Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Godfather he is not.

The entrance to the barbershop was framed by two plaster columns that gave the appearance of having been taken from some ancient roman structure, and then painted a light purple. But as I walked inside I was greeted with a much more modest, some would say dingy, shop. My barber was an older Filipino named Yacob who wore a large, jeweled pinky ring and a thin pair of glasses pushed to the very end of his nose. Without much prelude he sat me down and got to work.

My haircut was only interrupted once when Yacob's phone rang. For unknown reasons, his ringtone was not a ring at all but a woman's voice repeating over and over again, “Will the driver of the black BMW please move your vehicle from the loading zone.” He answered with a quick burst of Tagalog, listened for a moment and then hung up the phone with a short laugh. “He owes me money,” was the only explanation before he got back to the business of cutting my hair.

At the end of the haircut Yacob took out a straight razor to clean up my hairline along my neck. He put a fresh blade in, doused it with cologne and then lit the blade on fire with a match that he pulled from his shirt pocket. He waved the flame out and set to work on my neck. I choose to assume that this was done with hygiene in mind.

After the haircut was complete Yacob massaged my neck and back for about 30 seconds and then declared that he was done with me. I thanked him for his good work and was on my way back out through the columns and into the midday heat.

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