When my medical condition was at its worst. Getting a hair cut was an ordeal. People stared at me as I waited. The barbers were less than kind. One fellow actually kicked me out, no matter how many times I explained no it wasn't leprosy and I was not contagious. In that time, I found Nick who was a great barber and was very none judgemental. I grew to have a great loyalty to him, but that has created its own problems.
First, Nick is semi retired. When he comes in to town to open his shop is pretty much random. Oh he has hours posted, but he rarely follows them. So there are weeks where I miss him. I can get quite shaggy by the time I can squeeze an appointment. I myself don't mind, but my loved ones and dog can get to be quite concerned. "What if someone is hunting yetis in the area?"
Before Nick, I thought our town was too small to have a bad section. How wrong I was. It is a small area, about 10 square blocks where the sun has burned the grass to yellow stubble. The houses seem to be built of adobe and termite wood, but are kept immaculately clean. Here is where the baby train's start. Mother's without cars making the daily trek to the store about a mile away. They have these strollers that are like push SUVs. They push the first and the second is pushed by the oldest child, and so on. Then comes the next mother. A full train can have five mothers and a Walton full of kids.
Nick's shop is a little one room affair. It has more security bars than walls. You can always tell when Nick is in cause his vintage sports car is always parked in front. How it stays there is a mystery. When you open the heavy security screen door the first thing you get is a wave of moist air. It's not exactly cool, but it's still comforting. There's a smell of hair and disinfectant, and something like saw dust. It's not a bad smell at all.
Inside there is already a line. As I said, you have to be ready when Nick's finally there. There are kids and old people. One old fellow looks like Cesare Romero. The kids all want shaved heads and fades. One older brother is complaining about how hard it is to find a job after jail. Cesare says aren't you afraid parole will bust you back? The kid says the state's to broke to rearrest him just for that.
I sit in the world's most comfortable couch and read a boxing magazine. I let the voices wash over me in English and Spanish and maybe... was that Russian? I notice there's a keyboard in the corner by Nick's kid. I ask if he plays. He says he's in a band and he can play anything.
Nick is a small man. Five one at best. But he's jaunty and cocky, and I mean that in all ways. For a man over fifty he's still got muscles and a jump to his step that says he still runs in the morning. His kid is different. Quiet and thin. He spends the time holding a broom he never seems to use and reading the paper.
Nick is quick an a master of the razor. He has ten of them, all tied to an octopus of cords coming out of one drawer. He uses them to take a simple head shaving to something like art. It's beautiful to see. I'm shamed to say I only ask for a trim. I wonder how people at home would react if I came home with a nearly bald head except for the words "Peace & love" carved in the back of my head.
Maybe someday. Until then, thank you Nick.