Let's Talk Scrapes & Scratches


So, let’s talk a little bit about scrapes and scratches.

Today, I learned an invaluable lesson: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So that means if you want to be the big bad-ass Patrón on the Hacienda, you simply got to dress like one.

In other words, today I got smart, by learning to dress smart.

Over the last couple months, I already had learned how necessary boots are in the high mountain desert, if only because absolutely everyone we talk to mentions “the rattlesnakes.”

Admittedly, practically every night I go to bed dreading that first inevitable encounter. Actually, what looms larger is my fear for the children, I not only remind them daily, but begin to feel a little anxious anytime they stray from eye or ear sight.

Thus and therefore, it was after half a dozen of these ominous advisories that It occurred to me that boots serve other purposes than shit-kicking.

The same went for bandannas. Albeit, COVID served as the conduit for my daily inclination to look like a bandito, once again, after coming to this dust bowl of paradise, I realized that real cowboys probably wear bandannas to avoid choking down dirt every day.

Finally, the third dress-for-success tip that I’ve learned over the last couple of months is that - now that I have to wear pants again - after a year of sweatpants and pjs - I need a belt.

Well, today, I learned a few more lessons.

1. Have you ever seen a farmer dressed in short sleeves? Yeah, I realized there’s a reason. Whether you’re roping steer, installing more barbed wire or just clearing the deadwood from all the piñon and Juniper on your property, you’re bound to be preyed upon by thorny branches like a cat pouncing on you from a hot tin roof - rrrrarrr!

Neither machismo or perseverance help in this regard, once you realize trying to soak in a boiling-hot hot tub with chlorine is like welcoming back the Inquisition.

So, new best-dressed lesson #4, wear one of them corduroy shirts you used to wear in junior high in the 70s, there’s a reason why Carhart and Dickies clothes are so stiff.

2. Wear a hat. Now, I already was quite hip to this, being that I have long always worn a big brimmed hat whenever I’m out in the sun: at the beach, on long hikes in the forest, and especially in the desert. If only for the same reason you should wear long-sleeved shirts - the sun can kill you, melanoma is not a joke.

That all said, I learned today that a big hat can also protect your eyes as well. I spent a couple hours pulling and tugging and pouncing upon old brittle branches and found that the brethren at top sought vengeance by constantly poking me in the head. Each and every time I thought and felt damn lucky that one of them leafless-and-lifeless sticks didn’t poke an eye out.

Hence, I ask you dear reader: Is it a mere coincidence that we moved from Peekskill, the town with the original Yellow Brick Road that inspired L. Frank Baum, to Cerrillos, the land of enchanted haunted forests?

3. And GQ-tip #6 (rural edition), jeans make sense to me now.

I wore them for a very brief period as a freshman in high school, but I always found that they were a little too taut in the front... I’m not bragging here, simply acknowledging that I’ve got a big butt, and this was before “loose fit” came in to fashion. So, I literally have not worn a pair of jeans for a good 40 years.

That said, today my khakis simply didn’t hold up to the task. The same arbory pins and needles prodded me into realizing that Levi’s were made for miners and cowboys and ranch hands, because they can handle the brazen touch of the bramble, if not the unforgiving spines of cacti that whittle their way into the epidermian-realm, where they lie there laughing, if only to remind you (no matter how hard you hopelessly try to remove them), “Papí, you’re in my territory now.”

So, there you have it y’all. It’s bedtime for this expat New Yorker by-way-of-NoCal, and now a proud and happy New Mexican.

And to think, the journey’s barely begun.