We have all experienced events where time seemed to stand still, events so profound that we knew in an instant that our lives would never be the same again. The moment may have been when mom and dad first told us the truth about Santa Claus or the birth of your first baby or the crumbling of the twin towers. Yesterday for me was one of those moments.
I get a haircut about every three weeks. I drove over to my usual barber but the atmosphere in the parking lot was eerily different. There were unfamiliar signs on the door. Then I read the cryptic announcement that my barber had retired. My barber for more than two decades had decided to stop cutting my hair without even a warning or consultation. A new barber was taking over in about one month leaving me out in the cold haircutting wise and for a brief moment, I almost lost my will to live.
My barber shop was the last bastion of male dominated space that I could access. The seats in the cramped waiting area did not match. The magazines were well worn editions of hunting and fishing lore along with the occasional guns and ammo selection. The conversation was usually freewheeling with any topic open for discussion but it usually revolved around politics and the second amendment. Any opinion could be voiced and an occasional “f-___” bomb was well tolerated. Any ethnic group was open for criticism and, if present, accepted the remarks with the usual grace anyone would have when their very genetic heritage was insulted. I never witnessed any gun play or physical confrontations but there were rumors.
In my dazed mental state, I suddenly found myself walking in the door of, dare I say it, a hair salon? What was I thinking? The barber chairs were not the big hulking ones I was used to since childhood but rather small, sleek and modern. I didn’t feel comfortable. The only other customer was an older woman having some type of goo painted on her hair. All sort of hair products were on display, the magazines did not have one picture of a dead animal or someone in camo and there was no ribald banter going on. The barbers were all young women. The place was clean and smelled fairly good. I was asked if I could be helped but I could barely speak. Somehow using grunts and finger pointing I got across the idea that I wanted a haircut (why else would I have come in?).
The next question was a real stunner: “Do you use scissors or clippers ?”. I never knew I had a choice and once again words failed me. “Use whatever you need”, I said, once again demonstrating my total loss of speech. The hair cut went well but it was all a blur and when I was finished I was asked if I wanted my hair washed. “No more, please” I said, paid my bill and left. The haircut was fine and the barber (please, don’t make me say stylist) was polite but I think she knew I had just suffered some major mental health trauma since women are sensitive that way.
I will have the need for at least one more haircut before my old barber shop opens up with a new barber. My hope is that the new barber is an older man perhaps with an Italian accent. I am sure he would know if I use scissors or clippers without even asking. I promised myself I will not get attached to this new barber in case it doesn’t work out.