Friday, August 01, 2003

Time Warp

The barbershop has an old-fashioned pole outside, with the spirals of color spinning upward from nowhere to nowhere. The spirals were once blue and red, although the sun has baked the red into the crayon color that used to be "flesh" until a wiser Crayola dubbed it "peach".

Inside the shop, run by a pair of fortyish brothers with hoarse, chain-smoking voices, hang movie posters from an era before theirs: Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, John Ford. A crew-cut George Washington looks out from a giant dollar bill with the inscription "Keep America Clean... Get A Haircut".

I'm the youngest customer there by far, waiting for my elementary 'one inch on top, one-fourth on the sides and back' cut. The barber thanks me for coming in the morning, right after my hair got washed. I get up, thinking he's finished after cutting, buzzing and trimming, but there's still a shave left in the deal. He takes out an old-fashined straightedge razor [a 'cut-throat britva', as Anthony Burgess might say] and shaves the back of my neck.

I tip him [you are supposed to tip barbers, right?] and step back into the 21st century, the garbage truck blocking my way past an alley bordering the new Subway, cars parked one bumper to another up the street. Maybe the 20th had something going for it.

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