I held off getting a haircut before I left for Paris until the last possible moment. And I had Lloyd use the one eighth inch comb on his electric shears. That is half again what I normally have cut off.
Several years previous I had faced the fact that what hair I had left just didn’t look very good when cut as if I actually had hair left. I wasn’t doing anything grotesque such as a comb-over, I was merely doing what seemed to be the rational thing: having my barber cut my hair sort of just beyond medium-short because that is what I had evolved into having my hair cut like over some fairly long number of intervening previous years. (To actually understand what I might be talking about here, one would have had to have read Screen Saver – specifically the clip about the time that I had been routing around in my bed stand drawer and had laid out my my driver licenses on the bed, next to my knee, end to end and had discovered a movie which documented my transition from youth to old age and to oblivion. What had happened, as documented by those pictures, in relation to my hair length, was that, although my spirit hadn’t changed, – I still looked as if I was ready to show up at roll call every morning - my head had changed, and that change included the mammalian covering that had come with it when I had been born. And that covering was just not what it had once been.)
The reason for the double short cut just before I had left the US was to allow a double long time to pass before I might need a haircut. I had never needed to get a haircut in France, and, therefore had never experienced that particular cultural activity; somehow, the idea of doing that cowed me. I just wasn’t sure, even with my French dictionary, how I was going to navigate that experience. Ordering a glass of wine was easy. Asking someone to “faisez la coupe tres cours” just seemed beyond what I was capable of.
But I knew that I was going to need to navigate that experience. Four months would be too long a time to go without a decent haircut. It would be too long, unless I grew a beard and started walking around the city with a paper cup with some coins in it that I could shake around and thrust at passers by saying “:j’ai faim; j’ai faim”. I gave that fairly serious consideration, but just trying to negotiate the vagaries of getting a haircut seemed to be the lesser of two weevils.
On a Paris trip or two back – I always go to Passage Brady and Restaurant Shalimar - circumstances had suddenly brought into my conscious potpourri of relevant realizations the fact that there were several barber shops in the Passage. And they only charged six euros, as opposed to Twenty five or thirty euros for – something like a haircut I guess, but god knows what it might involve to be worth thirty euros, especially for someone such as I who had, really, no hair – that I had seen posted on the windows of shops on Boulevard St Germain and similar venues.
So as my about-to-commence four month visit to Paris loomed ever more imminently in my not very distant future, I had my hair cut twice as short as I usually had it cut, just prior to departure. That would give me time to negotiate the possibilities.
And I really don’t know why I was so obsessed with hair – so obsessed that I timed my last cut before departure, and its very length to fit with the timing of the imminent trip - except that there was something overwhelmingly daunting to me about trying to tell a French-Pakistani barber what it is that I wanted done to that meager dusting of hair-like substance that occupied my head. The fact that it has the really annoying characteristic of growing too long to look good would. I knew, inevitably make the need for one or more cuts unavoidable.
And today became the day to see if I had the chutzpah and the French to pull it off. That which was to be pulled off would, if successful result in a haircut that let me go a few more weeks. And if successful. would inevitably tie me to whatever barber provided that cut, and tie me to him or her for the duration.
So I left the apartment at about 1130 today for the walk up Boulevard Sevastopol with a loop back at the last moment to Rue St Denis and up, under the arch to Passage Brady and lunch, and, I hoped, after lunch, une coupe.
Lunch was great.
Then loomed large the acid test.
When I had entered the Passage from Rue St Denis de Faubourg and had walked down to the other end where Restaurant Shalimar is, I had made note of the number of customers in the various barber shops pour les hommes – there are some for les femmes, aussi – and had decided, as I had on a couple of previous scouting/lunch-at-the Shalimar expeditions, that the one that I broached first was the right one to go to. It had less barbers and less customers. I felt more able to deal with that type of circumstance.
So I had lunch.
And then I was going back down Passage Brady toward the barber shop that I had chosen.
And then I was there.
And then I went in.
As luck would have it, there was one barber, and he had just finished with a customer.
The barber motioned me to his chair.
I took that chair.
And with a few gestures from both of us, and a couple protestations from me about my inability to speak French, we negotiated what it was that I needed, in French, and in no time I left with my new tres courte cheveux – good for, at least, 30 more days.
And I really am looking forward to going back to that shop. It is really nice when one finds someone upon whom one can depend.