I wrote this about four years ago and a lady remembered it and asked if I would rerun it. Well, you know me; I cannot turn down a request from a pretty lady, so here it is.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I attract some of the strangest people. Now, I don’t mean crazy people, although some might be considered borderline, but just strange individuals. I’m not complainin’ by any means. They are definitely interestin’. Anywho, the reason I’m tellin’ y’all this is because of what happened to me the other day.I was out of town and went into an eatin’ establishment that I had never been before. I went in because, well, I was hungry. It was sort of a laid back place. You know the kind of place I mean; you grab any table that’s open, sit where you want; that kind of place.

I found a little corner table, sat down, and it wasn’t long before a young lady came over with a menu and a glass of water. I looked the menu over and before long she was back and took my order.

I leaned back in my chair tippin’ it against the wall and looked around at the other people in the place. I was by far the oldest person in there by several decades.

At one table sat a group of what I call kids, although they were probably in the early twenties. I noticed that they were all starin’ at me. They were all about as big around as a Q-tip and dressed somewhat alike in that they all had on plaid shirts and what looked like painted on jeans. A couple of them had on those little flat caps.

I smiled at them and nodded my head. They smiled and all turned back and started talkin’ to one another. Then one of them stood up and started walkin’ toward me. The others were watchin’ him as he came. When he reached my table I was lookin’ up at him. He was sheepishly smilin’ and then he spoke.

“Your beard,” he said pointin’ at my face.

“Yes,” I replied. “It is my beard.”

“No,” he said. “It’s a nice beard.”

“Thanks,” I said. “If you think this one’s nice, you should have seen my mother’s.”

“Really?” he said. I chuckled and shook my head.

“May I question you about your beard?” he asked.

“You want to question me about my beard?”

“Yeah, if you don’t mind.”

I pointed at the other chair at my table. “Sure,” I said and pointed at the other chair. “Take a load off.”

“Pardon me?”

“Sit down,” I said. “No use you havin’ to stand up.”

“Oh! OK. Thanks,” he said and sat down.

After he got settled in, I said, “Shoot.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You said you had questions, let me have ‘em.”

“Oh, yeah! Uh, you see, uh, we, my friends and I, were wonderin’ what kind of oil you use on your beard?”

“Oil?”

“Yeah. You know, beard oil.”

“Well,” I said. “I used to use Valvoline, but I switched over to Pennzoil. I seemed to be able to go longer between changes.”

This kid pulled out his phone and started typin’ on it. “Uh,” he said. “How do you spell Pennzoil, and where do you get it.”

I just looked at him. “Are you pullin’ my leg, kid?” I asked.

He leaned back and looked under the table at my legs and said, “No.”

I chuckled. “I mean, are you kiddin’ me?”

“No. Why would I kid you?”

I finally figured out the kid was semi-clueless.

“Look,” I said. “I was kiddin’ you. Those were motor oils, I was tellin’ you about.”

“You put motor oil on you beard?”

I chuckled again. “No. Look, why do you want to know about my beard?”

“Well, my friends and I noticed it when you walked in and agreed that it really looked nice, and we are all growing beards and thought you might could give us some pointers.”

I looked over at his friends and they were all lookin’ at us. I also noticed that what they called beards, looked more like the last stages of the mange. All of them together wouldn’t have made up a good goatee. I looked back at him.

“How old are you?” I asked.

“Twenty,” he replied.

“And you want a good beard?”

“And thick, like yours,” he said.

“And white like mine?” I asked.

He smiled, “Well no.”

“Look,” I said. “When I was your age, I had about three hairs on my chin. I couldn’t grow a good beard until I was nearly 30, and then it still had a few holes in it. And as for oil, the only oil I have on my beard is probably bacon grease, and that’s not on purpose. I trim it when I start gnawin’ on hair, and I brush it before I go to church, and that’s it. You young fellows get caught up in all this foo foo stuff when you ought to be thinkin’ about girls.”

“That’s why we want to grow a good beard,” he said.

“You think a beard is goin’ to attract a girl?” I asked. “Boy, I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d be willin’ to bet that if you’d shave that mess you have there off, buy you a pair of Wranglers instead of those, those, whatever they are, you’d have a better chance of gettin’ a girl. What kind of britches do you have on there anyway? And how in the devil did you even get those things on? Boy, they’re so tight, if you poot you’ll probably blow those funny little boots off.”

He looked at me and laughed. “Would you like to come over and eat with us?” he asked.

I looked at him for a minute. “You want me to eat with y’all? Why?”

“You’re funny and remind me of my grandfather.”

I chuckled again. “Well, what the heck?” I said and grabbed my glass of water and stood up. “Let’s go.”

And that, my friends, is how you bridge the generation gap.

Rusty Mitchum lives in New Harmony, Texas, where he writes a regular column for The Lindale News and Times. He says the only reason he writes is to keep the voices away.