Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Haircut

     "I'm starting to get shaggy," my dad announced.

     My ears perked up. "Are you going to get your hair cut in Banks?" I asked. I was more than just a little curious. Haircut days were special, and I loved to be a part of them.

     "Nah. I was thinking of getting your momma to do it." My dad had the mischievous look he got when he was messing with me. I pouted for effect. "Oh, alright. I think I'll go to Banks, but you can't go with me this time." I pouted more severely, letting my chin quiver and my eyes go big. "Oh, dammit. You can go."

     I jumped around and danced. Haircuts meant listening to guy gossip, the clean smell of shaving cream, the sound of clippers and a straight razor sharpened on leather, and candy. Lots of candy. I changed out of my play clothes and hopped in my dad's truck.

     The barber shop in Banks was a little room built about five feet from the barber's house. It was a small operation: one barber, one chair, a small waiting area with three seats and a large mirror. I liked to turn around in my seat and watch the action while looking at myself in the mirror. I never had to take anything to entertain myself with because the experience was always enough.

     I liked the barber shop better than the hair salon. It was quieter without all the hairdryers going at once. It smelled cleaner, too. Hair salons always smelled like hair dye and perms. The shop smelled like blue fluid in glass jars, shaving cream, and aftershave. I also liked the barber better.

     He was an older gentleman with gray hair. He always looked and smelled really clean, and I liked that because it reminded me of my Paw-Paw. He liked to talk and laugh, and I liked to listen to him. He would get my dad in his chair, put a collar and a cape on him, foot pump the chair up into position, and he was off.

     "How have things been?"

     "Pretty good. I went out fishing yesterday out at Lake Eufaula. I caught eleven bass, six crappie, and nine catfish. It wasn't too bad. How about you?"

    "You know, the usual. I did hear a funny song the other day. Have you heard of Ray Stevens?"

    "I have. I think he's funny," I interjected.

     "You don't know who Ray Stevens is," my dad teased me.

     "I do, too. Kay-Kay let me listen to him. He sings 'Mississippi Squirrel Revival' and 'It's Me Again, Margaret.' He's really funny."

     "He is," the barber agreed. "Have you heard his new one: 'The Haircut Song'?"

     Neither my dad nor I had heard it.

     "I really like that one. You see, ole Ray is going around the country, playing his songs, and he ends up having to get his hair cut before he can get back home. The first place he stops is a macho barber shop. This big ape comes out wearing a T-shirt saying 'I hate musicians,' so ole Ray, being a musician lies and tells this guy he's a logger. Guy cuts his hair, and shaves him bald.

     "Then ole Ray ends up in a punk rock barber shop. This guy has orange hair and tells him he's gay. Well that make old Ray nervous, so he tells this guy he's a logger, too. Guy gives him a purple Mohawk.

    "Just when you think it can't get worse, ole Ray ends up down South. He steps into a barber shop that's also a church, and the barber is part Baptist and part Catholic, and all preacher. He's preaching about the sins that surround the music industry, so ole Ray tells him that he runs a church for loggers. I thing his haircut turned out better. He didn't say it was bad, and it was done in the South by a Southern barber, so other than the preaching, it was probably the best haircut he'd had since leaving home."

     "I bet that's right," my dad chimed in.

     The barber put heated towels on my dad's face. It was time for my favorite part. He applied lather with a  bristle brush and reclined the seat. Then he got out the straight razor and began sharpening it on the leather belt hanging off the chair. Shick, shick, shick. He deftly shaved my dad, then applied a splash of aftershave, removed the cape and collar, and brushed bits of hair away with what I liked to think of as a tiny broom. "All done."

     My dad paid the barber, then offered to let him cut my hair in the same style. "No!" I screamed and ran out the door to jump in the truck. My dad got into the driver's seat laughing, "You sure you don't want your hair cut?" I stuck out my tongue.

     We drove up the road to the Bank's Buy-Rite, and I launched myself out of the truck, anticipating the junk food feast that awaited me. I grabbed peanut butter cheese crackers, chocolate mint patties, chocolate peanut butter cups, flavored granulated sugar sticks, caramels, orange fluff in the vague shape of peanuts, tart candies in round tubes, candy-coated tart candies in silvery round tubes, smaller tart candies in cellophane tubes, candy sticks with granulated sugar powder in three addictive flavor pouches, chocolate milk and a grape soda.

     "I don't think you got enough there," my dad snarked.

     "You're right." I placed my haul on the counter and headed back to the candy aisle. I added cinnamon hot candies, pieces of peanut butter in a hard candy shell, some small, colorful jaw breakers, a pouch of shredded grape bubble gum meant to look like chewing tobacco, and small chocolate candies coated in a shell not meant to melt in your hands but instead in your mouth. My dad placed a cherry soda, pack of crackers, box of caramel coated popcorn, chocolate mint patty, and chocolate-covered peanut candies coated in a colorful shell on the counter with my treasures.

     On our way home, we ate crackers, drank our sodas and listened to country music.

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