Thursday, 7 February 2008

Life as a Biped

I get my hair cut at a peculiar little barbering school on Third Avenue near NYU full of very serious immigrant men from Russia, Jamaica, Honduras, Egypt and you-name-it. They’re adorable with their kits and their accents, asking each other’s advice and barely cracking a smile as they try not to nick you in the ear.

Once in a while one of them will engage the customers in conversation although, humor being the last thing you pick up in a new language, one doesn’t get far trying to horse around. The cut costs $5, and they seem quite happy with the $3 tip I throw in—see, you can still get a bargain in New York.

The best part, though, is just seeing all these newcomers trying to nail down a trade so they can have an income and a life in their new surroundings, amidst which you can witness them groping forward in the most winningly awkward way. The customers are another smorgasbord of ethnicities, and it reminded me of the segregationist argument from the 1960s that white-only barber shops existed because cutting African-style hair was just such a different technique. Sure, that’s why Sergey, Ahmed and Mario learn it in ten lessons.

The guy next to me smiled placidly while getting a clipper-cut down to his bald head that looked for all the world like a scalp massage. Guys, go forth and multiply, and let hair of all colors fall to the earth.


Oh yes, and Hillary looked pretty tough to beat on Tuesday, reminding me of my estrangement from the biped species. Several people in my daily environment were quite pleased even though they are not of a warlike nature nor particularly fond of the little adventure in Iraq she continues to quietly endorse. Politics is the art of doing one thing and projecting another on the large screen behind you, so I suppose we should be impressed with those talents of hers, at least.


It was 68 in New York yesterday, breaking the former record by 10 degrees. This is some consolation for those who do not believe in reincarnation—by the time things melt completely, we should be well dead and not have to come back to endure the consequences.

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