Monday, May 16, 2016

Haircuts by the Book – Erich

In November, I blogged about the mundane details of getting a haircut in South Africa. I commented on how in many ways it was much the same as getting one's hair done in the States.

Apparently, that was the last time I got a haircut. Now it's May, and I was looking... shall we sugarcoat it and say shaggy? Alrica would certainly say so, if she wouldn't say worse.

So I went out to a barber shop in our neighborhood in Istanbul and got my hair cut. Unlike in South Africa, this was quite different than the haircuts at home. I usually get the back and sides done with the number three clippers, clippers being a sort of electric razor. Now, I do know the Turkish word for three, it's üç (pronounced ooch where the oo is like in book). But that didn't matter. Because there were no clippers, no electric devices used. This was good old fashioned scissors and a straight razor!

My barber, whose name I do not know, again, unlike South Africa, used a straight razor for my side burns, where my hair line meets my neck, and other places where you transition from hair to skin.

First I had to lean forward with my head in a sink to get a wash. That happened again at the end of the haircut.

My barber did not speak English, and I speak little Turkish. But the good news is he had a book full of pictures of men who have just had their haircut. Most of the styles in the book were far too cool for my tastes, or they were the sort that my father would have said when I was a lad, “If you only get half a haircut, I'm only paying for half of it!” No worries there, Dad. My feeling is when I get my hair cut I want it cut short so I don't have to go back and have it done again any time soon.

I found two pictures of styles that would work for me and my barber said, “Okay!” That was as much English as I ever heard from him. But I got to hear him.

You see, this was a men's barbershop. And like in the Andy Griffith show, the men's barbershop is also a collection point for men to chat and hang, whether or not they are getting a trim. There was a TV playing football (by which I mean, of course, soccer). And there were several men in the chairs just chatting and laughing. My barber was having a great time, laughing heartily often. I don't know what was funny (I assume it wasn't me) but it was quite funny.

It was fun to be in a place like that. I didn't know what was being said, but I could feel the camaraderie of the men. At home, I never see a lot of people at the barber's unless they are barbers or clients.

After he was done and I got another wash, he took out a bottle of cologne and sprayed the front color of my shirt. He put on so much I could feel the dampness through the fabric. Then he took two tissues and used them to clean out (or dry) the inside of my ears.

So now I look good, I smell good (or my shirt does), and I hear good. The haircut with tip cost me 30 Turkish Lira, which is about $10. A great price for a cooler collar.

All that's left is to ponder the question: Can I go another six months without a haircut? (I imagine Alrica is hoping the answer is no.)

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