The haircut

AS A YOUNG boy, I spent summers with my grandparents in southwest Georgia, and I got haircuts in town in a spot that could have served as a Norman Rockwell poster.

Zipping forward to the 1970s, I lived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on two almost abutting occasions. One lasted 11 months, and the other lasted five. During the fiver, I didn’t get a haircut. It was the ’70s, so nobody noticed my shagginess.

But during the 11-month stay, I did get one haircut. I didn’t speak Spanish at the time, so I was hesitant to use a Puerto Rican joint. So I caught a plane to the Virgins.

GrumanGooseBWTitleIt was an old Grumman Goose seaplane that skimmed the seas between San Juan and St. Thomas. I knew I’d find an English-speaking barber shop in Charlotte Amalie.

I have no memory of where I got my haircut in the Virgins nor how much it cost. Those were my drinking days.

Before and after I lived in San Juan, I lived in New Orleans where I got haircuts on Magazine Street at an old-timey place that could have been a Norman Rockwell poster too, though you rarely spotted kids in there.

Rockwell was fond of children.

It was next door to Casamento’s Restaurant (Oysters). Some Italian guy cut my black locks, and he always finished with a head massage using one of those vibrating hand things.

That was nice.

That barber shop doesn’t exist anymore. I know this because Google Street View shows “Uptown Costume and Dancewear” in the same location. I guess the Italian died.

In Houston, a middle-aged divorcée who ran a one-woman shop in the basement of an office building on Richmond Avenue cut my hair, but in emergencies I’d use Supercuts.

poleWhen I moved over the Rio Bravo 16 years back I first lived 40 minutes down the mountainside in the state capital. I got my first Mexican haircut near the language school I attended. It was more of a ladies’ place.

But I didn’t care.

I got a haircut yesterday, which is what brought haircuts to mind. In recent years my hair’s been cut in an all-woman collective on Calle La Paz. If you exit and walk uphill about a block, you run into a church. If you walk downhill about two blocks you also run into a church.

Plenty of places to pray in Mexico.

Liliana gives me the best haircuts of my life, and she charges me the peso equivalent of about two bucks, but I tip her an extra quarter because I’m a giving sort of guy.

There’s a barber pole outside the door.

My hair has done an amazing thing. It started completely black, and now it’s totally white. Incredible!

Gray hair is God’s graffiti.

— Bill Cosby.

25 thoughts on “The haircut”

    1. Ms. Shoes: There are many areas in which my Mexican-ness falls far short of the norm. I’ve never for a moment considered dying my hair. My wife, however, dyes hers somewhat and, of course, so do you. Perhaps it’s more of a woman thing.

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  1. Well, I only know one mexicano who dyes his hair although I do run across one or two every now and then. Looks hideous. The women, of course, are another story. I have two sisters-in-law who pay for the Clairol CEO’s vacation every year.

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    1. Andrés: I know some people shell out absurd amounts for haircuts in the U.S., but I wonder what a normal, run-of-the-mill cut costs there these days. I have no idea. Lots more than here, of course.

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        1. Señor Gill: Prices in the United States nowadays surprise me. Of course, folks have to charge a lot because other folks charge them a lot. A vicious circle it is.

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      1. I go to Bob’s Barber Shop. $13, $10 for seniors. Country music in the background, clients discussing either the music (which I hate as much as rap or R&B), or potato farming. He has one chair in his converted front porch, and there is a sink for hair washing, but I don’t think a head has ever been near it. The clientele all think Donald is a gift to humanity. I know when to sit and watch. Could you?

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        1. Kris: So, you’re speaking about Canada? I don’t know where you are when you’re not in Mexico. Maybe you’ve told me, but I’m foggy-headed.

          And you don’t like country music?! Now you’re manifesting some serious personality disorder. I weep for you, figuratively speaking.

          As for talking about The Donald, I would have to set them straight and steer them toward my boy Ted Cruz, an actual conservative. But that wouldn’t be happening in Canada.

