Monday, October 7, 2013

Taking A Little Off The Top

"I've felt so tired ever since I got my brain tumor that I just enjoy sitting in my big chair and watching the world pass by."

The hair stylist's words settle over my chest like the heavy lead apron at a dentist's office. I sit on the waiting bench and dig deep for some perspective, my eyes exploring the scuffed wooden floor of the local barber and beauty shop.

The biblical Samson and I are polar opposites. His aversion to barbers gave him a supernatural strength, while for me a trip to the chair never fails to provide the same. My week had been a rough one, full of defeat and desperation to the point of dark thoughts and anger. I need to hold my head up again and face the world, and since losing a few ounces up top always seems to tip the scales, here I was.

I look up from the floor to watch the stylist apply small strips of tin foil covered in what looks like paper mache to her client’s long dark hair. She smiles through her troubles, and somehow my hair doesn’t feel so heavy anymore.

I turn and watch the barber work on the thinning hair of a man who is clearly no stranger to hard work in the sun. His tanned head pokes up through the light-colored drape like a leather whack-a-mole.
The door swings open, drawing my attention. Behind the swing walks a man wearing a thick canvas jacket, work-worn blue jeans, and boots that have never seen the inside an office building.

“Well, looky here, it’s the rich and famous,” the whack-a-mole declares.

“Says the dumb and poor,” counters the man in the canvas jacket as he closes the door. He turns to the coat rack and shrugs out of his jacket. I spot a company logo bordered with the words “We Know Dirt” in dark embroidered lettering on the back.

“You too good to wave to me nowadays?” asks The Mole, a tease in his tone.

“Waddya mean?” Canvas says, sitting down in a chair by the door.

“I’ve driven past you a bunch of times, honking my horn and waving, but you don’t wave back, you just look at me like I’m a bastard calf!”

“So that’s you driving all over the valley in that great big, shiny new truck and honking like an idiot?”

“Yep, that’s me,” The Mole admits.

“Shit, why buy a new horse when the old one’s still riding? ‘Course, you wake up one morning and the old one’s dead on the ground, and you’ve got yourself a problem,” Canvas chuckles.

“Is that your truck I’ve been seeing parked all day up near the old church in Wanship?” asks The Mole.

“Might be,” Canvas says cautiously.

“You got a girlfriend up that way or something?”

“You’re looking pretty thin on top there, old timer,” Canvas says, evading the question and then laughing at his crafty retaliation.

“You going shootin’ today?” asks The Mole.

“Naw, not unless I buy some lead. The other day I had a mind to go, but discovered that I’m outta ammo,” Canvas replies casually.

From there the conversation moves on to hunting, high school sports, and men with names like Shorty and Tiny.

By the time my butt hits the barber chair my face aches from laughing and my troubles, though not gone, are forgotten.

Samson should have had his hair cut in Kamas.

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