Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the Barber's Mind

A few days ago I drove in to town, and while I was there I stopped off at the barbershop for a long overdue and much needed haircut. Usually the place is full of greying good old boys, and as the barber cuts my hair he pretty much ignores me while carrying on an animated conversation with "the boys," on pickup trucks or hunting or the woes of life or pretty much any topic you might hear made mention of in a country music song.

But this time I was the only customer in the shop. So I had the novel experience of carrying on a conversation with the barber solo. It was a very different experience. With no appearances to keep up, we got off into a conversation about... the Canadian playwright and novelist Robertson Davies. Yeah, the writer who wove archetypes and Jungian psychology and whatnot into his novels.

Yes, the barber can conduct a conversation about a high-falutin' novelist nobody who wears a seed corn cap has ever heard of. Of course hunting did come into it-- when the barber goes hunting in Canada, he likes to stay in a town in the wilds of Ontario which figures in one of Davies' novels-- but, you know, he has conversation in him like you'd never hear in a piece of country music, and you'd never hear it out of him when his regular clientele is within earshot, either.

There are appearances to be kept up, after all. Mustn't let 'em think you're out of their league. Mustn't let 'em hear you get off into topics that couldn't be discussed in the cab of a pickup. I grew up in a small town very much like this one, and I understand.

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