It’s a new year, 2016. As with all New Year’s, it comes with hope and dreams of new beginnings, a new slate on which to right the wrongs of the previous year. Most people have resolutions, go to the gym, eat healthy, take out the trash. I’m in a similar boat, though mine are less glamorous.
The chief says a man must have three things: a good pair of shoes, a reliable mechanic and a regular barber; barber not shave. Those are my 2016 goals.
Now when it comes to shoes, I’m yet to get a decent pair. Only because the last pair I thought half decent cost me 2 weeks’ pay, a kidney and an unpaid cell phone bill. The quest continues.
This year for sure though, I need a new barber. A regular old school one. My current barber, Shiro is alright, but I need a change. My 2015 experience was one to behold. There was a time the barber experience for a man was a 30 minute shave, and rub down with methylated spirit. Lots of methylated spirit. Smokers had to beware, because you could not light a match right after a shave.
This doesn’t happen anymore though. The barber experience takes no less than one hour these days. They have head massages. Proffered by a female with an ample bosom if you’re lucky. If not, the bosom will not be so ample. Shiro’s bosom is halfway there. She, like many other head massagers at all barber shops these days, went to the same school of hair science. I’m not sure who taught them to massage heads, but that person should be shot.
Let me break it down. Shiro usually starts off slow. Standing behind you, she’ll unbutton your shirt till just above your belly button. Or, if you’ve run into money, just above the start of your bulging pot. She’ll then wrap a questionable towel around your neck, tucking it in to ‘protect’ your shirt for what will come next. Observing her in the mirror you will see her pour a dollop of massage oil into her palm. OK, maybe not massage oil. Most places can only afford baby oil.
She’ll then approach you, baby oil, cupped in her hand and then gently commence the massage. She’ll start at your now shaven head, and slowly work that baby oil into your scalp. Her fingers doing a dance on your head like members of a synchronized dance troupe. Then you close your eyes. Everyone closes their eyes. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s rude to keep them open. Like kissing with your eyes open.
The finger dance on your head continues, and then she moves to your neck. First on the sides. Slippery fingers getting rid of all that tension. Really? Tension? Because a haircut is very stressful and your neck is tense from the loss of beloved follicles. Then Shiro will do something strange. She’ll start ‘massaging’ your neck bone. I mean the vertebrae. You know those little bones at the back of your neck? Those ones.
Meanwhile she’ll say something like, ‘Aki una knots mingi’
Lady, those are not knots! Those so called knots keep my head from falling off my shoulders.
That’s what you’ll think to yourself but not tell her. As you wince, she’ll proceed with reckless abandon.
As she continues battering your poor neck, trying to un-knot it, you’ll be in half pleasure and half pain. Mostly pain. The ‘half’ is for illustrative purposes.
As if you thought that wasn’t enough torture, wait until you get the temple crush. Yes, at the end of the head massage session, Shiro will use her fingers to perform a clockwise-anticlockwise rubbing motion on your temples. That’s only to distract you from what shall come next. Without warning, she shall press against your temples with her fingers. Like she wants her fingers to meet in the middle of your skull. She’ll only stop once she can feel your brain. If you had nodded off, that shall surely wake you up.
Shiro is smart though. That ‘massage’ is a ploy. To get you to succumb to further torture.
Yes. In that dazed state, she will ask you, ‘Nikufanyie mani-pedi?’
Say No. It’s a trap. But you’ll probably agree. Because it’s 2016. And men have mani-pedis. Which i gathered is short for manicure and pedicure. Yes. You pay someone to cut your nails. Instead of using your teeth. Like the chief does.
Shiro will do this for you. She’ll pull out her implements for the job. You’ll sit there with a towel on your lap and your feet in a bucket of water. To soften your cuticles. I don’t know what cuticles are. The position you’ll be in shall not allow for quick evasive manoeuvres in the event of an emergency. Should armed thugs attack at the barbershop, all you’ll have to defend yourself is a nail file. And even then, you’ll be guarded, because you don’t want to smudge your clear nail polish. And you can’t run after them, because you’re feet are wet. Maybe you can blind them with your shiny nails.
After all is said and done, you will pretend to feel good. More confident. Modern even. You’ll proudly display your pristine nails as you hold your whisky glass aloft in the pub. To catch the eye of that pretty girl across the table.
It happened to me, but those nails caught the eye of the chief. Not some yellow as a sweet potato dame. As we talked about politics, corruption and land purchase opportunities. The normal topics. He caught the shine off my nails and frowned. I tried to hide them, but it was too late. I knew I had to start defending myself once again. Despite my shiny nails, I’m still a man.
And I’m still looking for a new barber.