2.42 Haircuts Revisited

Haircuts are functional. I usually just get buzzed on the sides and leave a little on the top. It’s simple and almost no one can screw it up, depending on where you go. I’ve tried to grow my hair fashionably long, but it curls straight up and looks ridiculous. Since moving last year, I go to the hair salon inside the neighbouring shopping centre. It’s not great, but I don’t have to wait. Functional.

Last week, I approached the hair salon and the woman at the front desk said Bernardo would be with me in a moment. Sure enough, Bernardo waved me over. An old Italian man, he looked like he hadn’t smiled in a while. He draped the poncho-like sheeting over my shoulders and clipped it so tight I could hardly breathe. Bernardo didn’t speak, he just started cutting my hair. Even though I ask for a generic cut, to me, not asking was like going into a restaurant and someone starts making you food, instead of inquiring as to what you actually want.

As soon as we started, another man walked in. Bernardo mumbled something and pointed to the waiting area. He buzzed the sides of my head and then motioned me over to the hair-washing station. For some reason, an old Italian man caressing my head and washing my hair felt strange. But his hands were soft.

We returned to the chair, he put his hands on my shoulders and mumbled, “I’ll be right back.” And he walked away.

Next to me, an elderly British woman was getting her hair curled. She hadn’t stopped talking since I arrived. She was annoying. It was like she gets her hair curled just so she has someone who will listen to her non-stop jabbering. The poor woman working on her hair looked like she was going to use the hair curler in a different way then it was originally intended to be used. She made eye contact with me, noticed I was abandoned and smiled, as if to say, “Oh! That Bernardo! He’s up and left again!”

The man waiting grew increasingly frustrated. First, he tried to read a magazine, but I guess People did not include any topics of interest. He was looking at me as if I had an answer. He was focusing his anger on the wrong person.

I turned to the mirror. I grew uncomfortable. I was sitting in a chair staring at myself. I couldn’t get up and leave, my hair was half cut. Plus, the tightness of the poncho restricted any arm motion. My hair was very short around the sides and long on the top. If I left now, I would look worse then when I try to grow it fashionably long. The more I stared into the mirror, the more I spotted the imperfections on my face. My nose was too big. Laugh-lines were increasingly turning into wrinkles. My ears stuck out.

My mind went deeper, as though the mirror was some kind of portal into exploring everything that was wrong with me. I was deep into some kind of existential and abstract discourse within my soul when Bernardo returned. He didn’t mumble a word, didn’t say where he went, just picked up his scissors and continued where he left off.

There were three young kids running around. Should there be kids loose in a hair salon where people handled sharp objects like scissors and electrical elements like hair curlers so close to our brains? As the kids came closer to Bernardo, I worried that one of them would bump into him, sending the scissors right through my ear. I was reminded of a time a while ago when a hair stylist shaved my sideburns and back of my neck with a straight razor. There were kids running around in that salon as well. When the stylist bent down to do the back of my head, the kids were playing around right behind him. Every time they moved, my body tensed, waited for the kids to bump into him and the straight razor to cut into the back of my neck.

But Bernardo was a professional. He finished up, I said it looked good. This got him excited in such a way I actually understood what he said: “Good? What do you mean, you look great!” There might have been a hint of anger in his voice. The man waiting sighed with impatience, I paid and left the salon. Bernardo's comment was a bit exaggerated, after all, my nose was too big and my ears stuck out. At least my hair looked great.