June 3rd, 2003
So yesterday I got a haircut. I went to my usual place – a one room, one barber joint that’s been there awhile.
I go to a barbershop I guess for the culture of it. It’s a typically male experience.
So when I get there there’s already a fellow in the chair. A man in his sixties or seventies. So I sit in one of the two “waiting” chairs. These themselves are barber chairs, though I’ve no idea when the last time someone used them that way. I peruse the reading material — what do we have? Maxim with Monica Belucci on the cover, last month’s Playboy, and a sportsfishing magazine whose title I don’t recall. There was a fourth, too — maybe a gambling magazine?
For a long while, I refused to come to go to this establishment. The main dude is a likable fellow, but occasionally, as older men are wont to do, particularly older white men, he spouts a joke or comment that’s just too off-color, or racial for my taste.
For about six months I refused to come to this guy because of one particularly egregious comment. I’ll not detail it here, but it made me a little sick.
Even sicker, I found myself at a loss as to how to react. I think I weakly said something like “well come on now man, that’s not true what you’re saying” … and then let it go. Had this been a friend or family member, I’d have pressed the issue. As it is, I voted with my feet and simply didn’t patronize the establishment for a long while.
I rationalized my lack of backbone by saying that I’d done what capitalism says I should do — punish poor vendors by not buying from them.
Another part of me thinks — why does it matter? — this is a man who is old, and part of a generation with archaic views. They will soon enough die, and those with (supposedly) more progressive views will be left.
And yet another part of me thinks of that line — “all it takes for there for there to be evil in the world is for good men to do nothing.”
Then again, do I really want to challenge the beliefs of someone who is holding very sharp implements next to my head? Is that the moment to say “I object to your archaic worldview” — how smart would that be, in a Machiavellian sense?
So I didn’t use him for several months.
But now that I lack a car, I can’t go to the shop I like in Clairemont, at least not easily. This leaves me with things close to work. And this barber is close to work.
What I want to type here is that there is a great lesson here, or that I made a bold move of some kind in defense of the melting pot, and I am a great champion of diversity. The truth is, I’m just a guy who gets his hair cut. There are worse things I guess.
Anyway, yesterday the thing that was most interesting was the music selection whilst I was in the chair, getting my hair cut. It was Edith Piaf. Singing her melancholy, beautiful French song to the older gentlemen in attendance. (Population: me, the barber, and another older fellow).
I found it incongruous and delightful simultaneously to be exposed to some Edith Piaf. I was delighted further that when one song ended, another began! The guy who was in the on-deck-circle inquired about it. Asking what tape it was. Turns out it was handcrafted by the barber. My quasi-racist throwback of a barber knows how to make a mix tape! I couldn’t help but be impressed.
For some reason I felt my trip was worthy for that reason alone.
Bonus: the haircut is pretty good. Short on the sides, slightly longer up top.
Postscript: I’m flirting with the notion of reviving my goatee. We’ll see how long it lasts.