Friday, 12 October 2012

'Hairdressers Are Too Dangerous for Boys' by Conor O'Reilly


I was sent to the hairdressers. Not to the barbers where my old man went. I recently learned that it was because I cried when I got the same haircut as every other eight and nine year old boy in the village. I also learned that I cried when I got a different haircut from everyone else. Some people are never happy.

The hairdresser’s has always smelled strange, or it has its own smell. A smell concocted of hairdryer and hairspray and peroxide and everything else I saw being applied mechanically to heads.

Back then I would sit mop-headed and big-eared waiting. I’d pick my nose and flick through Marie Claire and OK hoping they had a comic strip, or at least the flash of a white bra strap. In the barbers there was everything; The EagleThe BeanoThe Dandy, and if they were taken there were the topless women on page three of The Sun, or the dirty phone numbers on page 49 of the Sunday World, if it was leftover from the weekend.

One day a man walked in. I wasn’t alone. I had a mop headed and awkward looking ally, another unimpressed by all this fanfare over hair. He was dressed in what looked like a really expensive suede jacket, no tie and he wore jeans during summer.

I admired this upstanding gentleman, he who could wear jeans and a suede jacket, here for an upstanding short back and sides. He sat reading a man’s paper that he had, no doubt, bought with his own money and he was now choosing to read it instead of OK and Take a Break. Why couldn’t I have thought of that?

He had foresight. He had wisdom. This man actually might be a genius, a local figurehead, a man of status. That’s the reason he took his business to the hairdressers in the first place!

After mulling over it I finally worked out why he’d come here – clearly, he was going to get married! It was so obvious that he was getting married on Saturday. How could it be anything else?

I could tell his future wife was gorgeous, like one of the Page 3 women in the newspapers, but she didn’t show her boobs to anyone, not even him and his suede jacket. I reckoned he must want a really special haircut for her – I knew I would for my wedding.

It was his turn. He stood up. I knew I should listen and get some pointers from this expert, just in case I might be able to indulge myself if it cost less than the three pounds my mother had given me with the order, “and don’t stop in the shop on the way home”. I sat waiting, ears perked and concentrating. I watched his mouth opening:

“Hi, how are ye? Grand. Two blade, shave it all off, thanks love”.

I swore that I would never go back to the hairdressers.

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