The Groomer

The Groomer

By Robert B. Martin Jr.

(To the tune of "The Gambler". 
Words and Music by Don Schlitz; 
recorded by Kenny Rogers.)*

On a cool spring time mornin’
In a hall out in nowhere
I met up with the groomer;
It was still too dark to see.
So we took turns a starin’
Out the window at the darkness
‘til boredom overtook 
and he began to speak

He said, “Son, I’ve made a life
of manipulating roses,
And knowin’ where their centers were
by the way the petals lie.
And if you don’t mind my sayin’,
I can see you’re carryin’ discards
For a taste of your coffee
I’ll give you some advice."

So I handed him my bottle
and he drank down my last swallow
Then he eyed my doughnut
and asked me for a bite.
And the morn got deathly quiet,
and his face lost all expression.
Said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy,
ya gotta learn to play it right.

You got to know when to show ‘em,
Know when to stow ‘em,
Know when to walk them in,
know when to run.
You never count your trophies
at the preparation table,
There’ll be time enough for countin’
when the judgin’s done.

Ev’ry groomer knows,
that the secret to the trophies
Is knowing what to set aside
And knowin’ what to keep.
‘Cause you can’t make a winner,
Out of a somethin’ that's a loser,
and the best that you can hope for
is a couple of hours of sleep.”

And when he’d finished speakin’,
he turned back toward his table,
Folded up his entry tags
and faded out of sight.
And somewhere in the darkness
the groomer muttered softly
But in his final words I found
a star that shed some light.

You got to know when to show ‘em,
Know when to stow ‘em,
Know when to walk them in,
know when to run.
You never count your trophies
at the preparation table,
There’ll be time enough for countin’
when the judgin’s done.

*(Dedicated to my friend and mentor, Jeff Stage)