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The Christmas Haircut

Page 3

Neil Blick

He engages each man in an almost identical routine, subtly similar yet delicately different. All men are different. Client number four is more than different. He has checked his watch every minute, then his phone, and then the big black Roman numeral numbers on Milton’s wall clock. Client four has been jigging and tapping for 30 minutes now. Perhaps he needs a toilet or a drink or a haircut fast. Now he is in the chair “Number two all over”? “Yes, number two and eyebrow too”. Did he mean he had two eyebrows? It doesn’t matter it’s all over now. The cash is handed over. “Now out into the lovely day”.

Milton’s barbershop ebbs and flows with a procession of hairy to clipped men. Quietly waiting, staring out the big front window at the passing traffic or reading old fishing and game magazines, newspapers or books carried in by hand. There are fewer mobile phones than may be experienced in the world outside. “Never had one never want one, they just beep and buzz and want me to answer quickly”.

There are a few exceptions. Younger men making phone calls to tell the listener they are waiting for a haircut. Does the receiver really need to know? A regular mundane social function that keeps appearances neat and hair management simple. Maybe it is the ‘highlight of their day’. For this December week, “The busiest time of the year because a man wants to look shipshape for Christmas”. This week Milton has a special line to use “After this head shear you will look more handsome than the Christmas ham”. The rustle of newspapers quietens and conversation is hushed when the client tells Milton that his wife just died, and he has cancelled Christmas this year. Milton slows, half drops his scissors, then a pause “Sorry to hear”.

Milton resumes his steady work and soon the man’s final cut is complete.   “Now out into the lovely day”.

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