Home > Pre-Japan > Life and Death at a Barber Shop

Life and Death at a Barber Shop

Three things on the agenda today. I want to talk about:

  • My second near-death experience in California (the first being waves)
  • My inevitable future marriage plans
  • The death of some of the great performers in TV, music, and movie history this past week.

Upon review, this may be the most morbid thing I have written to date. Ah well, on with the show!

Let us begin with a story that has its beginning one morning at breakfast with the grandparents. “Look at that wildebeast over there!” My grandfather exclaimed as he caught sight of my hair. Having just come out of the shower, I will admit my hair could have rivaled a porcupine in terms of spiky-ness. I find it’s more malleable when it becomes dry if it dries in spikes such as the ones I was sporting this certain morning. My grandmother, in her special way, adds: “While it looks lovely, I know a wonderful barber who can cut your hair.” Quick translation: “Cut your hair!” I experienced similar comments with my (self proclaimed temporary) handlebar moustache. “It looks very handsome, but I think it is uneven!” She remarked on that day. It was not uneven, just a bit lighter on one side, for the record. I promptly went upstairs and removed the offending follicles from my face. On the wildebeast morning, I rebutted that it made no sense for me to get my hair cut while in California, as I would undoubtedly get it cut yet again a few days before I leave for Japan. “It’s a waste of money”, I cleverly added, knowing my grandparents’ near insane drive to save even pennies when buying groceries and other items. “I’d be happy to pay for it” was the response. “Damn,” I thought. Clearly a change was required.

And so it was I found myself a few days later wandering down Fay Avenue in LaJolla on my way to make a reservation at a Japanese restaurant when I noticed a barber shop across the street. How convenient! I will never know whether the fact that this barber shop existed on this certain street was a main factor in my grandmother asking me to make the reservation she could have made easily over the phone. Who am I to ignore the signs, however. I popped my head in and inquired after an appointment. “I can fit ya in at 3:30 if that’s alright” was the cheery response from the heavy set female barber with dyed blonde hair. It being 2:30, I spent the remaining hour exploring the shops available in Lajolla, and searching for a “hott California boy” squishy enough to bring along with me in a suitcase, at the request of one of my lady friends back in Boston. My search was fruitless. Perhaps they were all at the beach on such a lovely sunny day.

Leave it to Calvin and Hobbes to sum it up perfectly

Leave it to Calvin and Hobbes to sum it up perfectly

Promptly at 3:25 I arrived at the barber shop ready for my appointment. “That f***ing b****” were the first words I heard as I entered the stuffy little shop. Eyes open, ears perked, I sat down in one of the two chairs set out for waiting customers. I noticed that the atmosphere had changed from the first time I entered the shop asking for an appointment an hour ago. “Perhaps someone walked out without paying?” I asked to myself. Not to worry, I was soon to find out the true reason behind this sudden verbal outburst. “So instead of him comin’ down and tellin’ me himself, he sends his fat f***ing b**** wife to tell me!” Her diatribe continues. “I was supposed to have two weeks! Now I gotta be outa here by today! What a f***ing [baby cat]* And I gotta somehow come up with $500 by the end of the month to pay my rent. That [son born out of wedlock] knew I didn’t have enough money to cover my rent, and he f***ing fired me anyway.” Aha. An hour ago, I had innocently arrived at the door of a perfectly happy, perfectly stable barber, who, while worried about her career prospects in two weeks, had accepted the fact that there was nothing to be done but cut more hair. An hour later, I had (still innocently) entered a shop with a very angry, rather unstable woman wielding a pair of scissors and a straight razor.

Two choices presented themselves before me as I sat in my chair, now slightly shaken. I could A) quietly (but quite noticeably) stand up and take my leave of the place, knowing full well that the eyes of the very angry, rather unstable woman wielding a pair of scissors and a straight razor would most certainly notice my departure, yet with my neck, throat, and ears entirely intact on my face, or  B) remain in my seat, put on a concerned smile, and pray to the heavens I don’t end up a delicious meat pie at the restaurant downstairs. (Who gets the movie reference, let me know!)

For reasons unknown even to myself, I chose option B.

When it was finally my turn on the chair (notice how they use the same words when being given a lethal injection) I arose (wobbly) and made my way to my fate. The customer ahead of me, much to my relief, turned out to be a regular customer and remained to chat after his haircut. In my mind, this at least halved the chance of me being a tasty dinner in a few hours, as there was now a witness. The customer, perhaps reading my various nervous signs, joked that I was worried about keeping my face squarely on top of my body for the duration of the haircut as the barberess continued to rant about her (now former) employer. I forced a laugh, and the disgruntled ex employee responded: “Oh don’t you worry honny, I could cut your hair with my eyes closed!” (Please don’t.) “If it weren’t for your ears I’d cut your hair with my eyes closed” she added immediately afterwards. (Never in my life have I blessed my ears as I blessed them in that moment. Sweet, life saving ears.) The rest of the session continued fairly eventless (at least compared to my previous 10 or 15 minutes.) Looking in the mirror, it appeared the visions of my death had been greatly exaggerated. My hair, in fact, looked quite fine, and my ears, neck and throat were just as I had left them when I walked in at that fateful time, just to get my hair cut. I dusted off the front of my shirt as I stood up from the barber chair, paid, wished the woman luck on her future ventures, and exited the shop.

From the Front

From the Front

From the side

From the side

I practically skipped home. Nothing like a near death experience, mostly fueled by an active imagination, to give one a new breath of life. I was alive! And with a new haircut to boot!

Ok. I know I said I had three things to talk about today, but I’m doing my best to limit my posts to a reasonable length. I’ll address the other two items in my next entry.

Thanks for reading!


*I have done my best to censor the most vile of her exclamations, either with ***s or with words of phrases synonymous with the word or phrase she herself used, in order to keep this blog as family friendly as possible, under the circumstances.

P.S., did you know there’s a comment feature on this blog? I’d love it if you used it 🙂

Categories: Pre-Japan
  1. Elise
    June 28, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Love the additions of pictures Dash. And yes, I did get the movie reference. I was just chatting about that movie at lunch on Friday.

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