I settle in the chair as my barber wraps a paper collar around my neck. I wonder why barber chairs are made this way. Kind of fancy, aren’t they? They’re probably designed to make you feel special, like at the dentists, since you’re about to be operated upon. Drills, scalpels, scissors, razorblades… the gear don’t really matter. You are helpless and submissive and under the mercy and powers of the operator.
I once wondered, if a barber decides to get you killed, is there any chance to stop him? Not much, I believe. If I was as powerful as the POTUS I might get my barber vetted. But till then and in the meantime, my barber is a nice guy from the suburbs of Damascus and that‘s as good a background check as one might get.
Cars honk and hoot out on the road. “festive mood, eh?” my barber asks. Not really looking for an answer. He looks in a festive mood himself. Kind of happy and relax.
“So how is business?” I ask.
“Sot bad… you know, we had a around during Eid eave. Then things slowed down a bit. But all in all it’s good. Al Hamdillah”
“Did you not get affected by the recession?”
“Not really,” he answers, bewildered “as you know, my customers are mostly local Emiratis. And even the expats keep coming. Look at you, for example, you’re not about to grow a ponytail ‘cause of the recession, are you?”
“No, not because of the recession. But since you’ve mentioned it, I was seriously pondering a ponytail. You know how lazy Í am. I visit you once every two month and then it’s only because my hair gets messy and disheveled.”
He furrows his eyebrows while his scissor clicks away. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to concentrate or he’s baffled by my proposition.
“Oh yeah, a ponytail. But you know, it may require much more work than you think. You need to take care of your hair; wash it, brush it, apply hair product and what not. You think women spend ample time before mirrors ‘cause they have nothing else to do? No, man. Long hair is a lot of work,” he smiles and keeps on talking, can’t really stop a guy once he’s rattling off something he knows well. “but,” he goes on, “once you’ve grown your hair long enough, you’re going to love it. Most guys I know never cut their hair short again after they’ve grown it. Unless it’s for something overriding. Like a job requirement or military service.”
“I see,” I said, the idea of the ponytail burst up in the air like a bubble. In fairness, it was never strong enough to begin with.
“Anyway, the idea was bad to begin with. You know, I swim a lot and long hair isn’t good for me. Do you swim yourself?”
“Me? Swimming?” he chuckles, “man, I’m the world champion in laziness.”
“It’s not really about laziness, I’m lazy, as you can tell.” hell he could tell, the floor around us was being carpeted with two months growth of hair. “Laziness in my opinion can’t be measured by doing the things you love doing. I love swimming and work out in general. Can’t deem myself active just because I’m doing them. Laziness is about not doing the grudging things that you HAVE to do. .. That’s laziness, know what I mean?”
Problem with barber conversations, you need to keep a low bar of intellectualism. My barber nods and looks blank. Not in the mood to revise his definition of laziness.
“So back to your business,” I say, changing the subject, “you know, it’s really great that it’s not been affected throughout this crisis. “
“What crisis? Man, all I know about the crisis is that the rent had dropped down around this area. I moved into a nice flat couple of months ago. Five minutes walk away from here”
“You did…? That’s great”, as far as I kn0w, my barber was struggling to get a driver license and was living at the other end of town. It was taking him an hour to commute via RTA bus service.
When you’re being operated upon by the barber, you learn trivial things about his/her life.
Five minutes. So much for laziness.
My barber finishes with the worldly proclamation of “Na3eeman”. I pay, tip and say goodbye. See you next year. Literally. The road had become swarming with cars painted the colors of the national flag. people stuck out from sunroofs of fast moving cars. Waving, screaming, spraying paint all around them in a mischievous way.
It takes me a while longer than usual to get home. But it’s OK. Everyone is in a festive mood and the ill-fitting international headlines can take the back seat while these kids screeched their tires and celebrated. Everyone seems to be happy, and the crisis is ward off for the time being.
Laziness, here I come.