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The Slice: A ‘mountain’ of praise

On Friday, I ducked out of the rain and into a cafe I had not visited in a while.

As I stepped to the cash register to pay for some take-out chili, the young woman ringing me up looked at my face. Then she weighed in on my new beard.

“Mountain man,” she said.

Now there’s a self-image I’ve never tried on before.

By the time you read this, I will have undergone the Big Trim of 2009, to be followed soon after by the Great Nov. 1 Shave-Off.

But as I walked back to the newspaper, I found myself imagining a new lifestyle — a mountain man lifestyle.

I could go on ’coon hunts, distill a few jugs of moonshine, learn to play the banjo and start addressing my wife as “old woman.”

I would need a new wardrobe, of course. And this might cause my co-workers to speculate about my state of mind.

“What’s with Turner?”

“He’s become a mountain man. Wants to be called Jedidiah.”

“Well, if that’s what it takes to get him to stop writing about his beard, it works for me.”

Now, if this sounds like I am being a condescending South Hill twit, let me explain. When I think “mountain man,” I’m visualizing that as a mostly positive thing.

You know, soft-spoken, self-sufficient, honest and beloved by hounds — as opposed to, say, a paranoid, off-the-grid political wingnut.

The Inland Northwest is not Appalachia. I know that. But we have our own mountain man tradition here. And by adopting this new lifestyle, I would simply be paying tribute to part of our rural heritage.

Though, on second thought, I’d kind of hate to give up riding my bike. A backwoodsman would have a mule or a 50-year-old pickup. So maybe I’ll just do the mountain man thing for Halloween and call it a day.

After all, the beard sort of messes up my usual plan to go as mild-mannered Clark Kent.

Today’s Slice question: Ever been flipped off by another driver in a church parking lot?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail Who’s the best-looking person on TV at 4:30 a.m.?

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