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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Just Want A Beer

 remembering this autobio morsel this morning

I only wanted a beer

Toward the end of a failed marriage of 15 years, I got on my bicycle and hit the road, hoping to pedal away some of the misery. In those days, we neither had the multi-colored lizardskin outfits nor the salad bowls strapped to our heads. Jeans, tennis shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, and an old beatup cowboy hat made up my fashion ensemble.

After having been on the road long enough to lose track of time, somewhere in western Montana, along about sunset I spun my wheels into a little town built mostly on one side of the road. The buildings were facing the dying sun, which should have given me a clue.

I was thirsty and tired and road-beat, so was happy to see that one of the buildings was a bar, a cowboy bar. I admit I wasn't very presentable and certainly did not match the cowboy code of attire. My beard was long and no doubt scruffy and my hair was even longer, resting on my shoulders. I walked in, adjusted my eyes to the gloom, and sat at the bar. No recognition by the bartender at all. None. "I'd like a beer, please." Nothing. "Sir, I'd like a beer." "We don't serve your kind here." Uh-oh. "Is it my hair?" An affirmative grunt.

I decided to give a little speech. I stood up and began what I thought would be a persuasive harangue to the unadmiring barsters. I began enumerating all the frontier and cowboy heroes that had long hair starting with Jim Bridger and Will Bill Hickock, proceeding through some of the Presidents of the United States, and ending with what I thought would be the beer-getting clincher: "...and Jesus Christ himself had long hair." I had the full attention of my audience, but still no beer.

I walked out of the bar, saw a little store a few doors down, went in, bought some beers, took them to the steps of the saloon, and sat down there, popping open a cold one, finally washing away the throat dirt. Meanwhile more pickups were pulling up and spilling their cowhand contents past me into the bar.

I thought the best strategy for my camping that evening should be total vulnerability, so I pitched my orange tube tent in the little schoolyard just down the road at the edge of town. I slept with my hatchet next to me that night. Evidently I was regarded as a kook rather than a threat to the cowboy way of life. No one bothered me at all. I packed up early the next morn and pedaled on.


George Breed is Over 70 years old, sharp as a tack, and a nice man

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