Today I got a haircut. Normally, a haircut is just one of those necessary activities which doesn’t cause one a lot of stress. However, all of my haircuts up until today were done in an english speaking barbershop. The barber shop is perhaps the place where being able to communicate is priority number one. But thank god for pictures.
Now, my french isnt horrible. I know how to say things like “I want my hair short” or “I want my hair all the same length”. But phrases such as these don’t hold enough detail for something as important as the follicles on our head. My french is definitely not advanced enough for me to say something like “take a little off the top, keep the sideburns, will i need to use gel?” etc…
So I walk into the shop (which ironically is blaring techno music with english lyrics). The barbers rock their heads to the music as they go about their business cutting, styling, washing, and colouring hair. First thing I ask is “Combien ca coute?” 22 Euros. Wooh! Pretty steep for a haircut for a frugal guy. But I agree.
It was not until the end that I believed that it was worth to 30 or so Canadian dollars. The barber I had was much more detailed, meticulate, and caring than any other barber I’ve had. Normally, my haircuts last about 10-20 minutes. I think this one lasted almost 45! It wasn’t that he cut my hair slowly and took smoke breaks. It was just that there were so many phases to the job. First, a close shaving of the back and sides. Then, a trimming of the top. Then a shampoo followed by some really neat instrument that is basically a dustbuster for one’s head. Then some more cutting, some final touches. And finally, a little bit of gel.
I got the feeling that this guy was really INTO what he was doing. That this was his masterpiece. That if he didn’t give me all that he had, his boss was going to sever one of his limbs.
Now, this is the reason why I didn’t complain. I don’t especially like the haircut and will likely hide it under a hat or toque in the coming days but I didn’t want to insult the guy. He told me before he started, “Faites moi confiance.” Trust me. So I did.
But his look of pride and vindication throughout the whole process made it impossible for me to say, “you know what, just shave it all. Could you please throw away the last 45 minutes of your life?”
So there you have it. Now I look like all the french youth do. With some combination of shaved, hair on the top, faux-hawk, strange twists and turns. But I did not have the heart to tell this guy to change it. I was his canvas and he had just made it his own. I couldn’t take that away from him.