Observations: Haircare on a Murky Saturday
I just wiped snippets of hair off my keyboard.
I’m at Ebenezers Coffeehouse near Union Station. Why no apostrophe? I honestly couldn’t tell you. But, the coffee is top-notch, and the vibe is… well, there’s some sort of a vibe.
After waking up far too late this morning (afternoon), I decided it was time for a haircut. My barber is up here — two blocks from Union, one block from the Hart Senate Office Building, one block from Ebenezers.
The multitude of barbers in Foggy Bottom have no clue how to cut my strange, cowlicky hair. So, I go to Capitol Barbers, a bland set-up inside of an office building. It couldn’t be more drab or devoid of… well, vibe… if it tried.
It’s a rainy Saturday. It seems like every time I go to this place, it’s a rainy Saturday. I wait for 10 minutes — longer than usual — and I watch the customers, each in his oddest form.
The shop is illuminated with the brightest lights, so everyone looks like a mangled alien. There are mirrors throughout the room, so you can see every angle of every human male’s half-shaved head. One [corpulent] gentleman has a large, large, bushy beard, as thick as the hair on his head. He’s being shaved — no, sheared — by a tiny woman a third of his size. I stare at the ground.
A tall, lanky man sweeps a mass of hair from one side of the room to the other. My mind goes to Holocaust museum exhibits… full of mounds of shaved hair — gotta go dark first. I think of customers’ dead hair cells combined in a giant Hefty bag— a little lighter.
I’m called up for my shearing.
Today, a very quiet, middle-aged Asian woman cuts my hair. I say things to her, ask her questions about her day, or tell her about how I want my hair cut — and she rarely replies. There are fewer things more uncomfortable than talking to another person who looks you in the eyes through a mirror across the room, and says nothing.
The shop was, otherwise, full of commotion. Male barbers talk to male customers. Two female barbers. Zero female customers. Three Paul Mitchell posters of female hairstyles.
Without asking, she shaves my neck and sideburns with a straight razor. Completely relaxed, I think of Sweeney Todd and momentarily accept my fate. I pay. I tip. Exit Fleet Street.
The coffee at Ebenezers is good. And strong. I’m at a wooden communal table. My large black drip coffee drains along with my laptop battery.
I woke up thinking today was Sunday. I freaked out, came to my senses, and then felt relaxed. There are weekend afternoon after exhausting weeks you cannot help to feel relaxed. Relaxation by force. Your body doesn’t care enough to stress anymore. Your mind flees to faraway places, tragic pictures of fates and hopeful images of a near future where D.C. is less grey and murky.
Eventually, I’ll walk back through the crowds of Union Station… past the heroin addicts, chain smoking rail passengers, between the kids elated by the realization of their Pokémon Go fantasies.
For now, I’ll continue to scratch my itchy neck and blow brown hairs off QWERTY keys.
“Medium pumpkin-pie latté!?”
David Bowie’s “Heroes” plays, a decibel too low.