Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wife Died, Closing at Noon

Walked into town yesterday to find the cheapest haircut around. This old man has been cutting hair in the Old Port for something like 50 years as the article read in the Portland Press Herald. He specializes in haircuts for seniors, but I assume he'll do anybody's hair who would trust him. His price is $8 for seniors and $10 for everybody else. I assumed I would get a standard "senior cut" even if I was paying the non-senior price.

I arrived around 9 AM to find only one white-haired gentleman in the chair, so I would be next. His haircut was really short and I wondered if this was the "standard".

The shop looked like the ones my dad took me to when I was 8. The barber wore a pure white smock and thin beige slacks. The tiny TV on a high shelf droned a low-key morning talk show that nobody listened to or watched. Newspaper clippings taped to the full-wall mirror spoke of local interest. The one I could see most clearly was the article about his shop and a picture of the inside of the shop. There was a porcelain comb-tub with sanitizing solution sitting on the long self that read "Sani-Aid". He used a freshly ironed neck towel, fastened it with a real safety pin and placed a cloth drape over my shoulders; a real contrast to the usual white tissue paper wrapped around your neck held in place by a plastic drop cloth. Afterword he opened a large hopper in the cabinet and threw my used towel in with the others used that day.
As I was waiting, the phone rang and the barber told the caller he was closing at noon. It was a long conversation and it ended by his declaring, "If you aren't here by noon, I'll be gone". After hanging up, the barber said to nobody in particular, "she sure can talk" and "It's not necessary to talk so long for such a simple question".

The patron in the chair, having listened to his phone conversation, asked if he was going somewhere and he replied in a rather matter-of-fact tone "My wife died and they're having a wake or something".

Other than asking if I wanted a "trim", my haircut was a silent affair and turned out really well.

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