Barber shop quartet

posted in: Life in Lesvos | 0

I needed a haircut, so took myself to Vintage Cuts, a modern salon right next to the Mousiko café.  I had spotted another barbers’ in town, but it was small, dark and unprepossessing, tucked away down a side street, and I wasn’t sure I could even find it again.  Vintage Cuts, in comparison, was bright, modern, airy and stylish.  When I arrived, the barber was at work on another customer, so I waited and watched.

He was obviously both skilled and meticulous, taking great care and plenty of time to create a look that was too extreme for my taste, shaven at the sides and back, and a diminishing top-knot.  Meanwhile, a slim and very pretty young woman was working on another customer, a huge, overly muscled guy covered in tattoos.  She had put a rubber cap like a swimming cap on his head, and was teasing tufts of his hair through holes in it with something like a crochet hook.  He looked ridiculous, but I daren’t show my amusement.  Besides, I was getting rather nervous at what I had let myself in for. 

A motorbike roared up to immediately outside the shop, and another man came in; evidently another barber, for he was a slightly taller version of his colleague – same cut-off jeans and t-shirt, same stylish hair and beard.  Once he had deposited his helmet, washed his hands, and checked I was there for a haircut, he indicated that I should sit in a low chair next to a sink.  “Oh no,” I replied, “I’m not here to have my hair washed, just a haircut.”  “It is the system,” he replied, but by now I was in total panic, stammered my apologies, and fled.  I felt a complete fool, realised how ridiculous I must have appeared, even thought of seeking out the other barbers’. But once I had calmed myself, I resolved to return the next morning – I still needed a haircut.

The next day I tried to explain that at home, I went in, sat down, had my hair cut, paid, and left – five minutes.  They were all charming, and if they thought me a silly old fool (and they must) they didn’t show it.  I had my hair washed – “is better for me” he explained – by the young woman, which was extraordinarily pleasant, and once it had been dried, I was in the chair.  “A grade 4 all over,” I said.  He understood, but looked doubtful.  “I think, on top, yes, but here, and here…”  I decided to go with it; in for a cent, in for a euro.  “You’re the professional.”

And professional he undoubtedly was: careful, thorough, meticulous. He told me I was shaving my sideboards too short, snipped and clipped with dexterity.  Eventually I was ushered back to the sink, where the girl washed my hair – again! – and then he applied various gels and powders.  It was quite an experience, and cost me eight euros.

But when I left, I realised that though I had enjoyed the experience, I didn’t appreciate the result.  My hair was hard and stiff, my neck exposed.  It occurred to me that I had been given the haircut of my childhood, fifty years before: a short back and sides.  My dad would have approved…  but I am not my dad.

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