Friday, November 2, 2012

Blissful reminiscences...

One by one, I am hearing from my old friends and acquaintances in the Bronx that they are, thankfully, getting back power in course of the slow recovery from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In that part of the Bronx, in a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood through which runs the Morris Park Avenue, my wife and I have spent 6+ years. Like everything else in life, they had their zeniths and nadirs, but - as we all know too well - nostalgia tends to focus on the good parts. Today as I reminisce, I am flown away to a Saturday five and a half years ago, January 20, 2007.

(Sharing/reposting a post written on that date, in another now-almost-defunct blog, under a different nom de blog.)
I had a wonderful experience today. You can say almost 'divine', if you are into that sort of thing. It was not a unique event though; it happens to me every so often. We live in troublesome times, and once in a while I feel my head heavy and bowed down with weariness from all the troubles in the world. It seems to put a terrible weight on my shoulders... I mean, having to carry my thick head (yeah, snicker away!!) all the time is burden enough for my poor shoulders, but all that extra weight - it is a real pain in the neck!

Anyway, as I was saying, my head starts feeling heavy and burdensome, and then I know it is time for a... haircut. Yeah, I know, I know, it is just a haircut, but to me - it brings in a sigh of relief.

Some of you have been fortunate enough - Ahem! - to see me after a haircut; most of you haven't. I like it in a special way, which is why I can't go to just any barbershop or salon and hand my head to them. I go to special people, like my barber, Sal, a thin, old gentleman with almost no hair on his tome, whom I have never seen without his trademark white short-sleeved shirt, brown vest, brown trousers and brown tie... kind of makes him look like a Greyhound driver. He is an artist, a wizard with a set of clippers and trimmers, a few pairs of scissors and combs. He does his job to my utmost satisfaction.

You may not think there is a lot to this job, though. I mean, my style - if you can call it that - is simple enough. Very small on the sides of my head and at the back, less small on the top, so that I can still occasionally run a comb or my fingers through my hair. It is quite therapeutic, you should try it sometimes. You know, you bend your fingers and tug gently at the root of the hairs on the scalp, and it is so relaxing. But it has to be small on the sides and the back. You should not be able to pull your hair easily in those areas, and you have to show some scalp... Yeah, show some scalp, baby! You know, like a finely-mown lawn. If you just pass your palm or fingertip barely touching the shortened hair shaft, it leaves a tingling sensation. Oooh!

I love that haircut. My wife hates it. She says it makes my face look rounder, like a ball. Actually, my head is like a ball, you know, filled with all that air... one reason I can probably never drown - not that I am going to try, though; my head and my soda-gut (since I don't drink beer) - also full of air - should independently bob up and down on water, keeping me afloat. Anyway, I put down my wife's ire to a secret angst at her inability to shake me by the hair when she is frustrated with me enough to try it.

How did I get to like this haircut so much? It was not in fashion, not popular when I was growing up. In fact, quite the contrary. My peers used to love a near-shoulder long hair, with a middle parting and moderate to long sideburns - then commonly seen amongst our more popular male film-stars. So how did I become this anachronism? Like any good son, I put the blame squarely on my mother. She is the one who always insisted that I wear my hair short; she took me to the barber for my first conscious haircut, and the instructions were to snip it all off, so that I look like I had shaved my head about two weeks back and the hair somewhat grew back.

There was another more secret reason for acquiescing to the outrageous whims of the mater. Long hair, it appeared to me, begged to be pulled, particularly by some bullies at school, which was not - I tell you - a very pleasant experience for those unfortunate ones who faced it. Short hair kept me out of trouble, and I was happy with it.

After Sal was done with me today, it was pure, undiluted bliss... My head felt so light like never before - which is strange considering that my last haircut was only about a couple of months back. But who's counting! I am just glad to have all that weight off my shoulder.

Sal the barber's shop on Morris Pk Williamsbridge crossing
Gloriously, Sal the barber's shop at the crossing of Morris Park Ave. & Williamsbridge Rd.

Time for me to hit the shower. See ya later, dudes and dudettes. Ciao!

To be honest, my Haircuttery Outlet in Baltimore does a pretty good job, too. I have even learnt to instruct the hairdresser of the day, "Number 2 on the sides; comb and scissors on top!" This cryptic incantation provides a fairly standardized result, no matter who does it. But a part of me still secretly yearns for Sal the barber, je ne sais pourquoi.


  1. heh - you sound almost exactly like my husband. The difference lies in the fact that he doesn't take as much pleasure as you in running his fingers through his hair, tugging on it. Although I do get where you are coming from. :) Ny husband, will drag himself to go get a haircut once every 3 months(if I'm lucky, he also shaves once every 10 days). Then he decided that we ought to do this at home since its ridiculous to pay 20 something bucks on a haircut which should should be easy for me to do on his head. Needless to say it was not easy, and I'm terrified Of the day when I will have to do it again. I need to watch me some youtube videos/or find me a Sal in Boston.

    1. Sounds like when I get to meet him, we will get along like a house on fire, because of shared sorrows and all that... Heh-heh! :D I am too lazy to shave every day, much to my wife's consternation. But I draw the line at haircut. I want professional help.

  2. Haha. I have taken on the role of haircuttery recently. Shearing is more like it since husband cant think with too much (an inch at most) of hair. So every so often, newspaper on bathroom floor, his head is shorn evenly with a nice machine, 3/8th inch blade on.

  3. I had had a go at a self-done haircut. Which was when I had to purchase my first hat.

    1. You are aware of Jackson Heights in Queens, a part of New York city with a vibrant diverse ethnic mêlée. In a part of Jackson Heights catering to an Asian (especially East Asian and Southeast Asian) and African clientele, there was a barber shop with a prominently placed sign outside: "We Repair Home-made Haircuts". I kid you not.