And now another of our non-sequential posts that reveal more details about our mysterious author’s past because you’ve been breathlessly waiting for more pulse pounding background. Although, if your pulse pounds from tales about my life, you must lead an even less eventful life than me. It’s possible, I suppose. The world is filled with wonder (such as, I wonder when he’s going to get on with this post?).
I am a loyal person. This trait characterizes many aspects of my life. I use the same detergent, just as my Mom did before me. I stick with the same insurance carrier for my car despite proclamations by talking lizards that I could save more elsewhere. My teeth have probably been brushed with Crest since right after teething. The loyalty extends to friends and even to services. Next month holding my birthday brings up an excellent example.
Hopping into our recently detailed and sparkly clean way-back machine, we’re travelling nearly four decades into the past today. Then, a curly-headed 12-year old boy is being guided into a local North Miami Beach barber shop by his Mom, who has been searching for a new barber after a…disagreement…with the previous one. It was my birthday that week and she wanted me “all cleaned up” for the party.
The new barber had a classic shop, complete with spinning pole mounted on the door outside. Mom quizzed him for a minute or two and his affable replies seemed to please her, for she gestured for me to sit in the chair while she walked back up front to wait.
The barber proceeded to cut my hair. Or perhaps a better term might be shear. To say I had thick curly hair would be missing the point by a degree of ten. My hair never grew long, it grew in. The curls would curl upon themselves, creating a massive ball of hair. I’m not certain of the timing, but I may have been the forerunner of the afro. By the time he was done, you could no longer see the floor below my chair. I’m serious, it was that much hair!
When I went away to college, it could be months before I would make it back home. Since I had never gone to any other person from that time as a twelve year-old, my hair would be larger and thicker each time I returned. For those of you old enough to visualize the reference, think Robert Reed (patriarch of the Brady Bunch), only thicker.
As years passed, I began to slowly migrate north along with many of the people from NMB. Some of this was due to Mom moving and then later on me when I was on my own. Still, I continued to drive down to NMB to get my haircut with my barber. At one point, the drive was nearly an hour’s distance, even taking the high-speed Florida Turnpike. But when you are treated right and you’re loyal, you keep going back.
While I ended up moving even further north, my barber finally moved a little north himself, cutting the travel time these days to about 45 minutes. The shop is a little bigger and his daughter now works there as well, but I only go to him for my haircuts.
A couple years ago, I brought a big candy basket with me. My barber and his daughter happily, but curiously, asked what the occasion was. I told them today was nearly our 35th anniversary together. With my birthday the following week, this was as close as I was going to get to that curly-haired twelve year-old’s first visit. My barber chuckled and mentioned his birthday was next week as well. A quick comparison of the days turned up we were born on exactly the same day (albeit 20 years apart). Imagine having a conversation with someone every month for 35 years and never realizing you had the same birthday! That was cause for more laughter.
Of course, if you’ve seen my picture, you know that there’s not much concern about sweeping the floor when I come in for an appointment. Fact is, there’s hardly enough hair to mess up the apron. It seems almost silly to drive 45 minutes for a 15-minute haircut. But, after 35 (excuse me, 38 next month) years together, I can’t imagine going to anyone else.
My hair doesn’t appear to be disappearing anymore, so I suppose someday I will have to choose another barber. Who knows, if I live long enough, maybe I can squeeze out another 35 years with someone else. I just wish I could remember those questions Mom asked to make the right decision.