Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I got a "Man Rub"

I normally cut my own hair, but the other day I had $5 to spare and happened to be in the PX so I dropped by the barber shop. Only two ahead of me, I decided to let Hadji do it.

As I sit in the chair and get comfortable, my barber tells me "Down a little" in broken English. He reaches around, unzips my top, slides it down off my shoulders and wraps the white strap around my neck. If I had a bow-tie I'd look like a Chip and Dale's dancer!

He snaps the apron and swirls it in the air. As it gently drifts around me, he fastens the tie around my neck. He reaches for the shears, asks me how I want it and I answer in broken English instinctively, like that will matter as to how my hair will look when he is done; "skin, side, top, short." He nods and smiles and I get the feeling he has a generic cut in mind anyway.

The clippers buzz to life and my scalp vibrates as my hair falls to the floor. He and his co-worker talk and laugh in a language I don't understand. My eyes constantly scan the room beside me and through the mirror I watch behind me. Though I probably have nothing to worry about at the barber shop here at Adder, I am instinctively aware.

One thing I have noticed about these people is that many of them take pride in their work. The barber has finished with the clippers and is whittling away at my remaining hair with his comb and scissors. I watch him in the mirror. Again, more instinct than fear, but Hadji with sharp scissors close to my neck makes me nervous and reminds me why I cut my own hair. My hand has a firm grip on my push-dagger and I sometimes laugh at myself at how paranoid I am, but I can't help it.

I realize I am getting older as he takes the comb and scissors and trims my eye brows for me. I seem to always have a couple crazy hairs here and there. He leans in close as he grooms me and the stench is tart. Not overpowering, but it is customary to not shower often and it is noticeable.

After he is finished cutting, he douses his hands with rubbing alcohol and rubs my freshly pruned scalp. It is a cool, refreshing burn and feels good as he massages it in with his fingers. He then slaps, rubs and finger claps my head and it is strange, but nice. He works to my neck and my shoulders, and then presses his fingers hard as he goes up and down my spine, back to the shoulders and around to my chest. It is aggressive, relaxing and I am uncomfortable it is a dude, because it feels nice.

A couple more slaps on the back and the apron is yanked off. I let go of my knife and zip my top as I stand up. I tell him thanks and he smiles and nods his head. I hand him a couple bucks and smiles again and thanks me. I pay the $3 for my haircut and leave.

Five dollars and ten minutes is all it costs for a fresh look and slight confirmation of my manhood.