16 Jun, 2015
I don’t know if there are people who enjoy visits to the barber. Statistically, I guess there would be some who do – people who revel in the wonderful world of styling, who keep up with the latest fashion trends for the neck up. I am not one to judge – It takes all kinds, I guess, so I would politely refrain from making fun of these hapless dim-witted weirdoes.
Instead, let me just state my case – My visits to the barber are purely functional; a chore to be endured. My best strategy so far has been to zone out as long as possible while the boring event takes place. Now, I have to confess that there has been a few incidents here and there where I could have benefited from being a bit more attentive and a bit less lost-in-wonderland when visiting the butcher of mane, but overall, being conscious doesn’t seem worth the boredom.
It is also a gesture of trust – It’s saying “Here, stranger with sharp objects, I’m placing a significant chunk of my appearance in your hands. I trust you will not turn out to be a practical joker with an inclination to modern art”. This strategy has worked so well for me so far – Nobody has ever said my hair looked awesome, but at least it’s not scaring children away – I set a pretty low bar for hair styling.
Unfortunately, the zoning out gambit has run its course. Over the last several visits to the barber, I’ve seen that there’s a new addendum to the course. At least, I THINK it’s new.
I’ve mentioned before how language issues subjected me to an impromptu wax at my Arab habibi’s salon. Eventually, I decided to try out a new salon. I got in the seat and proceeded to zone out as usual. The first godknowshowmany minutes were pretty uneventful. I was calm and relaxed, in another world, only to be jolted back to reality with the sound of a bang… and a thud. The b. and t. in question would have been alarming on their own – it’s not something one expects in a shop full of sharp blades. But what was particularly alarming about this bang and thud was that they were felled directly on my head.
Now, I am a rather forgiving person, and I am open to letting bygones be bygones. So I was thinking that I could simply forg.. THUD! Oh, no. Another one? That was no mistake. That was an intentional rap on the head. I looked at the barber – Did I do something to him? Maybe I resembled a villainous family member who cheated him of his property back in his homeland? Maybe in my zoned out state, I made an offensive remark about his mother? That didn’t sound like me, but hey, why else would a virtual stranger be THUD BANG TUK TUK TUK TUK TUK…
Ohkeyyy, this was getting out of control. He was now rapping on my head with both hands. He interlocked his fists by intertwining fingers at the knuckles and continued; he started covering every inch of my head in rhythmic, well timed mini-punches. His hands went TUK TUK TUK TUK TUK TUK TUK, and my mind went OW OW OW OW OW OW. Forgiving as I was, I was less inclined to turn a blind eye to the assault and was considering turning one of his eyes blind.
But by this time, though, I was completely awake (If you can take about four dozen punches and still remain asleep, you may have bigger things to worry about than mildly violent barbers). No longer zoned out, I had started giving my full attention to the onslaught. It took a few seconds, but I dismissed the notion that this was an act of aggression. I reasoned that if the fellow wanted to inflict harm, he had sharp weapons handily lying around, after all. The rhythmic nature of the mini-punches, the chap’s deadpan expression as he delivered them, and the fact that none of the other patrons at the salon found the behaviour strange – all pointed to this being a matter of routine. It would have taken a duller mind than mine to remain perplexed by the mystery. I deduced – correctly, in fact – that I was at the receiving end of a massage.
This was delivered as a bonus; a free service given away with every haircut at this new salon of mine. As the dauntless chap continued his battery of my poor head, and as my brain undoubtedly rattled in its shell, there were a lot of thoughts that sped their way out of my head. Most notably, I was pondering in wide eyed incredulity, the fact that people actually pay for stuff like this. In upscale salons, I presume they even have a menu for a variety of cranial massages. I imagine a fancy fonted menu in which options like Judo, Kung Fu, Karate, Taekwondo, and Muai Thai, are presented as the punching styles used for the massages.
Now you may be thinking – Hamish, if you don’t like the gosh darned service, then you can just fudgin’ tell them no. Apparently, I think your thoughts are Disney censored, but let’s just overlook that for a bit. Yes, the massage is NOT mandatory. I’m sure that if I simply raised my hand and said “Excuse me, sensei, if you could just leave out the punc… the massaging, that would be great”, that would be the end of it. No hard feelings, except for injuries sustained till then, of course. But I can’t do that. Remember that for this salon, the massage was free! As a true blooded Indian, refusing free stuff is an Ethan Huntesque mission of epic impossibleness.
Whenever my vocal cords synthesize the words “Hey, about that free stuff – just cut it out, ok?”, the words are magically transformed by the time it reaches my lips to something like “Hey.. about that free stuff … Can I have two more of those to go?” So that’s a strict no to saying no. Sure, my head may end up getting bruised eventually, but gosh darn it, it’s fudgin’ free.
I’ve been reading up on the barbers who give head massages. It’s far more popular than I thought. And most people seem to enjoy them. I guess one day, I will too… probably after my head injury gets a bit more debilitating and I can no longer differentiate between good and bad.
But a far more interesting, and an infinitely more entertaining phenomena exists – Cosmic massages. It includes your run of the mill head massage, coupled with a weird dance where the cosmic barber shoves cosmic energy into your head and face using his bare hands. I don’t care if you don’t believe it. I don’t care if you don’t understand or appreciate the wondrous supernatural gift that’s being used to service your cosmic spirits. I don’t care, because it’s hilarious.
Seeing this, I feel completely shortchanged. My free head massage was nothing – a half-hearted halfway knockoff that brought in all the pain and left out all the jolly, insane fun of the thing. I am going to find one of these cosmic massage places and head out with a bucket of popcorn to watch the festivities; ‘watch’ being the operative word here. I just want to watch because –
- You can’t see the cosmic massage in all its hilarity while getting it done ON you. You only have so much peripheral vision.
- With a sure fire operation like that, there’s bound to be one hell of a rush to get cosmic massages. I am not a patient man.
- Last but not least… I expect that watching the procedure would be free.