Have you ever gone to a barber you happen to see along the way, just on a impulse because you were in desperate need of a haircut? I did today and halfway into the operation I was getting worried about the skills of the person wielding scissors about my head.
You may have been in this situation too, when the barber looks a little perplexed and keeps jumping around your head snipping or buzzing off hair randomly instead of a steady methodical approach. My barber this afternoon bore a perplexed look that moved toward anxiety and then to an apparent state of mild panic softened by desperate confusion. She tried to calm me with comments like, “you have a lot of hair”, which I took as for code meaning “I’m lost in your mop” “Or I usually only give crew cuts” which I eventually translated as “You had a lot of hair and I am just glad there’s enough left to cover the bald spots”.
I’ve been in barbering situations like this before and it’s always a frightening situation because I’m never really sure if I should simply call a truce and rip off the gown and flee or stick it out and hope for the best. So I just tend to just sit there, hope that like a Rubik’s cube it will all fall magically into place eventually.
I imagine that for the barber, it’s kind of a like a bush you want to trim and then you take a little more off than you intended and think it can be saved by cutting off just a little more…then more…,then more, then it’s just too late.
My main mistake was speaking to her in Spanish I think because I was the only customer in the shop and appeared to be perhaps the only one who had been in there all day long. When I arrived she was reclined in her barber chair watching TV and talking on the phone. Upon my arrival she had to skitter into a closet to turn on the lights and I thought I’d scared her into a suddenly urgent bathroom break when she disappeared.
Her English was limited and I think my time in her chair would have been as well, and perhaps I’d have left with less than a high and tight Marine Corps “trim” if I had only started to jabber at her in English. Instead we had a very neighborly chat about families and the economy and the fact that her poor husband – a tree trimmer – hasn’t worked in three months.
Ah well, my mistake. I suppose my first clue should have been the fact that the shop had a sandwich board along the road. Good barbers never need more than a red, white and blue rotating barber pole to announce their presence. The second clue should have been its location across the street from the “Hoppy Brew Pub”. I calculate that no decent barber would set up shop across the street from a brewery since all their customers would be lousy tippers saving their extra money for beer afterward.
I’ll know for sure in the morning how she did, after the gel is washed out and my pillow squashes down the blow dried bouffant she crafted for me and which I proudly shopped under at Safeway on the way home. Barbers know nothing better than how to sculpt out all their errors.
Perhaps I should have stayed faithful to my senior-citizen cowboy barber in midtown who regales me in obscenity-laced English with tales of vintage cars, animals he and his brother have killed and a Christmas tree in his house that he keeps on display and decorated year-round.