That was rather unsettling. Went for a haircut to the cheap place down the road. The only barber was a woman – an extraordinarily pretty Moroccan (as it turned out).
I’ve not had my hair cut by a woman in at least a decade. The last time it was a careworn Albanian, down in West Hampstead’s Little Illyria (there really is such a place – our local Albania Town).
“All Albanian men is shits,” she hissed in my ear, at one point.
Anyway, I was a little thrown by the beauty of my barber (a Berber barber? Possibly…). I’d forgotten what an intimate act it all is, the caressing and stroking of the head…
And then I remembered that just the other day a Facebook friend (which one …?) had told me that her hairdressing husband had to put up with people who would ‘fiddle under the smock’, and so I became worried that she might suspect me of something similar, as I supposed that her beauty might well attract the wrong sort of customer. So I kept my hands rigidly on the chair arms (though still beneath the smock).
And then I felt a twitch of hey-fever. I feared a messy sneeze. I had no hanky. Could I ask her for a tissue? It would be fine if I actually sneezed. But what if the urge passed? And I drew the tissue beneath the smock, to put it in my pocket …
Anyway, it made for a very stressful twenty minutes. Half way through a silver fox character came in, bearing a bunch of flowers. Another barber had appeared, ready to work, but the silver fox waved him away, and asked my Berber barber how long she’d be. I think the flowers were for her. ‘Soon,’ she said, and I felt her hurry, rather, over my sideburns.
When I stood up after the haircut, the smock having been whipped away, I saw that the heat and the stress had resulted in the front of my shirt being sodden.
‘It’s, er, sweat,’ I said, though it would have been better to remain silent. I gave her a very generous tip.
Which again now seems like a mistake.