Wednesday, November 09, 2005



Oscar Madison's new haircut, as reflected in airport window. Tarmac lights in background.

I got the haircut this morning.

I went to the barber shop at my appointed time and caught the barber, Tom, at the tail end of a conversation with the outgoing customer, Mike, about outrageous costumes Tom saw this last Halloween.

“... so one guy had a fake penis down to here,” gesturing to his upper shins, “and he wore a big raincoat, which of course, he kept opening, to flash the penis.”

Well, that didn’t take long. After years of going to hair salons, I finally venture back into a barber shop, and sure enough, the discussion turns to penises.

“...And his partner had a fake, bare butt. It was a large, sculpted plastic butt, obviously not a real one, attached to his .. to his butt. And the guy with the penis kept chasing him around.”

Tom and Mike both thought this was very, very funny. They chortled. Mike made a lnegthy rejoinder about Halloween. The conversation went on and on. I looked at my watch.

So here’s an interesting twist on the sociology of the barber shop. Is it maybe a prison/locker room kind of thing? In all my years of having my hair cut at hair salons staffed by lots of gay guys, I never heard a single reference of any kind to male-male anal sex. Not once! But set one foot into a barber shop, and whammo...

I tend to prefer not talking while getting my hair cut, but Tom was a friendly sort who wanted to converse. After talking about the weather, I learned that Tom has owned this shop for thirty years. The two empty chairs suggested that he had colleagues or employees back in the day. He had cancer, and the chemotherapy had been hard on him, so since his return to the shop he’s been working only until mid-afternoon. His landlord – the owner of the bar next door – has been threatening to raise the rent, so Tom may move his business.

I’m guessing Tom is in his early sixties, so he doesn’t cut hair as fast as I had hoped. This meant that there was more conversation needed. He had an old color TV going, with The Price is Right, and I was astonished that the familiar emcee voice belonged to none other than Bob Barker.

I thought it would be impolite to say to a sixty-something cancer survivor what popped into my head – “Gee, Bob Barker was old when I was a kid! I can’t believe Bob Barker isn’t dead yet!”

Instead, I looked down into my begowned lap, now filled with big clumps of my brownish hair, which I can't help noticing contains a disturbing amount of silvery streaks.

“Wow, Bob Barker and I both have a lot more gray hair than when I saw him last,” I said.

“Well, you know, he used to color his hair," Tom explains. "But then he says he read a medical study showing a link between the hair dye used in Grecian formula and cancer. So he just decided to go natural, and his hair’s all white now.”

You go, Bob. And you too, Tom. The haircut ($20 with the tip, which seemed to please and surprise Tom) wasn’t half bad. It was certainly no worse than any salon cut I’ve ever gotten. So I may be seeing Tom again.

Oh! You're Oscar? Who would have guessed!
When I got my hair cut, excuse me, styled at a fancy salon off the square, I had a gay stylist who would often regale me with stories of his gay and straight sexual experiences. I can only imagine what the money-ed old ladies in the surrounding chairs were thinking.
didn't they debunk the cancer/hair dye link?

didn't mom actually get that cancer (the blood one)? After dyeing her hair for 45 years or so?

Don't they tell us that cell phones don't cause cancer, too?
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