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By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
Just on principle, I get a haircut every four to six months or so whether I need it or not. I was past due last Sunday, a little shaggy, and it was getting late. Using her smartphone, my wife found a shop that would be open, though, if I hurried.
I hurried, and arrived almost a whole hour before they closed. I went into the shop, wearing the required facemask, and was greeted unenthusiastically by a woman who looked like she wished I was somewhere else. She asked if I had made an online appointment. I confessed I had not, and she said I’d have about a 21-minute wait. I said I could live with that. Then she began an interrogation, asking name, address, phone number—I asked, “Is this necessary?”
“Yes,” she answered. It was for COVID, of course. If the shop caused an outbreak, they needed contact information to let customers know. I handed her my driver’s license to simplify things.
She noted my name. “Youngblood,” she said musingly.
“I’m Kim. Take a seat. Keep your mask on at all times, we’ll call you when it’s your turn.”
Kim did not strike me as overly friendly. Sure, I was not going to invite her to dinner with the family, but I would have at least I would have appreciated some appreciation that I would soon be parting with $13 (senior discount) for a haircut that would be over in a few minutes.
Kim’s hair was long and dark, and I guessed she was still a few years away from retirement. She was a little overweight, but healthy. The visible parts of her body were covered with wild, colorful tattoos. She was a “no nonsense” sort of person, and when a father came in with his son, she made sure they observed mask protocol. I was hoping to get the other stylist (is that what lady barbers are called?), but the kid beat me to her because his father had registered online.
I got Kim, and was mildly apprehensive; but she welcomed me to her chair, told me to keep my mask on, and tied me down with the one of those oversized bibs barbers use. Then immediately, she asked, “Is Youngblood an Indian name?”
If I had a dollar for every time I been asked, “Is Youngblood an Indian name?” I’d still be poor, but I could buy a few dozen lunches at the local diners. I explained how my ancestors decided to leave the Netherlands, or Amsterdam, or someplace or other like that, they signed onto the ship as Jungblud when they boarded, but when they docked in New York, the name was spelled phonetically as Youngblood. They went south from there, and settled in so they could fight in the Civil War. I assured Kim, however, there is Indian blood in my veins from both sides of the family, but mostly on Mom’s. I asked, “What about you?”
“Full blooded Chickasaw,” she answered proudly.
Well, this got me started. Any Indian blood in my ancestry would likely have been from deep Southeastern tribes—Seminole, Creek, Timucua, maybe. Of course, I had to brag about the Native American heritage in Oklahoma.
I asked her last name, and it did not sound “Indian” at all. Over the years, I’ve known Steve Buffalohead, Grayfeather and her husband Fred Bushyhead, and Billy Gray Fox, and other Indians whose exotic (to my ears, anyway) names were fascinating. The name Kim Ferguson somehow did not quite create the same romantic imagery.
“I kept the name of my second husband for my children’s benefit,” Kim explained. When we got back on the subject of her heritage, I told her about artifacts I’ve found on my family’s humble 20 acres of land at Briar Circle that the Ouachita National Forest borders. “I have land in Caddo Gap in Arkansas,” she responded. “That’s where I’m going when I retire.”
“Caddo Gap! Kim, I’ve been there dozens of times!”—and we will continue from here next week.