Our month of change. Our month of happy change. Once more we can stand the thought of wearing a sweater as the summer sun burns itself down. Once again we can think about a new year at school, a new teacher. Once again, the house is ours … and quiet during the day.
In the forest, the animals are polishing antlers, sleeking muscles for the mating ruts to come, marking their territories. The deciduous trees are showing those awesome changes of color as the mountains become a splendid quilt of temporary beauty.
A resting time for the older folks. They can sit on the patio now even in the afternoons. It’s a time for barbecued ribs and football, and picking fruit. On the farms, the canning pots are boiling with treasures for the coming winter.
Time for the Fall gather. Time to see what’s out in those far pastures. Time to brand and work any late calves. Time to sort those who will stay and those who will go to the sale. Time to make money for the ranch.
Time to sit and sip something hot and think about things past and yearn for certain future things and to plan … plan how we can finish this year in a better fashion than last year.
And speaking of fall … when you live in a small town like ours, sometimes you get a bit thirsty for entertainment. I mean, we’ve all heard most of Windy Wilson’s stories, and the radio and the television stations are in a much bigger town.
But once in a while, we have Willoughby. I think Dud passed him on the highway before he got here and phoned Doc down at the Mule Barn coffee shop. The entertainment alarm went off more loudly than the tornado siren, and in five minutes flat, we were down at the grocery store, waiting on the latest sales spiel Willoughby might bring.
Our favorite so far was the artificial seafood with a shelf life longer than written memory, but we were counting on Willoughby to come up with something new and terrific. He didn’t disappoint.
When he grinned and waved and leaped out of his car, we gasped. Blue hair. Now Willoughby normally had brown hair mixed with gray, a natural look for a middle-aged man. But blue hair?
We got inside the grocery store quicker than Willoughby. Annette looked up from the cash register at today’s audience and smiled. “Willoughby?” Of course, we said.
Then here he came, necktie and all, with his sample case.
“Annette,” he said, “you know we need to keep up with the times, and that’s why I brought you this new age-reversal product called Fall Back. Yes, ma’am, in this kit is the answer to sweeping away the years and returning to that look we had when we were back in school. Inside this modestly-priced kit are hair colors that will mark you as being hip … you know … with it? Blue, green, purple, all the good colors. And then we have this …”
And he pulled out something that looked like tweezers on steroids.
“Annette,” said Willoughby, “your customers can bypass all that costly care by doing things for themselves. Yes, this is the combination tattoo needle and piercing clamp. All in one.”
“Willoughby,” Annette said, “how many times did you have blue hair when you were in school?”
“And trot out your tattoos and piercings for us, too,” said Doc.
Willoughby looked like someone just stepped on his pet frog.
“I can give you a really good price on this kit, anyway.”
Doc nodded and whispered. “I’m sure he can.”
Slim Randles is a humorist whose work appears in multiple newspapers. He can be reached at email@example.com. This column is brought to you by Sun Dog Days, a novel of wild horses and gentle cowboys. Available at UNMpress.com.