1. Esquire Barbershop
When called, I take my seat on broad black leather, armrests
porcelain, white. The barber swirls a pin-striped cloth
over me, closes it with a band of tissue paper
at the neck. I recite Dad’s instructions about my haircut,
sometimes followed. I am one
of many boys every Saturday, and he has two styles
for all of us: buzz cut or modified buzz cut. When he finishes,
he dabs shaving cream on each of my sideburns, trims
them with his straight razor. Then the final talcum powder brush
for stray clippings before releasing me from the chair. I pay
him a dollar, which includes a 25-cent tip. My “Thank you”
is our only conversation. Outside,
I wait for Dad to pull around the corner, and the two of us to go
to Fitz’s or Parkmoor for lunch
2. Élan Salon
The waiting area, with its upholstered chairs, has coffee, sometimes cookies.
I banter with Mary, the receptionist, whose son is engaged to a friend.
Fresh magazines about fashion and decorating
sit neatly fanned out on glass tables. Mary tells me Lynn is ready
and Audrey washes my hair
before I sit in Lynn’s chair. Lynn drapes
me in dark brown, which matches her smock,
asks if there are any changes I want from last time,
starts cutting while we talk. We know each other’s families,
current and past illnesses, male and female problems,
can talk about anything. An electric razor
buzzes to even up my sideburns. When she finishes,
she puts talcum powder on a brush, whisks stray clippings.
I give her $40, including tip. We hug. Outside,
I climb into my car, go to Starbucks’ and read The Times.
Oasis Journal 2011, Imago Press, p. 245