Friday, March 25, 2011

The Bluffoonery

The day began like many others, spring was in the air, the trees were budding out and the birds were singing their favorite songs. At Twin Rocks Trading Post, patrons and artists came and went in the regular, unending cycle of buying, selling and trading. Rug weavers, basket makers, folk artists and silversmiths had all been in by early afternoon, taxing our checkbook, but stimulating the local economy.


At Twin Rocks Cafe, breakfast and lunch were complete. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hamburgers, Navajo tacos and fry bread had been consumed in significant volume. The customers smiled, greeted each other pleasantly and whistled happy tunes. Winter was surely on the wane, tourists were arriving and everyone was feeling fine.

In Bluff, many of the residents refer to themselves as Bluffoons. As a result, a few years ago Barry coined the term “Bluffoonery”. As originally conceived, the word is loosely defined as a “colorful cast of characters”. In this community, there are always colorful characters, whether they be indigenous, imported or transient. This day would prove the point.

In addition to the snowbirds migrating north, spring also brings its share of wanderers, those who seek a warmer climate on a strict budget. Over the years we have witnessed veritable troops of these adventurers. As one might guess, the restaurant is a magnet for the untethered traveler who is hungry and in need of support. Sorting the needy from the merely creative can be a challenge.

On this particular March day, the first roamer to arrive was a slight man of about 50 years named Doug. Doug was turned out in a blue Nike wind jacket, reasonably clean trousers and climbing shoes. He rode a good quality mountain bike, wore a sensible helmet and at least outwardly appeared to be far from needy. His closely cropped hair, however, highlighted a pair of penetratingly blue, red circled, darting, troubled eyes that revealed Doug was not fully in control of his emotions or his addictions.

Asking if we had any work, Doug explained that he wished to earn a cup of joe and a plate full of biscuits and gravy. Since we could not imagine what needed to be done at that particular moment, and since deeper investigation indicated he was sincerely in need of a little help, Melissa and I sat him down with a large mug of steaming coffee and a batch of biscuits smothered in white gravy sprinkled with sausage.

As Melissa and I had guessed, once Doug had consumed enough to refuel, he explained that he had for many years wrestled with his intense fondness for alcohol and illicit substances. In 2006 he had taken to the road on his bicycle and had been soberly peddling the Southwest byways ever since, stopping only long enough to accumulate the capital necessary to keep himself and his bicycle operational. After a couple years he had developed a routine and, although I had never seen him before, Twin Rocks Cafe had become an annual stop, biscuits and gravy his favorite meal.

Once Doug was tanked up and was on his way, I got in the old Ford truck and headed west towards the Desert Rose Inn to retrieve Grange, who had been visiting his cousin Tarrik. Standing directly in the center of Highway 163 was a young man sporting dreadlocks, worn baseball cap and dirty shorts. Following logic I had not previously witnessed in hitchhikers, this youth had apparently decided he could go either way. When the traffic was proceeding north, he hitched north, when it was going south, he hitched south, with no apparent regard for where he might ultimately wind up of his personal safety.

“Hey,” he shouted as I entered the stream of traffic, coming dangerously close to him, “how about a couple bucks. I’M HUNGRY!” Thinking his show was more theater than substance, I passed him by without making a contribution. “Bah,” he said, stamping his feet. Not long after Priscilla noticed him walking away from the K & C Trading Post carrying a large package of beer, looking all the world like the cat that ate the canary.

Surely our experiences in Bluff are not altogether different from what happens in mainstream America. The size of the town, however, causes the interactions to be closer, more personal. As a result, we quite often learn the rest of the story behind these eternal explorers who comprise our own private Bluffoonery.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team

Great New Items! This week's selection of Native American art!

Our TnT's purchased new treasures! Check out Traders in Training!

Enjoy artwork from our many collector friends in Living with the Art!

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