This Sunday I decided to go to the local barbershop, something most (99%) of women don’t do. I was there not as a client, but a client by association. The Man needed a haircut, and I had nowhere else to go. I was welcomed by the Barber (I am assuming this is him because of his freshly cut hair, but maybe it’s not him…Kinyozi hajinyoi Translation: A Barber does not shave his head himself. I stand waiting for a Kiti ya mgeni to be pointed out for me to walk to, or to be dragged to me for me to sit on. This is unfamiliar territory, but you can’t let them see that you have never been here. You can’t let a b* see you sweat.
The man makes himself comfortable. “Kuja ukae hapa,” he tells me, signalling for me to sit next to him. So, first thing, Barber shops don’t have seats for idlers or people waiting for other people. Why? Because people don’t come to wait for other people in Barber shops. People are NOT brought by other people to wait for them at the Barber shop.Plus you can’t come for anything extra like get your eyebrows tweezed or a mani-pedi if you are bringing a friend but you were there a week before. This is very much unlike the salon.
The seat is fancy. It has a recliner. And it ‘swallows’ you. You literally sink in. It has huge armrests on either side, and it leans back when you rest your back on it. Fit for a King-ish King. Well, the salons I know have regular seats, the only ones that lean back are the ones at the sink. Pretty decent Barber shop.
I look around, it has large posters with like 50 pictures of ‘prior clients’ showing all the different kinds of haircuts they do. It looks believable given the dark skinned ‘models’ on the posters.But I see Will Smith as one of the posters and wonder whether indeed they can do a similar haircut…Or maybe if Will Smith got his hair cut here.Hahaha. I am almost sure some people who don’t know him believe that he was a client here. For salons, you find some posters of local samples of prior clients, and maybe 1 or 2 samples of models on labels of hair extensions used by clients, plus some promotional posters by various vendors competing to win over clients.
The Barber cleans his shaving tools using methylated spirits and throws a large cloth on The Man, fastening it loosely around his neck.
And he begins.
Women don’t have a ‘kawaida’. We change color and length and shapes and form. We always leave the salon a reborn being.Your friends and family always gasp when they see you from the salon, and tell you how they would have walked past you if they saw you in the streets because you ‘look EXTREMELY different’.
A man walks in with his son, about 4 years old. He sits down with his son on his lap and a Barber walks up to him with two aprons (I will call them this). The wraps one on his father, and one on the son. He cleans his equipment and starts shaving the little boy.
“Shshsjsnrhkeofksbsjaka,” the little boy says.
“Mmmmh,” the Barber replies.
“Umeamua utaniongelesha kimasai?” -You have decided to talk to me in Masai?
Children. And he insists that he knows what he is saying.
The Barber cuts The Man’s hair with ninja precision.Classic FM plays the usual classic songs in the background. I am busy on my phone starting off this post as the Barber changes whatever is at the top of his machine like 10 times,touching The Man’s hair with the razor and stepping away and looking at it while tilting his head, shaving of a bit and stepping away….He did this about 20 times. I guess that’s how you know he is doing a great job.
“Sema Sammy?” A guy walks in addressing the Barber.
The Barber raises his head, smiles and goes back to his previous movements.
“Poa sana.Naona umekuja.”
“Sawasawa. Tembea tembea nikimaliza hapa.”
Wassup. I see you’re here.
Yup. I am here.
Cool.Could you walk round the block as I finish up.
I am imagining if this was a salon.
“Sasa Eva. *Said as Iiiva.* Nimekam. Yaani umeanza mtu mwingine? So nilikuambia nakuja 2?”
“Sasa. Ulisema 2 na saizi Ni saa ngapi?Ni 3. Niliona nianze huyu customer ni nikikungoja.”
“Nakuja nimechelewa kidogo tu.Lakini si ungeniambia nisikuje basi.Next time unaambia mtu. Mi naona nitakuja kesho sasa. “
Hi Eva. I’m here! You’ve started on another client’s hair? I told you I’d be here by 2!
Hi, you said you’d be here by 2. What time is it? 3. I decided to start on this clients hair as I wait for you.
I arrive late by just a few minutes. You should have told me not to come. I think I’ll be coming here tomorrow.
Yes,this we can be this petty.
The Barber cleans off hair from The Man’s head and face, and calls in some extremely beautiful lady,well dressed and face made up.
“Sasa,Naitwa Lilian. But unaweza Nikita Lish. Si unifuate kwa sink nikuoshe nywele tafadhali.”
“Hi, I’m Lillian.You can call me Lish. Please follow me to the sink so that I can wash your hair.”
She smiles. I roll my eyes. Urgh. Wait. Who are you? And what hair are you washing ? The hair that should be washed is the one on the floor..Washed off of it.
The Man looks at me with a sly smile on his face. He knows what I’m thinking. And he is amused. While I’m not. He obediently follows her towards the sink. The lady washes his ‘hair’… At least what is left of it and they walk back to his seat. She grabs a tray with a couple of bottles and places it on the counter. She stands behind him and starts to massage his shoulders. Then his neck. The Man has his eyes closed. Enjoying the moment. And trying to lock eyes with mine.She squeezes some oil into his palm and rubs them. Spreads this all over his head and massages it in. I turn to my phone and continue writing this post…
“We can go now.” The Man reaches out for my hand.
I turn my screen off and put it in my bag,grab it and walk out. And I can almost see him smile behind me…And not because I’m walking away…But because of WHY I am. I think I don’t like this barbershop.