My hair cut at Dan Cercone Hairstyling this afternoon provides the impetus for this bit of blogging bloggery.
The shop was warm and musty, and it smelled like old men, shaving cream, Barbicide, and aged cigar smoke. I walked through the door and, not wanting to look like a newcomer, sat in a chair near the door. The chair was long past its prime, and I hoped to not fall through the old slits in the decaying, brown vinyl, into a polyester filling nightmare. Looking up, I noticed Katy was right: the place was right out of the '50s. Even the cash register was one of those ancient machines with the big, lever-style keys.
The barber shop was only slightly more modern than thisI picked up one of several copies of the local paper sitting on the chair next to me and started to read the headline story, something about the Sago Mine affair in nearby West Virginia a couple months ago. Affirming the date on the paper was, in fact, today's, I read on.
One of the barbers was a Joe Pesci-looking fellow, certainly not out of place for the part of town: Bloomfield, Pittsburgh's Little Italy. Joe Pesci finished with the kid whose ears he was lowering, charged his mother ten bucks, and wondered, aloud, if anyone else was ready for a hair cut. I offered the opportunity to the other two men waiting in the vinyl chairs, but they declined, motioning toward their barbers of choice. Presumably, 40-year-old barber habits don't die easily.
I tossed the paper back into the chair from whence it came and approached Joe Pesci, greeting him and not quite inquiring after his wife, children, and the weather. We briefly discussed my hair, and he began the hair cut. It turns out Joe is actually Larry, and he's quite the comedian. He even has professional practice from ages ago. My hair cut experience was largely dominated by jokes referencing various ethnic and culture groups: Irish was first because he thought I looked Irish, and that was followed by a slew of Eastern European, Israeli, and gay jokes. While decidedly politically incorrect, most of his humor was, in fact, humorous.
My favorite joke was about members of the gay Mafia; the punchline is that when they're mad at you, they come to your house, and they don't break your legs — they break your coffee table's legs.
The comedy was occasionally punctuated by Larry's inquiries of my employment, projects, and so forth. I gave him the 15-second tour of the human circulatory system, highlighting the colors of the various types of blood cells and steering clear of complicated words like erythrocyte and leukocyte. After I described the artificial white blood cell project to him, he was enthralled and excited, and he uttered several expressions of amazement. It's a wonderful feeling to know the common man can so easily become agog over a project that is far beyond his intellectual grasp. Maybe there is hope for science, after all.
Larry's jokes continued until the end of the hair cut, which ended up leaving my hair a bit too long on the top, and we parted ways, each of us ten dollars richer.
I really enjoyed my experience at the barber shop today, and I look forward to the occasions in the future when I again have the opportunity to get a hair cut there. The ten dollars and half an hour I'll never get back have gone a long way toward helping me see the warm side of humanity, and that is especially important right now, during a time when my faith in my neighbors' abilities to think for themselves has been waning.
That's all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed my story. I'm now going to read journal articles in preparation for my Distributed Systems exam on Monday.