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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reminiscing After Getting a Haircut...

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It had been some six or seven weeks since I last got a haircut back when I was on Marco Island. My hair now had somewhat of a ragged look about it and I was once again in need of another so-called buzz cut.... number two clippers all around the sides and back, tapered and blended with a little length on the top... military style not that I was ever in the military which is neither good or bad.

Anyway, I think it's a good look for me since I'm on the verge of having to acquiesce to the "double-nickle". Yes indeed... the double-nickle as in the number fifty-five... as in the total number of points that Michael once laid on Spike Lee's beloved Knicks.

I suppose it's a good look especially since I've started to gray on the sides but even more importantly because the cut requires little maintenance and because "I'm on a boat" to reiterate a familiar phrase used here in the Keys.

One recent Sunday morning while seeking out a local Cuban diner for a breakfast sandwich and a "taza de cafe colao", I happened to notice a nearby barbershop. I therefore made a mental note of its location because my hair could certainly use a trim... and the sooner the better. ("Incidentalmente, a mi me gusta el cafe tal como me gusta a las mujeres... caliente, dulce, y prieta"... ooopps.. I didn't really mean to say that.)

Upon entering that barbershop the next day, I am taken a-back by what is certainly some sort of monstrosity mounted up on the wall. I collect myself before realizing that it's not some Mako shark that someone valiantly hooked and reeled in after a four hour struggle at sea, but rather a moose of all things...

Mounted up on that wall was Bullwinkle... as in Bullwinkle the moose featured on many a Saturday morning cartoon show from back in the day when I was a little kid.

Yes, a dumba*s moose... the docile, vegetarian creature described by Bill Bryson as dumber than a cow in his book, 'A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.". Dude... yes you dude... you with all the ridiculous looking tattoos... you need to read this book or else have someone read it to you.

Anyway, all this random chatter about a haircut and of some unfortunate moose mounted up on the wall brings to mind the time when I had first moved to Ennis, Texas some eleven, twelve years ago and was in dire need of a haircut back then as well.

It had been somewhat of a cold winter week by Texas standards when I first ventured into a town barber shop that could best perhaps be described as "old-school". It happened to be a Saturday morning and it seemed as if every gun-toting local senior citizen was in town waiting for their turn to get their hair trimmed... not that they had much hair to begin with.

Upon entering that barbershop I take a seat and then look up to survey my surroundings and sure enough, mounted on every wall of that shop is some sort of critter or another.

Prominently displayed upon every surface of 'dem 'der walls was a bob-cat, a rattle-snake skin, a beaver, a trout, a few Bambi's, a falcon, and quite possibly somebody's pet cat that had gone missing awhile back.

There was even a bass fish mounted up on the wall that could somehow turn its head and talk to you if you happened to walk on by. Nevertheless I'm not convinced that that particular bass came from a real lake. I'm more inclined to believe that it was a fake bass-look-a-like and was made in China to humour all the short-bus Dubya Bush admirers.

Well I happen to be in dire need of a haircut and resign myself to the fact that I'm in for a long Saturday morning wait while I reach out for one of the many dated and worn-out magazines randomly scattered about on a coffee table.

I peruse some old gun magazine and its many gun show advertisements including one from the NRA. I'm then suddenly reminded of what is surely their new slogan... "Guns don't kill kids, Kids kill kids"...

I soon set that magazine down but not before having a sudden urge of wanting to wash my hands. I don't want to lose my chair so I remain seated and instead find myself reaching out for another magazine.

Only this time I happen to pick up an old issue of Car & Driver... I seem to recall getting instant "tired-head" after reading but a paragraph or two of carburetors, brakes and suspension systems and whatever so I set the "Car & Driver" mag down as well and reach out for yet another magazine.

I'm not the least bit interested in picking up a dated issue of "Hunting" and I quickly flick that one aside and instead pick up an old issue of "Fishing" or some-such...

At least this magazine has some alluring pictures of streams in Idaho and Montana where fly-fishing is an understandable passion. I'm reminded of the captivating movie with Robert Redford, "A River Runs Through It".

(Note to all you under-achieving, confused adolescents perpetually gulping down obesity sodas and wandering throughout cyberspace... watch this movie and get a perspective of some sorts of a time and place that only your grandparents can readily recall... Hold on a sec while I pop open another brewsky... sploosshh)

The fishing magazine holds my interest for a short while when to my surprise I happen to uncover an old yellow issue of "National Geographic" from underneath a pile of "Popular Mechanics" magazines.

