“Blue Haired Willoughby”


   When you live in a small town like ours, sometimes you get a bit thirsty for entertainment. I mean, we’ve all heard most of Windy Wilson’s stories, and the radio and the television stations are in a much bigger town.

  But once in a while, we have Willoughby. I think Dud passed him on the highway before he got here and phoned Doc down at the Mule Barn coffee shop. The entertainment alarm went off more loudly than the tornado siren, and in five minutes flat, we were down at the grocery store, waiting on the latest sales spiel Willoughby might bring.

  Our favorite so far was the artificial seafood with a shelf life longer than written memory, but we were counting on Willoughby to come up with something new and terrific. He didn’t disappoint.

  When he grinned and waved and leaped out of his car, we gasped. Blue hair. Now Willoughby normally had brown hair mixed with gray, a natural look for a middle-aged man. But blue hair?

  We got inside the grocery store quicker than Willoughby. Annette looked up from the cash register at today’s audience and smiled. “Willoughby?” Of course, we said.
  Then here he came, necktie and all, with his sample case.

  “Annette,” he said, “you know we need to keep up with the times, and that’s why I brought you this new age-reversal product called Fall Back. Yes, ma’am, in this kit is the answer to sweeping away the years and returning to that look we had when we were back in school.

  “Inside this modestly-priced kit are hair colors that will mark you as being hip … you know … with it? Blue, green, purple, all the good colors. And then we have this …”

  And he pulled out something that looked like tweezers on steroids.

  “Annette,” said Willoughby, “your customers can bypass all that costly care by doing things for themselves. Yes, this is the combination tattoo needle and piercing clamp. All in one..”

   “Willoughby,” Annette said, “how many times did you have blue hair when you were in school?”

   “Well …”

  “And trot out your tattoos and piercings for us, too,” said Doc.

  Willoughby looked like someone just stepped on his pet frog.

  “I can give you a really good price on this kit, anyway.”

  Doc nodded and whispered. “I’m sure he can.”

Brought to you by Sun Dog Days, a novel of wild horses and gentle cowboys. Available at UNMpress.com.


Newspaper columnist Slim Randles, who writes the weekly Home Country column, took home two New Mexico Book Awards in 2011. His advice book for young people, “A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right,” took first place in the self-help category, and “Sweetgrass Mornings” won in the biography/memoirs category. Randles lives and works in Albuquerque. Home Country reaches 3 million hometown newspaper readers each week

Slim Randles learned mule packing from Gene Burkhart and Slim Nivens. He learned mustanging and wild burro catching from Hap Pierce. He learned horse shoeing from Rocky Earick. He learned horse training from Dick Johnson and Joe Cabral. He learned humility from the mules of the eastern High Sierra. Randles lives in Albuquerque.

Randles has written newspaper stories, magazine articles and book, both fiction and nonfiction. His column appeared in New Mexico Magazine for many years and was a popular columnist for the Anchorage Daily News and the Albuquerque Journal, and now writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country,” which appears in several hundred newspapers across the country.


  Huntington Beach News

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