A new barber’s shop, all male, cutting and shaving, a sea change from the usual unisex, all women, we do it all for you, either of you, your choice. A Muhammad Ali barber shop: ‘we are the greatest’.
“Do I need an appointment?” I ask.
“Sure do,” the boy behind the counter replies. “We’re the hottest thing in town. Let’s see: I can fit you in tomorrow,” he checks the computer screen, scrolls up and down. ”2:35.”
“Nothing else?” I ask.
“Three vacancies next week … let me see …”
“Book me in,” I said.
“Good choice, my man, good choice,” he held out his hand and I shook it.
So here I am, balancing on my cane, hoping I can make it from welcome desk to chair. They greet me warmly. Tell me my guy’s waiting. It won’t be a moment. Here he is. He announces my name with a query in his voice. I nod my head in agreement and mouth his name.
Houston Control: we have lift off.
He accompanies me to my chair. Helps me settle in.
“What can I do for you?”
“Cut my hair?”
He examines me carefully, checks me out in the mirror, runs his hand over my head.
“Would you like to do a Number Two?”
Where I come from, a Number One is a golden shower, a pee-pee, and a Number Two is …
“Not in this chair,” I say.
“A number Two? I don’t know what you are talking about.”
He points to the chart on the wall where nine different men are posing in black and white photographs with nine different haircuts.
“Oh,” I stammer. “Do you think that would suit me?”
“It’s your choice, my friend.”
“Go for it,” I say, my heart filled with misgivings.