No sooner had I thumbed through the first few pages of that old issue of National Geographic when I'm suddenly captivated by what was no more than a half page article about a town with the lowest zip code number in the US Postal Service database.

It is an article describing in some detail the remote and mountainous region of Adjuntas in Puerto Rico. The article goes on to describe the annual patron saints festivities and how the region was long ago regarded as the "Land of the Gods" by the local Taino natives prior to Columbus making landfall and proclaiming the island and all its possessions as belonging to the King of Spain.

I question whether the local Taino chieftains had any comprehension whatsoever of what might Admirante Cristobal might have proclaimed at the time and find myself distracted yet again of the topic at hand and can't help but think back to a purported incident early on in the NASA space exploration program.

After conducting simulated lunar landing tests one day on a remote and rocky tract of Arizona terrain, NASA technicians approach two Navajo natives who had been observing the proceedings from a discrete distance.

When the elderly of the two natives was asked in jest to record a message for NASA astronauts to deliver to the residents living on the moon, the old Navajo recorded the following in his native Navajo tongue... "Beware of the white man, for he comes to take your land"....

In any event I find myself mesmerized after reading and re-reading that half page article in National Geographic. It's somewhat cold inside that barbershop and I'm wearing an all weather-proof jacket to keep the cold out.

Yet somehow I'm suddenly transported back to a time and place in that mountainous town of Adjuntas that I previously had an opportunity to visit. In my mind I can vividly recall the sheer beauty of the surrounding mountains and of the dense tropical foliage. I can distinctly recall the sweet scent of the earth after an early morning rain shower and the rich aroma of a nearby coffee plantation.

You see, I had jumped at the opportunity to participate in the first national chess tournament ever to be held in that remote town. It is a town now somewhat accessible by the recently constructed "autopista" and a town that I had never previously visited before in spite of the fact that I had lived on the island for a number of years.

It also happened to be a special moment for me because earlier that evening, I had played and won a hard fought game that had lasted a grueling four hours versus the top rated competitor in the event.

My opponent was a highly esteemed three-time island champion who has since gone on to achieve the title of International Chess Master.

It goes without saying that I was immensely elated at having won earlier in the day and it made that beer taste all the better while I and other fellow competitors from that event all joyfully watched the pasofino horses and their attractive female riders parade on by.

In addition to cheering on the parade participants, we spent most of that evening ogling all the hot young ladies wearing their tight fitting jeans and short skirts while dancing to the rhythms of salsa and merengue in the town plaza.

Occasionally a fellow competitor would high-five me yet again and loudly intone my last name... "SSHHAAFFEERR!" Damned that made me feel good.

I've got my eyes closed reliving those special moments when I hear the barber calling out to me. "Your next." I seat myself in the barber's chair while still relishing those not so long ago moments of that special evening in the festive town plaza. The elderly barber proceeds to tie an apron around my neck and perfunctorily asks "well, is it cold enough outside for you"?

I had hardly had a chance to respond when he launches into an endless ramble of how he had once been a sheriff out in some remote, barren region of Wyoming and how I had never experienced what cold weather truly is since I had never been there before.

He goes on to ramble on about how isolated the place is and how bone numbing cold the place can be and how cows and horses and buffalo would literally freeze solid while standing on all fours out on the prairie and how damned cold it was and on and on and on and on and endlessly on...

All the while I've got my eyes closed doing my best to tune him out and I'm clinging on to the last images in my mind of that magical evening in the town plaza all the while wishing that the gentleman would simply just stop rambling on about cold weather. I kept thinking to myself... "please be quiet... please be quiet... please be quiet... would you please shut up already"!

I finally relent on trying to relive that memorable moment and I come to terms with the fact that I'm in Ennis, Texas getting a haircut from some ex-sheriff endlessly rambling on about the cold weather in Wyoming and how I didn't know squat about bitter cold weather.

That ex-sheriff chewed a good portion of my ear off with his mindless monologue that day... now I know how Evander Holyfield must have felt after Mike Tyson took a bite out of his ear.

(Memo to the producers of History Channel's, MysteryQuest television program... Bullwinkle has been located and can be found mounted on a wall inside the "Village Barbershop" on mile marker 50 in Marathon, Florida.)

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