Warning: This entry contains the word homophobe, homosexual and hairstylist. I have attempted to use the words appropriately, however if the content offends, please refrain from commenting. I have likely already heard what you have to say.
The day was allegedly a down day at our location in Iraq. Essentially what that meant was we were allowed to get out of bed an hour later without consequences being enforced. That is, if we are not mortared out of our beds first. Explosions and sirens tend to have a similar affect on one’s somnocentric activities and mood, as an alarm clock radio set to the maximum volume and tuned into the most obnoxious heavy metal station available – you wake up angry. Which happened to be the case that morning. This was only amplified by the fact that I could have slept in. So to calm myself I thought I might get a hair or two cut. I enjoy a nice trimming by competent professionals and I was hopeful I could avoid being assigned one of the homosexual, Filipino hairstylists this time (apparently the word barber was too masculine for this particular establishment). Fat chance of that though because there’s only one guy in the whole joint that doesn’t fit that description and he’s always busy tonsuring the other 800 homophobes on base. Then I thought, “Maybe I should just shave my head.”
The idea of enduring the ridicule associated with sporting the look of a brilliant white swimming cap where my not so luxurious mane used to be was enough to squash the shaving idea, and in lieu of risking a run in with the “boys” at the “hair stylists’ salon”, I voted in favor of trying the only actual “barber shop” on post. That was a mistake. There is a reason why a haircut at the “hair stylist’s salon” is $7 while at the “barber shop” it’s only $3. And it has nothing to do with the different ethnic origins of the employees (Filipino and Indian), or the name on the door of the establishment, or the color schemes inside. It has to do with the fact that at the “hair stylists’ salon” scissors are held like scissors (in one hand), while at the barber shop scissors are held like hedge trimmers and used in the same fashion. There was no rhyme or reason to the young man’s method at the barber shop. In fact there was no method at all. I thought I saw him stick out his tongue in concentration at one point which is when I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the white swimming cap again from different angles. He actually became visibly upset with my hair when the section he had just prepared with his comb for trimming refused to stand on its own and be cut. I think he thought when the hairs fell over that they were actually ducking and trying to avoid him, which only served to invigorate his determination and made his cuts more erratic. In the end I paid him the three dollars because my hair was in fact shorter than it had been when I entered the barber shop. And off to the hair stylists’ salon I went, where I should have gone in the first place. Even though at this point I had realized the error of my ways and regretted my previous feelings of xenophobia/homophobia, God in his mercy saw fit to allow Nebi (the straight guy) to have just finished with his last customer and no one waiting as I walked in the door. So thanks to an artillery barrage, an Indian gardener and a straight Iraqi I now had a Princeton haircut. I am not sure how that adds up but I think the mathematician is little bit of a comedian.