Friday, May 27, 2016

The Jester

I was at the southwest counter of the trading post, returning folk art to the case, when I saw a full size Chevy Silverado with Texas plates pull up in front of the trading post. A pickup truck with Texas tags usually means Texans, right? Nope, not this time. I guessed something was amiss when I saw a tall, gangly, dark complexioned man dressed in cycling garb and peppered with tattoos exit the driver's side of the vehicle. "Humph!" he doesn't look like a cowboy to me," I mumbled to myself. Steve and Priscilla both looked up, but they were busy with their own work so my comment didn't hold their attention. Just then a petite maiden dressed in jeans, black velvet slippers and a purple silk camisole dropped to the ground on the passenger side. "Mismatch," I murmured again. This time my coworkers ignored me completely.

Navajo Cowboy Rooster Cottonwood Carving - Matthew Yellowman (#384)

With her designer sunglasses and cosmopolitan air, the woman could have been from anywhere. Because of the guy's cycling Lycra and all that ink, I was skeptical he was from anywhere with an abundance of ropes and saddles. "Europeans?" I don't believe I have ever seen European's driving a super-sized pick-up truck. "This should be interesting," I mumbled. "You have got to stop talking to yourself," Steve said, "or people will start talking about you." I reminded Steve he was generally the top topic of controversial conversation in and around Bluff. He just smiled and moved on.

The couple came in through the Kokopelli doors and began to peruse. As the woman bent over the counter to get a closer look at something therein, I noticed she had ink of her own. As the camisole rode-up her back, an elaborate section of colorful tattoo revealed itself above the top of her jeans. As she stood to move on, she swished her brown hair to the side and more ink appeared at the top of her blouse and up the nape of her neck. "Better not to ask what it is," I said as I moved past Priscilla. Looking-up from her work, she inquired, "What are you talking about?" "No worries," I said, "it is time to crack this nut." What I meant was it was time to start a conversation and see if there was a story to be had.

It only took one comment about his truck to get the guy talking. It seemed he was as eager to speak to us as we were to him. The couple was from Germany, and when I asked the big guy how he came to be driving such an oversized rental vehicle I discovered the reason behind that and much, much more. The wiry and weathered man did not speak much English, but he was not adverse to trying and his wife turned-out to be his personal translator/dictionary. As the little lady cruised the store, her husband began to explain. In broken English he told me they used one of the Internet travel sites to rent a compact car. Upon their arrival in Dallas, there were no small cars available. Seeing the size of her customer, the lady behind the desk said in a Texas drawl, "An itty-bitty car ain't for you sir, what you need is somethin' built for a re-e-eal man." Then she up-sold our tourist friend into the Silverado.

Our new German buddy was quite energetic about his story telling. He spoke so little English he would often hesitate and take a moment to decipher what to say and how to say it. Between his verbal expressions he would become animated, moving his extremities about in all manner of ways and making strange noises. Between odd facial expressions, creative hand and arm movements, body jerks and slight but distinctive dance steps, he would make the noises. Snap, Crackle and Pop had nothing on this guy; he had an entire repertoire of sound bites that highlighted his speech and actions.

At first, tallboy's little woman seemed to be oblivious of his showboating high jinx. She simply surveyed the cases; seemingly content to admire what was under the glass. Occasionally the cumbersome comedian would not be able to pull-up the appropriate word to complete his thought. He would then call out to his companion and give her the word in German. Without looking-up or hesitating in the least, his partner would fill in the gap and our jesting friend would go on with his story. It seemed she was paying close attention after all and had a very good grasp of our native tongue.

We learned he used to be a semi-professional cyclist, loved Lance Armstrong, was 50 years old and now made a living delivering messages on his bicycle in Hamburg. His wife was slightly younger, had a good job with the government and kept him around because he entertained her. He was a kept man. I attempted to get more insight into how he pulled that off, but Her Majesty clicked her tongue and it was time for them to go. Too bad I thought, if I would have had more time I might have discovered how to convince Laurie to "keep” me. Maybe it all starts with a small tattoo? As the couple drove away in their Silverado, I realized we all enjoy a talented jester and when his queen supports him, all is well with the world. Shortly after they left, I noticed Steve looking up tattoo sites on Google. Apparently he had been paying more attention than I thought.

With warm regards Barry Simpson and the team.

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