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A Haircut for Liam

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Given his druthers, Liam would prefer to keep his hair buzzed short all the time. But he's got such glorious piles of white hair, and it smells so good--like sun and wind and cookies. So, selfishly, I let it grow and grow until he looks like an albino spider monkey. He can't get it cut unless I take him.Religious holidays have a way of pointing out such things, and Liam and Phoebe's first Communion is tomorrow, and it just doesn't seem right to let him go into it looking like a haystack. So I took him for a haircut.
Gene's Barber Center is on Third Street in Marietta. It's a great location. Gene doesn't miss much, and he's always watching out his big picture window, speculating on who this or that is, or telling the person's life story if he knows it (and he usually does). Gene's hobby is figuring out who everyone is and who they're related to, and he searches his considerable memory banks for the affiliation of every person he sees on that sidewalk or street. I think I'm a bit of a conundrum to him. He keeps trying to link me up with Sigafoos Insurance Agency on Putnam Street, but it doesn't work. I come from away. No lineage here.
His Barber Center is austere; the decor hasn't changed much in the last two decades. I never go in there without biting my tongue. I would love to loan Gene a few plants for that fabulous window, or maybe hang some prints on the faux walnut paneling. But its austerity is also its charm. Gene rents the place, so why should he fix it up? He's a one-chair man. And besides, all the action is outside the window.
Liam absolutely loves having his hair cut; he loves going to the doctor and dentist, too. Maybe it's because he's the center of attention there, and because he gets messed with. He loves to be messed with.
Even if it tickles.

Gene keeps up a running commentary. Here's a sample, and I think I remember it right:

"That man's got a nice red convertible. Isn't that a nice car? There was a car like that the other day, and there was a baby squirrel only six weeks old playing out in the road, and that car just flattened that squirrel, rolled it right out. The woman driving was talking on her cell phone, and she never even slowed down for him. Wasn't paying attention at all. That squirrel didn't sit up; he didn't get up; he didn't have a chance. The girls next door were feeding him, and he would go up to anybody, and before long he got to thinking that everybody had food for him. So they didn't do that squirrel a favor. They thought they did, though. They thought they were being kind to him. No, sir. That squirrel didn't know which end was up."

We both love going to Gene's.


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