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          1. Yes, in Canada. I can listen to one or two country songs, Willie, Charlie Daniels, not the whiny Tammy Wynette stuff. But not a steady diet of it. The new ‘rock sung with a drawl’ stuff escapes me. I’m a 60’s & 70’S guy. I like my R & R.

            You have to keep in mind that Donald followers don’t know anything about politics or government. They just think they deserve more, and think Donald understands them and can get it for them. Sheep.

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  2. When my wife’s family came north during the revolution, they bought some commercial real estate in Arizona. One of the shops was a barber shop run by a Puerto Rican.

    One morning, the barber woke up dead, which something that can only be done in Spanish (se amaneció muerto). Given that the barber had no family or heirs, the ownership of the shop fell to my wife’s grandfather. He then told my wife’s father that he was going to be a barber.

    They rounded us all the stray dogs in the barrio, and he practiced. He took the state test and passed. He was a barber until he died in 1995. The barber shop is a place of social interaction and political orientation.

    Now, it seems as if there are no Mexican barbers, but all the shops seem to be run by people from the former Soviet Union. They all seem to be Jewish; no haircuts on Jewish holidays.

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  3. I’m a trans-haircut guy — sometimes the Redhead brings out the shears, sometimes I spring for a pretty young thing with a perky disposition and a license to trim. The injustice is that I pay the same price for a cut as men with a full mane like you. This is progressive America. I should pay half-price since I have half the hair.

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    1. Ray: That brings an issue to mind. I’ve never run into a perky hair cutter here. Other than adolescent girls, one rarely runs into perky women at all. Mexicans are quite serious, their much-ballyhooed friendliness being primarily a social tool, not heartfelt.

      As for your having to pay the same price as a guy with a full head of hair, well, it’s only fair. Everyone must pay his fair share. Were I balding, I might feel otherwise, of course.

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      1. Oh, they are quite “perky” here. Read my old post “The Haircut” for a description of my experience. They are usually young, as well, and often try to engage me in conversation on pop culture that I know nothing about. It always reminds me of Steely Dan’s song “Hey 19.”

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  4. Recently I decided to grow a beard again, sadly my once roaring red mane has turned white. A petite Mexican lady cuts my hair for $13.75. She grew up outside Mexico City. Her brother who ran the joint recently “met” his onetime girlfriend on Facebook. They used to court with her aunt in tow in those days, and then life got in the way, and they went their separate ways! I don’t know how Guillermo ended up in Canada, but he was found on Facebook by his onetime lady love. She was working in Abu Dhabi, and they continued where they left off all those years ago, and last year they met up went on holiday for six weeks, and got married, and he threw in the towel. I really miss him. He was not a hair today, gone tomorrow kind of guy! He really knew his craft and his haircut would remember its shape for weeks after numerous washings, I may add! Not that I have much left, mind you.

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    1. Colm: That’s one heck of a haircut tale. The question is less how Guillermo ended up in Canada and more how his girlfriend ended up in Abu Dhabi.

      As for deciding to grow a full beard again, and its being white instead of red, I also had a full beard for much of my adult life, not red but black. I looked like a pirate, and I liked that. I would like to grow it back again but, being all white, I would look not like a pirate but like a skinny Santa Claus. So I keep the much reduced version I’ve had for about 20 years now. One must adapt to approaching decrepitude.

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  5. I shave my own noggin except when I’m in Mexico. My barberess is a beautiful young lady. She smiles a lot and gibbers away, and I don’t care if the smile is false or not. She does a great job, and there is something to be said for perkiness in a barbershop, just sayin’.

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    1. Bob: I’ll bet that beautiful young lady’s smile is for real. Don’t underestimate it. It’s even more likely to be real if she’s running off her mouth, a talent so many women of all ages possess.

      Shave your own skull, eh? I’ve always thought that would be something of a challenge, especially out back.

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    1. Señor Davies: This is one example of the advantages of multiculturalism. There aren’t many. Good to know if I ever need a haircut above the border again, which I doubt will happen. Thanks for the good news.

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