Short Back and Sides

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It’s hard thinking of things to write here since I don’t ever really leave the house. That leaves only my personal thoughts, which I try to stay away from publishing on a blog with my name on it.

It’s raining snowing in Missoula and the locals have all gone into shock since the sun disappeared around the end of last week. After the neighbors’ BBQ a week ago last Sunday, at which I actually got a little bit of a sunburn, A. and I thought nothing of planning our own BBQ for this past Saturday, as a house warming.

The snow started falling in the late afternoon.

Nonetheless, a fine time was had by all, even if I had to hold my hands over the grill to keep them from freezing, and even if I did manage to utterly incinerate twelve bratwursts right off the bat. I laid them out on the grill, closed the lid, went inside for a beer and became distracted by conversation. Twelve minutes later, I went back outside and shamefacedly scraped the smoking remains into the trash.

By the time the evening drew to a close, I think about 15 people had cycled through, which is really about all you’d want to try to host in a house this size, unless you were to break some people off into groups and send them to my office or the bedroom. (Quiet, you Freudians.)

We hadn’t expected very many guests, honestly, since we only gave people three days’ notice. But fortunately we had overstocked in the meat department, and – what with some steaks our realtor brought and a few other contributions from other guests – we had more than enough. In fact, I ate leftover hamburgers for lunch on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Not to mention one for dinner on Sunday. (What – is that unhealthy or something?)

One guest we met for the first time that evening. He was the friend of another guest and lives catty corner across the street from us. He would have been welcome anyway but came bearing two more bratwursts and two toothpaste-style tubes of fancy German mustard, one sweet and one spicy. (In Sweden, they sell caviar in these little tubes, too.) He and I told WWII stories via our grandfathers: his was a Luftwaffe pilot, while mine saw action as an infantry man on the Eastern Front. Another guest’s father had been a USAF pilot who turned back on his second bombing run ever due to a mechanical problem; only one other plane from his squadron returned that day. He flew 24 missions before being shot down and spending the next 13 months in a POW camp. At the age of 23.

On Sunday, A. and I slept in then walked to Broadway Bagels, literally the only bagel shop in Missoula. (I think. But I’ll be glad to be proved wrong, not that there’s anything I don’t like about B’way.) Then, a day of errands as A. made final preparations for Arizona. (A SAM splint for the first aid kit, some field pants from Goodwill, pipe cleaners to tie around the necks of nestlings so that they can’t swallow their food.)

On Monday, I went for a haircut at my new favorite barber, an old-fashioned place where they leave Playboy magazines lying around the waiting room (but also Cosmo!) and don’t offer either to wash your hair or put anything in it. When the owner is there, his two pugs have the run of the place. I got my hair cut by the other guy, a big fellow with a patch of white hair and a little white mustache. It took us a while to get talking, but when we did I learned that he had wandered by chance into Missoula after leaving Washington, D.C. 35 years ago and just never left. “Hippy days, you know,” he said, in his deep rumbly voice. He really couldn’t have looked like less like an old hippie. “We just loaded up a VW van and took off. We ended up in Missoula and decided to stay. There weren’t any jobs, so I went to Seattle for a year and went to barber school.”

I wonder how many hippies wandering the country in the early 1970s ended up going to barber school? I wonder if barber schools saw a drop in enrollment during that hairy time?

“Things sure are different out here in the west,” he said.

Amen, brother.