Tuesday, 30 January 2007


The Italian barber motioned me that it was my turn. I was disappointed as I was getting to the juicy parts of the article entitled 'how to test if your girlfriend is a lesbian' on this month’s FHM issue. I swore to myself to stop reading such trashy material, but it was the reading material in the waiting section and I needed to pass time.

The short Italian barber looked to be near his sixties. His almost-maroon skin looking especially dark with his pale yellow shirt, bright red tie and cream pants. His face a cross between Mario and a prune.. minus the hair on top. It’s kinda funny asking someone who's losing hair to cut your own. Kinda like asking Ugly Betty for fashion tips.

Now I used to think talking to barbers was the right thing to do. With both of you sharing each other's personal space, it's only right to try and socialise and ease such foreign tension. But I’ve decided not to talk to pruny Uncle Mario today. I'd rather him concentrate on my hair than him stressing his very Italian vocabulary in answering my silly question of ‘how often do people ask for their nose hair to be trimmed?’

I took my glasses off and stared at my blurry reflection. Dam I look good when I can't see my reflection properly.

I sat there watching blurry Uncle Mario trim my blurry hair. The foggy peripheral of my thoughts fading into memories of when my dad used to take me to the barber.

If I had to recall happy memories with my dad, it would include the times he brought me and my brothers to the barbershop.

The barbershop in Malabon Philippines was located four houses left of my grandma's place which we visited almost every day (my grandma, not the barbershop). The barbershop is a small square shop with a smooth cement floor and four hair cutting chairs. The back side of the store led to someones house and smelled of cooking, the opposite a metal folding gate, entrance to the lime green barber shop. The mirrors on opposite end of the walls made the illusion of an infinite abyss which never failed to dazzle our young minds.

The barbers gave great hair cuts at very cheap prices. It’s no wonder all the blokes around the place had clean, well trimmed crops. The barbers were a trio, with Mang Nestor (Mr Nestor) my late grandpa’s friend, leading the other old timers. They're just your stereotypical old guys who talked of politics and boxing and smelled of baby powder, pomade and four day old body odour.

What made the barber trips particularly interesting were the posters of near naked women covering most of the lime green walls. The pics were of young models, similar to the viva hot , babes only of the eighties. In such a male oriented den, it seemed only fitting to have degrading arresting display of feminine beauty. Sadly back then my hormones have not kicked in and I didn’t’ know what the big fuss was with women. I stared at them posters with as much gusto I would a Snell chart.

But the barber trips always put a cheer on my dad’s stride. It was just us boys with dad. We didn't speak much, but that's how we communicate.
On our way home, my dad would be happy to do a side trip to a nearby store and buy our favourite drink - this with very little nagging.
When he’s happy, were happy. Life was good.

Uncle Mario has finished his job.
I awoke from my daze and put on my glasses. The haircut is much shorter than expected. I look like a dried up chiapet.

Oh well. It will grow back.


Talamasca said...

I have just the perfect song for your childhood memory:

I was dragged down the street by His Royal Dadness
We rounded the corner and came to a stop
Threw me inside Jake's barber shop
I said, "please sir just a little off the top..."
Dude shaved me bare, gave me a lollipop
So on my head there's nothing but stubble
Man, I hate bein' in deep, deep trouble!

~ Deep, Deep Trouble by Bart Simpson

Hehe. I heart that Lactobacilli Shirota Strain drink as well. Oh, and sue the Italian barber. Ktnxbai.

Alternati said...

I luurve yakult and I still drink one occasionally whenever I pass by our favorite talipapa.

Buon Giorno! I always imagined Italians to always smell of mozarella and olives... but I was sadly mistaken. The only Italian phrase I committed to memory when we visited was "Biglietto per un giorno" haha... It doesn't really inspire conversation of any sort.

LOL at your Italian barber. I have such a vivid image of him in my head.

I used to be scared of that last neck thing they did in the barbershop we went to when I was a kid. I always felt like I was gonna get my skull disconnected or something.

Don't worry, I hear topiary haircuts are having a comeback.. :P

@Tala... great song choice! :)

Anonymous said...

hahahha. nice song tala. brings back memories of when i used to do the bartman!

Anonymous said...

alternati, the italians ive met do smell like olives. but trust me its not a pleasant smell.

yeah - im worried about the razor blade they use in barbershops. my cousin once told me that someone got hep c because of it! daaamn!