Friday, June 22, 2007

Friend OK, The Culture Divide

For those of you concerned about my friend, he's fine. For now. He's deathly afraid of another relapse, not that I blame him. Currently, however, he's fine, and has even resumed berating me for not inviting him over to drink my beer.

My haircut the other day differed greatly from any of my past haircuts. Since I chose that day to work from home I decided to check out the place near my house advertised as "Barbershop and Auto Detailing". You read that correctly, yes. In fact, a few weeks ago while waiting for them to complete the detail on our car they showed me around the place. It's quite nice. It's an old brick warehouse with a refurbished balcony. Downstairs is the detail shop and a plush "business center" with dark walls, dark wood furniture, and several computers with flat screen LCDs. The barber chairs are upstairs, with a bar area (they don't serve but you can rent it for a party, which I guess they do frequently), flat screen TVs, the whole works. Definitely not a "salon" but a "barbershop". And, yes, just like the movie of the same name, I was the only white guy in there.

This time, I walked in and asked if the barbershop was open. The first thing asked of me by the large black man standing by the door was, "You like it close and tight, right?". Only after answering "yes" did he tell me they were open and show me upstairs. Turns out Mr. Close and Tight would be my barber. He sat me in the chair and offered his hand, "My name's Aubrey". Taking his hand I introduced myself, and the unspoken culture divide presented itself. As he was standing on my left, I had to twist in the chair and reach across my body to shake his hand. Thinking the common introductory ritual completed I began returning to a normal seated position. Only at this time did I notice the quick movement of his hand turning into a fist. He was going for the post-shake fist bump! Being too far back into the chair already it was far too late for me to lurch forward and bump fists. Realizing the bump was not immediately forthcoming, he withdrew his fist with a slightly awkward smile. Only one option remained for the two of us: proceed as if the fist had never been offered.

How was I to know the bump follows the shake? Alas. The moment, it had passed, never to be recovered.

The cut went well, although it's much shorter than usual. After asking him to leave an inch on the top, the clippers came out, and not 5 seconds later he had run them all over my head. Zip zoom zip zip! Hair = short. In record time. The sides, though, that's where the artistry lie. He spend 18 of the 20 minutes 1. meticulously fading the shorter sides and back into the longer top and 2. shaping my sideburns and hairline. I swear at one point I could hear each individual hair being cut, so fastidious was he.

All in all, I look good, the cut was cheap and fast, and most important of all, the wife likes it.

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