Sunday No. 9
Sunday March 7, 2015
As I sit here looking at my tree outside the window, I notice that the seasons play havoc with its leaves, and therefore so does nature with my beard. I never liked to shave, due that I find the daily procedures boring. I have a thick beard, and if I wanted to be totally clean-shaven, I need to do it every morning. Sometime ago, I decided to only shave once a week. Only on Sundays, I would shave. But the weekly process of trimming the beard and then getting a razor was like being in school. I don't like to be told what to do -either by teacher or nature. It wasn't that long ago that I started to see a barber for a hair trim and shave every Sunday. A shave and trim costs $60, while just getting a full-shave is $35. I have this thing where I detest odd numbers coming up on my bill. So just to avoid that, I always throw in a trim as well to make the total into an even 60.
I like to think my haircut is as precise as my personal life. Neatness is a sign of a civilized man, and to this day, I'm bothered to see if some male is either wearing his hairstyle wrong, or the clothing is off. Socks to me is the real test. They should match with something that you are wearing. Shirt or even, a hat is good if it's the same color or pattern as your socks. It's a little gesture, but the actions will take you far. Also it serves as a mental exercise as well. To locate the right pair of socks with the correct shirt can be a treasure hunt, but if you're good at it, the awards are plenty. I have noticed that most women are aware of the sock and shirt combination. The best or as I call it, my masterpiece is the argyle sock that matches the sleeveless argyle v-neck sweater. Powered blue button down shirt, either opened at the neck or buttoned up - your choice. But the color combination is a real winner.
Every Sunday I do my best to dress as the best I can before I see my barber in Echo Park. He knows me well enough (not my life, but what I prefer in a haircut and shave). I remember the first time I saw him, and it was a joyful experience. I got into his barber chair not knowing what to say exactly. I always felt it was beneath me to show an image of the haircut I wanted. To articulate your desires verbally to your barber is the best form of communication. I told him that I wanted a haircut that was short as possible on the sides, and a tad long on the top. He asked me if I wanted a "1" or a "2" for the sides I told him that I didn't know the difference. He cut my hair to a "2" on the side, and then showed it to me. It was long. I told him a "1." He then suggested a 1 and then a "2" and will cut half-an-inch on the top. That sounded perfect and that is exactly what he did.
The best part of the haircut is when he focused on the hairline above the ears. I was obsessed that he cut it in a way where the skin was shown, and that the whole area had to be 'clean' with no hair whatsoever going over the ears. He also spent time tracking down all the hair on my ears as well. One of the things I hate the most is finding hair in or on my ears. I hate to see it when I'm talking to a male person, and the first thing I notice is the hair either on the ear, or worse coming out of a nose nostril. I do have poor eyesight, but still, the details are extremely important. At home, I have a check list of things that must be looked at on a regular basis - which includes hair on the ears, coming out of the nose, and hair on the nose. And eyebrows must be trimmed at all times. Bushy eyebrows cannot be helped, but surely one can keep them trimmed and for God's sake don't allow hair between the two eyebrows. One doesn't need a bridge between the left and right eyebrow.
The beauty of having a shave is being in someone's power. As soon as the shave starts, my eyes are closed shut. To this day, I have never seen a straight razor blade approaching my face. The first thing he did was put a lotion on my face, and then a hot towel covering everything except my nose. Once removed he forces my head to one side and starts to work on the neck and on up. I can actually feel every hair being cut on my neck. Not exactly painful, but there is the feeling of something being cut off your neck and face. The slight pain is part of the procedure, because every time you feel the tinge of pain or discomfort, you get an award of a soothing cream or hot towel or both. When I shave I always shave upwards, but not once does he do that. It is all downstrokes, and the whole procedure takes at least a half-n'-hour. It never fails, that I think of Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street while feeling the blade against my throat. Somewhere in that procedure he put on something that stung me slightly, but the smell was Royall lime. I remember the scent of the after-shave, because my Dad wore it all the time. There was one time he picked me up from the ground to kiss me, I must have been three or year years old, but I clearly remember the smoothness of his face right after he shaved as well as the royal lime scent.
As I was sitting in the barber chair, I was suddenly in another place, location and time. The music being played over the barbershop sound system was Charlie Parker, when he was making recordings for Dial records in Glendale, California. A sound that was very much part of my childhood at the family home. So the combination of the scent, the hot towel and the memory of the smooth skin of my dad brought me into another dimension.
The images that were in my brain eventually became a black and white 8mm film, and once the towel was removed, and I opened my eyes, the world was in Technicolor. The first time, the first trip is always the best, and after that, you're just trying to capture that lost moment. Although my face is right, the hair perfect, and the shave as smooth as that girl's ass - I'm feeling out of time. Like a stray dog knowing where his food is, I go back to the barber shop every Sunday to get my emotional fix for the rest of the week.