clawed his way through life, battling the powers of darkness while fate chuckled from the shadows.
“What happened? What happened to you?” asked Sabil, wanting to reach out and comfort him.
“You see that?” the new acquaintance said, rolling up his sleeve and showing the Japanese characters that snaked down his right forearm.”
“Nice,” said Sabil dutifully.
“When I got that done, no one had Japanese characters. Just me. I was a pioneer, a trail blazer. But now? Now everyone has them, so they call me a sheep, an uninspired copycat. But I was first. They copied me.”
The weight of his bitterness weighed heavy in his words as he said again,
“They copied me.”
Sabil made a sympathetic noise in his throat and thought for a moment.
“And of course that would be considered cultural appropriation now,” said Sabil. The man’s horrified gaze said it all.