Tuesday, 28 April 2009

neighborhood vignette

Saw a great scene out my kitchen window last night. Didn't take more than a few minutes, but it made me smile all evening long. I hope I can get it across without sounding maudlin or mean.
I live around the corner from a kind of halfway house. Challenged folks living in the community. My kitchen overlooks a backyard with a picnic table and some lawn chairs, and I often see my neighbors out there taking the sun, or having a smoke. I was making dinner yesterday, with the windows open to enjoy the summery evening (I'm working on getting weather references into my posts), when I heard cries of astonishment and approval from outside. I peered down.
A younger guy, tall and heavy set, was sitting in an upright chair, wearing a table cloth around his neck. A woman stood behind him, mowing his dark hair in thick swaths with a pair of clippers while an older guy watched approvingly from the picnic bench. An even older guy was busy with a broom and dustpan, sweeping up the leavings. The scene recalled my own days as a barber in our basement. The kids were little -- maybe 4, 6, and 8 years old. I'd do them one at a time while the others watched, applauded, and swept up. The haircuts were ridiculous (not as bad as the picture. Mind you, when I finally took Thea to a real barber he asked, incredulously: Who did this to her?) but we all had a wonderful time with scissors and measuring tape.
Some of that same wonder was there in this scene in my neighbors' yard. I watched right through to the end when the young guy stood up, felt his shaven head, laughed, and felt the head of the lady barber who sported the same cut. The sweeper held up the full dustpan. They smiled at each other, went inside, and I felt warm.
Maybe I am being condescending. I sure hope not. The lady barber did a way better job than I ever did. What I enjoyed most about the scene was the authentic satisfaction of the players. They were having genuine fun, as I did with my kids. Would it be as much fun to watch hipsters cut hair? Don't think so. They'd raise their eyebrows and give that superior half smile, and view everything with ironic detachment.
(Shoot. Now it seems like I am making fun of hipsters. Sensitivity is a minefield, I tell you. It'll be way easier for my next post, when I'll talk about Sam's latest heroic adventure.)
Oh, if you were wondering about the measuring tape, it was to ensure evenness. I was a bad barber, but I was methodical. In retrospect, I would have been more successful with clipping shears.


Marilyn said...

I tried to cut my niece's bangs when she was seven and accidentally cut into her skin. Had to get her some ice. Guess it's good I didn't go into the hairdressing field. She hasn't forgotten it and she's 16 now.

Richard Scrimger said...

childhood traumas stick the longest. you get to be the evil auntie. vintage roald dahl. RS