The barber, the beer and Ol' Doc

Stan is a retired barber but still performs about 20 cuts a week. The price of a cut (out in the workshop) is merely a 12- or 18-pack of beer.

For Stan, the camaraderie and the beer make it a better payday than when he was working. Naturally, no one is welcome whose politics stray from the Fox News Channel right. And if you aren't a hunter, don't even bother to risk a visit; you'll be ridiculed out of town.

If you're lucky, there'll be a collection of ol' boys waiting their turn or just stopping by for the guaranteed safe haven for a cool one or two.

I stop by just to get a glimpse of this slice of

America. These guys are fun-loving, highly opinionated and tough as John Wayne's tutor. Only their wives and mothers know their soft sides. Here they are as hard as nails and as brilliant as all of Einstein and more.

"Hey Doc, how ya doin'? Haven't seen you around for a while - and you look like it too, you furry little rodent," greets ever-bubbling Stan, the head barber.

"Don't talk to me, you miserable son of a she dog. The last two times I've come here, the gate was locked, and I had to back all the way down the road.

"Today I stopped and paid 50 cents just to call your miserable number to make sure you were at home. I'm taking the cost of the phone call and the wear and tear out of your fee too, by damn," ranted the Doc in his multi-decibel voice.

"Are all those tire marks down there yours?" asked Stan. "And by the way, are you the one that took out those rose bushes down there, too?"

"Eat it, barber boy. Just don't lock your damn gate all the time. How do you expect us to get a beer if the gate is closed?"

Doc was in his 80s and looked it, but not in his eyes - bright blue and full of fire. He still loved the ladies and always had real live testimonials to prove it. He was by all accounts, even by his detesters, a damn fine veterinarian.

"Yeah, I think I got fired again. They said they'd call me if they needed me next week. I guess I don't sell enough stuff to suit 'em.

"Yesterday this lady brought in one of them lap dogs and they charged her 400 bucks to have his teeth cleaned. I told 'em the damn dog didn't need it. That made 'em mad, I think.

"The day before that, this lady called the owner and whined that I had told them to shoot their dog. Now I never said that. What I did tell them was that they may as well shoot their dog right now and save a pile of money if they were going to keep feeding him all their table scraps. The chubby ole momma musta heard me thinking about how porky she was."

"Ol' Doc was never much on bedside manners,"

observed Stan the barber, for the benefit of the waiting audience.

"Guess I'll go on down to Oregon and make some beer money," reported Doc as he groaned his way out of the barber chair. "But the drug companies are getting a little cheap on their samples, so I don't have many to sell."

"What's the matter, Doc?" quizzed the barber, "Have they cut you off Viagra finally?"

"Whatshu mean, Viagra," he bellowed. "I've never needed Viagra."

Smoke and venom poured out of baby blue eyes and his Milwaukee tumor stomach heaved with the exertion of his anger.

"Barber-boy, I'm gonna de-flower you one of these days and everybody'll be thanking me for it."

"I doubt it," responded Stan. "What about that contractor whose pickup you borrowed that time when you got drunk and crashed yours? He wasn't too happy when the police called him to come get his truck, stuck in the snowdrift in front of that lady's house. You'll lose yours long before mine are in any danger."

With that Doc rumbled on out of the shop headed for his heap of a pickup. He never had anything old because he usually destroyed them before they got old; but they all were cast in his image - pieces of work. This newer Ford 250 pickup, with the long wheelbase, had four different size tires on it and a camper shell that covered a landfill's worth of refuse.

Within minutes the warning went up that Doc was out back trying to turn around. The workshop of men spilled out like moonshiners during a raid. Doc couldn't back up in an elevator and his reputation was known far and wide. Sure enough, he had knocked over the barbecue, driven over a pile of lumber and was dangerously close to demolishing the smokehouse.

"Good Golly Miss Molly," yelled Stan the barber, "Get out of the truck before you destroy my whole place, you pill-pushing pin head."

As Stan replaced Doc in his truck, he was kicking rubbish out of the way on the floor boards cussing up a cloud of obscenities that all related to Doc and the number of times Stan had rescued him over the years.

With Doc safely pointed in the right direction, down the hill aimed towards home, the stories went around the room about old Doc Davis. Each story brought a round of laughs and always the exclamation of what a fine vet he was and what he had done for each of them.

I guess our world is getting too proper for the likes of Doc, but won't we miss him and the stories he generates?

Jim Follis is a retired school administrator, has published two books and currently writes three newspaper columns. Eating, drinking and making merry are his professed hobbies. Traveling, trekking and observing people follow not far behind.

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