On barbershop pleasures

Illustration by Louisa Bertman


“Mid-fade to half, keep my sideburns, taper to zero at the neck, a bit off the top with some texture,” I tell my barber in the lingo it took me ten years to learn.

My eyes close as he pumps my chair, leans me back, and begins. I feel the electric purr of the clippers moving against my scalp and neck, cutting hair away down to the skin, clean. The controlled vibrations soothe like mini-massages all around my head. The barber adjusts the blades, switches the plastic guards that guide the length of the cut and protect the flesh…

No one sings songs or makes movies about my Whittier Boulevard.

There’s no mythology around the days of zoot suits, classic lowriders, and Chicano movement marches. That’s because my Whittier Boulevard is not in East L.A. Mine is a deeper drive east. It snakes well past the 605 freeway. This is East Whittier before crossing into La Habra, Orange County. This is the Whittier Boulevard of the Orange County borderlands, one that often escapes the attention of history writers, culture makers, and culinary tourists. …

Melissa Mora Hidalgo, PhD

author, writer, & adjunct profe | literature, ethnic, & gender studies | life’s a butch, son of something, & other queer Chicana stories from L.A. to Limerick

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