Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another Long-winded and Tedious Account of a Rather Unpleasant Experience at the Barber on a Slightly Overcast Saturday Afternoon

Now don't get me wrong. I don't claim that I can't get a good haircut. Just not a good haircut twice in a row. And as it were, the last haircut I'd had was one of the better ones in recent memory. Understandably, I was a bit apprehensive when I walked in at the local corner barbershop last Saturday.

Once inside the barbershop, I was asked to kindly seat myself and peruse through a pile of magazines next to a plant that looked suspiciously like a Venus fly trap. I did so duly. Halfway through the June issue of Golf Today, I noticed a rather animated game of poker going on in the backroom behind one of the counters. One of the barbers must have noticed me noticing the game, for suddenly he hollered "Yo Frank! Customer's waiting for you, man". Slight commotion ensued. Presently, Frank emerged from behind the table. Judging by his expression, he hadn't been having a particularly good game. This did not bode well.

After tucking in the white sheet and adjusting the chair, Frank asked me what kind of a haircut I would like. A tough question, no doubt, but I was well prepared. "Uh, just a medium cut, please".

Something in that response stymied Frank. He looked puzzled. "You want it short?"

"Ummm... Yes, but not too short. Just, well... about average length, you know". Frank nodded understandingly. My sense of foreboding grew stronger.

Now let me take a minute here to explain to you what I meant by a medium cut. The medium cut, as you probably are aware, is a regular haircut, with the hair being cut neither too long, nor too short; just about somewhere in-between. A simple concept really. One would expect it would be the first thing to be taught in barber school. If not, then it bloody well should be. Most barbers coming out of these new-fangled hair institutes are spoilt stupid. Can't bloody think for themselves. I bet they couldn't even cut a blade of grass without asking you ten times about the length of the grass, angle of incision, and the phase of the moon. Where's the creativity I ask you? The ingenuity? The craft?

Oh, how I miss the days of yore. When men were real men, women were real women, and barbers were true artists with self-expression and pride. Like Abdullah.

Yes sir, good old Abdullah. Here was a real barber from the old school. One that never bothered asking what kind of a coiffure you wanted. He just knew. And he was always right. Abdullah never asked you if you needed sideburns or a square finish at the back. In fact, come to think of it, Abdullah never really spoke that much at all. Not one for idle chatter, Abdullah. A true professional if there ever was one. Maybe it was his supreme mastery of the art, or perhaps it was the fact that he was the only barber in town, but not once did I hear anyone complain about their haircut. Everyone in school, irrespective of age, size, gender or race, had the same haircut. And it was just right. Abdullah had mastered the medium cut.

I snapped out of my reverie to find Frank frantically rummaging through the drawers. Presently, he pulled out an evil looking clipper. Now, I don't know about you, but I could never trust these electronic hedge-trimmers. Not that the sound of a pair of sharp scissors clipping around my ears is particularly reassuring, but there seems to be such little margin of error with these clippers. And such little time to react. Before I knew it, Frank had swiped off the left half of my scalp in a single fell swoop. I started. "Whoa! That's way too short, man".

Franked looked at me. Then blinked slowly. "You want it short?" He had this all wrong. "No, no. I don't want it short. It is too short. I'd like it to be a little longer please". Frank nodded again. Then proceeded to wipe out the right half of my scalp as well.

A few deft snips at the back, and he proclaimed "Done". Done? I opened my eyes just a little to assess the damage. What I saw startled me. He had quite nearly shaved off all the hair at the sides, but had left the front practically untouched.

Then it struck me. I saw what had happened here. I had asked for an average cut. And that's exactly what I got. As Frank saw it,
No hair at top + Clump of hair at front = Average length hair over the total surface area of the head.
Whatever I may say of Frank, at that moment, I suddenly developed a newfound respect for his Math teacher.

Still, I persevered. "Ummm... Could you cut the hair at the front please". Pat came the response, "You want it short?" It was like talking to a gramophone machine.

"No, I do not want it short. But could you just trim it a bit at the front?" "Trim?" Something in that word struck a chord. Frank's eyes lit up. He picked up the scissors this time and dug in merrily through what was left of my hair.

After a while, he decided he'd had enough. There were other, more pressing matters to attend to. Like the poker game, for instance. He brushed off a few stray strands of hair, held up a mirror against my head and asked "Eh?"

I started (again). What was meant to be a medium cut now looked like the quills upon the back of a porpentine. A rather fretful porpentine at that, if I may add. I shook my head weakly and slithered off the chair, muttering a requiem to the dearly departed locks. Frank though, clearly had other things on his mind. "That'll be fifteen dollars, please" he smiled.


At September 27, 2006 at 4:08 PM, Blogger brijwhiz said...

So you basically look a government lackey!

At September 27, 2006 at 4:27 PM, Blogger Raoul said...

Brij: No, I look a porpentine. A rather fretful porpentine.

At September 28, 2006 at 6:40 AM, Blogger brijwhiz said...

my point exactly

At September 28, 2006 at 9:08 AM, Blogger Amit said...

15 Dollars for that haircut! sounded more like Rajni anna shtyle.

Well tough luck dude!

Btw your blog is nice read, i should hang around here more often than news sites :)

At September 28, 2006 at 2:38 PM, Blogger Venky said...

I agree with Brij - pencil pushing govt lackey!!

At September 29, 2006 at 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally worthless without pics!!

Jai Jadeja

At September 29, 2006 at 11:07 PM, Blogger Raoul said...

Gee, such effusive praise... lackey, weirdo, worthless, pencil pusher. Wonder whatever happened to the 'be nice to Raoul' new year resolutions?

Oh, and thanks Amit. You are too kind.

At September 30, 2006 at 5:53 PM, Blogger Vinod said...

Very funny, Raoul! Your second barber story... do you have a penchant for the profession? I myself have had similar experiences...I still insist on getting my hair cut from the same Mexican dudes who play great music but do not seem to understand the words from my mouth!

At December 31, 2006 at 5:14 AM, Blogger Harshal said...

I wish I could write like you someday. the description is really hillarious. Enjoyed reading it.


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