As usual, our little barber shop was busy, so I got in line behind about a dozen or so other men who were waiting for Ruben to work his magic.
Now in order to paint a clear picture of my world, let me say that when you are the best barber in a huge county of about ten thousand people, you are always busy.
As I hung my hat and coat, I exchanged howdys with everyone and took a seat to wait my turn in Ruben’s chair.
I shuffled through the stack of girlie and hunting magazines.
After listening for what seemed like forever, I came to the realization that I never before had considered how little I had in common with these men.
Different cultures, races, languages, tax brackets, and religions. The only thing I could see we had in common was that we were all men in need of a haircut.
Now Old Ruben is a music lover from way back. As a result, he’s always had an old guitar that he keeps on top of the pop machine in the corner. Many’s the time that Ruben has asked, “Hey RdubbleU, how about a song while you wait?”
One time I went in with my boys, and by the time we all got a haircut, I discovered I was a little shy of what I owed him. Ruben doesn’t take credit or debit cards, but he will take a song. So, at two bucks short and a song being worth a nickel, I am, and have been, indebted to my barber for quite some time.
On this particular day, I went and grabbed that old guitar upon request and started to play and sing. Ruben loves Marty Robbins songs, so I played “I Walk Alone.” One of the other fellas asked if I knew “Cowboy in the Continental Suit.” I played that and some others and then handed the guitar to an old man who played “El Rancho Grande” and “De Colores.”
An old cowman from the Canadian River Canyon up around Roy, New Mexico, got to his feet and did a little jig to that ancient old tune while the other men laughed and clapped. Someone remarked that he was in his nineties! The old cowman replied that he was destined for Dancing with the Stars. And so it went, for the better part of an hour, until it came my time for a haircut.
I looked across this tiny shop and noticed that the faces that once had been courteous, but indifferent, had warmed. We all had a good laugh when one of the wives came in to tell her husband it was time to go home. She said she had dragged him out of the saloon many times, but never the barber shop!
When Ruben was done, I left a ten on the counter, grabbed my hat and coat, and said adios.
Heading back to the ranch, I hummed “El Rancho Grande” as I drove and had to laugh at how wrong I had been. We share so much in common, these men and I. Our bond is a love for music.
But much more than that, it is a love for music about the land, this land, our land!