February. Valentines Day run up. Where else to start the cold snowy Saturday morning but at Marv’s barbershop.

“Morning, how ya doing” I ask as I come through the door ? He holds his hands to the side of his head; sleepy I guess he’s saying. More silence while I get into the  chair a 40-year ritual begins with wrapping the blue cloth cover, and paper neck cover.

His coin collection, in little binders on the shelf, has grown I

How Would a Patriot Act?

How Would a Patriot Act? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

see. He notices me looking and begins to collect binders for my review. A lengthy explanation of each ones origin and value ensues.

The door opens and a local—Ned—appears. Dirty long hair, beard, large stomach and a tattered jeans. He nods at me,  the obvious newcomer in the chair, as he looks me over.


Clippers snaps into action, gray hair falls to my shoulders. “Fucking politicians” says Ned launching into all the ‘crooks’ (read God dam crooks) in the capital. Ned stutters through a long story about his job as the local tax assessor and how he goes around valuing houses and businesses.

More silence.

Next comes a pronouncement. “This village has a fucking hermit. Lives down the road (unnamed) then one mile up in the woods in a 8-sided shack . Goddamdest thing I ever saw,” says the taxman. “Lives off the land and picks apples in the fall. Man like that shouldn’t have to pay taxes living like that.”

More silence.

“You a flatlander”, he asks? “Yes”, I mumble.

More silence.

“Your secret is staying with me.” As he smiles a near toothless grin.

Shaving creams applied to the back of my neck and shaved off, talcum power is liberally sprinkled, and very old blue Agua Velva aftershave slapped on  my face.

“That will be $5.00— cash please” Marv says. “Didn’t want to pay any taxes again this year”

Thinking about the barber and the tax man after I leave I wonder what the U.S.  the Attorney General might think about this subversive place. Or should I go straight to Homeland Security and expect that they enforce all appropriate provisions to the Patriot Act!


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