“Can I fix your hair?” said a woman behind me.
Seconds earlier she had sat five stools away at Pitch’s East, drinking beer and a Crown and coke. She was dark haired, dark skinned, sun burned in the face, verging on OTA or perhaps already there, and giggling up a storm.
It was a sunny afternoon in May and I was drinking a beer after a grueling day on my new construction job and scrawling lyrics for a country song that would be be the first country song in music history that rhymed Smirnoff with gettin’ off and farts with Karl Marx.
My hair was long, brown, gray, dusty, sweaty, messy. I had a month-long beard going. I smelled of paint and plywood.
Before I could answer, the woman ran her hands through my hair and started massaging my scalp and shaping a style. She was at my right side now, and I turned toward her. She had a huge smile, dark eyes, and a couple nicks and scars. Her breasts grazed my shoulder.
She belonged in the kink modern Western I had recently started writing. I suspected she was already living it.
“Sure,” I said. “You think it needs fixing?”
She kept massaging and styling. Her touch felt incredible. I was getting turned on!
“This will make you look less crazy,” she slurred. “You’re handsome.”
I watched her work my hair in the mirror of the back bar. That turned me on as well.
“There,” she said, as she extricated her hands from my hair, but not before twirling several strands of gray hair into a thicker one, a braid, and letting it hang loose to the right of my nose.
She came around to my left side and we struck up a conversation. She had a first name without a vowel, worked the graveyard shift as a caregiver in a local nursing home (“I finally found my purpose.”), lived in a condemned house not far away, with a hundred-pound pig as a a pet and roommate, wrote poetry and affirmations on the walls of the house, and planned on buying a RV and taking the pig on the road and working as an itinerant caregiver. The pig didn’t care much for men and sometimes attacked them. “She’s going to keep me single the rest of my life,” she said while laughing.
I thanked her for the styling and commended her commitment to a job that paid $11 an hour for an ethically bankrupt nation. I thought about buying her a drink, but sensed she’d had enough.
It was time for me to go home and whip up supper from some cans.
As I stood up from the bar, she said, “You want to see my pig?”
I was tempted.
If I had, the Western would have written itself.