Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Barbery Characters

I was delighting in some of the stories my former terrorist/freedom fighter hair stylist was telling me the other day when I realized the longer he talked the shorter my hair got.

This can be an issue for those of us whose follicle fallout seems to be on the increase. For the record let me just say that I’m not really going bald, it just takes me longer and longer to wash my face every day – that is all.

Anyway, my rakishly handsome barber, who separates me from my hair and $14 every couple of weeks, was regaling me with his tales of derring-do in 1970’s Nicaragua. I cannot recall what the rebel forces were called there – Sandynasty’s? Contrasts? Anti’s? Hezbollocks? Something like that. Anyway – he was apparently one of them, and had his fair share of close shaves (Ha! What a writer…) during his short-lived terrorist career.

We didn’t get into too much detail, fearing that lobbing grenades or shooting down low-flying aircraft may not carry any statute of limitations – and we can’t have those pesky roving death squads making messes in the Mission now can we?

So while the increasing exposure of my alabaster cranial skin was somewhat disconcerting it was, at the same time, interesting to learn something I had never suspected about my friend – so it was worth it.

Contrast this pleasant salon experience to my long-ago adventures with Bert The Alcoholic Nazi Barber. I’m not kidding – he was a German fellow who grew up during the war, was an admitted brainwashed Nazi who served in the Hitler Youth, and who, after the war (and presumably some Spandau Prison time) emigrated to Canada and became an alcoholic barber, although I’m not sure which of those qualifications came first.

Visits to Bert were a matter of careful timing. Arrive too early and he had the shakes so bad from his previous nights’ bender that he couldn’t hold anything in his trembling, sausage-like fingers. Arrive too late after his liquid lunch and he would be hopelessly staggering about the shop singing the Horst Wessel song or Lili Marlene, unable to hold on to any of the razor sharp Implements of Death he wielded with considerable enthusiasm if not skill.

With careful timing learned from bitter experience, I would try to arrange my encounters with Bert for around 12:30pm.

Unfortunately, I was not the only customer to have noticed Bert’s afflictions, and so inevitably I would be tenth in line for my ear-lowering instead of first or second. Given that Bert would often duck to the Bavarian restaurant next door for a fast stein or two during my waiting period (no doubt sending secret messages to Martin Bormann I thought), I was frequently faced with an internal dilemma.

Should I go scruffy-looking for another day and call Simon Wiesenthal with a report of Bert’s whereabouts? Or do I bravely submit to the worrisome ritual of a drunk Nazi waving a straight razor around my head while telling me lurid stories of his wartime exploits?

Usually, I would summon some pluck and resign myself to the experience, which was akin to a terrifying cab ride in some backwards third world country (like New York City). I believe fighter pilots call this a high pucker factor mission, and I’ll leave to your imagination what portion of the anatomy is doing the puckering.

Oh sure, I could have gone elsewhere for my bi-weekly sheering, but I enjoy living my life of high adventure with flair and elan. Going to a normal, less potentially lethal service provider just would not fit my public image.

While the mind fairly boggles thinking about the life and times of my next hair cutter, I think I’ll stick with my reformed freedom-fighter for now.

Call me boring.

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