Monday, March 28, 2005

My Barbershop

Last Refuge?

Being deeply esconced in the homogeneity and commercial blandness of suburbia, I have to travel cross-town to avoid the Super-Cuts and Pro-Cuts and other monuments to vapidity in order to get a trim.

No teen queen is going to be seen easing my head back into a wash basin to get the shampoo and rinse. No dazed walk from the sink to the chair wrapped in a plastic sheet for me. No hip, canned music playing in the background giving the impression of a party. And I don't read US magazine.

Let me tell you about my barbershop:

Pictures of fighters and football players surround the heads of large mammals on the walls. The TV is tuned to auto racing, and a straight edge is used around the ears and neck. But beyond these standard features, I get to hear real conversations from the three barbers (two men and one woman):

Woman Barber was excited to tell me on Friday that she's getting married this week to her long lost boyfriend. He's been in prison for 20 years, and was recently released due to Arnold's prison release program. He doesn't have any prospects for work, and they ran into each other just three months ago at the Raiders game, but it all is just falling into place.

Man Barber #1 during my last visit unbuttoned his shirt to show me the stab wound he received in a bar fight. It wasn't just a scar, but a deep gash a few inches north of his left peck. Doctor told him a little lower and he'd be dead. I was assured that his assailant has his own wound as a souvenir.

Man Barber #2 a while back reached into his scissor drawer and pulled out a box full of wild boar teeth from a recent kill in the local hills. He only hunts with bow and arrow, and has had one ram its tusks into his leg.

The barbershop is the last refuge of reality in a synthetic world, where social pretense is left at the door and business is conducted in cash. Give me ex-cons, bar fights, and boar hunts any day, just don't ask if I want gel.