Thursday, February 28, 2013

Barbering & Surgery

From the Wiki:
The origin of the red and white barber pole is associated with the service of bloodletting and was historically a representation of bloody bandages wrapped around a pole. During medieval times, barbers performed surgery on customers, as well as tooth extractions. The original pole had a brass wash basin at the top (representing the vessel in which leeches were kept) and bottom (representing the basin that received the blood). The pole itself represents the staff that the patient gripped during the procedure to encourage blood flow.
I've got this unlimited-monthly Metrocard I've been burning off since I bought it to get me through the tail-end of this last gig. Something liberating about having an unlimited Metrocard. You don't think twice about hopping on a train. In fact, you look for excuses to hop on a train, to maximize the value.

So, not feeling particularly creative, I've used it to travel to other parts of the city and use different New York Sports Club facilities. Last week, I traveled to the Upper West Side to work out at the NYSC that I used to work out at when I lived up there. (Not so great.) And there are two locations in the Village that I've been hitting.

On my last visit down there, on Tuesday, I walked around a bit afterwards and decided to get a haircut at a barber in the area. $2 cheaper than my regular place in midtown! Hey, why not...?

Now, understand that I... don't really enjoy the process of getting my haircut. I don't enjoy sitting in a chair and staring myself in the mirror for half an hour or more, with some stranger getting way too close to me and prodding my skull this way and that. And no, I don't like making small talk on top of all that.

Usually, a barber will get the drift that you don't want to talk. A question here, a question there, they pick up the social cues (curt responses) and FUCKING DROP IT. If they need to talk, they can talk to the other barbers.

But for whatever reason, this barber KEPT... TRYING... TO... SMALL-TALK...

"How you doing? How you been...?"

"You live around here, work around here...?"

"What do you do...?"

"Where do you live...?"

"You like boxing...?"

"How's the weather out there...?"

I wanted to murder him. Guy getting his haircut next to me gets to NOT have a conversation with HIS barber. What's with the Spanish Inquisition? My barber is a younger man with two older barbers with him; they seem to be of Russian descent, perhaps. Maybe he's just new to this scene.

But could it get more awkward? Sure, why not?

I thank him, get my coat to leave, and take out some bills to pay for his service. As I walk toward him, one of the older barbers intercepts me (in this very small space), places out his hand and says, "$12". I give him the bills, call out "Thanks, man" to my guy, and step out the door.

A beat later, my barber's flinging the door open, "Hey, sir, you forget to pay--"

"I gave it to the other guy," I say.

The two older barbers look dumbly at each other and don't offer any confirmation to the younger man.

"Which one you give it to?" he says, desperately.

I point to the guy right beyond the door, who I gave money to just A FEW SECONDS EARLIER.

The younger barber doesn't apologize or offer any other clarification of this tense, peculiarly awkward barbershop setting. He just closes the glass door and retreats.

And... another barbershop I'll never go to again.

Of course, I could have checked YELP beforehand. Five Stars Barber Shop gets this 2-Star Review from 7/21/11:
They give a good haircut here and it's cheap. Plus every fifth haircut is free. BUT...
Avoid the guy in the middle chair. The two older men on either side of him are good, but the guy in the middle will make every attempt to talk with you PLUS his English is terrible. So even if you do engage in conversation it's all for nought. He doesn't pay attention when he cuts hair, too, and just has no social skills. They usually have terrible movies running on their flat-screen TVs but the barber in the middle sometimes sneaks peeks at them when he should be looking at your hair. One time he was cutting my hair AND checking for email on his cell at the same time.
Other than him, though, this place is damn good.


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