09/02 I had my second haircut in Israel, at a place on Bograshov. All the salons are more or less the same here, all charge around 70 shekels. I waited for twenty minutes after my appointment, growing more frustrated by the minute. There were a pair of noisy yellow birds in a cage that didn’t help. The three hairdressers were all wearing black, all had Shoreditch-style beards, and the same shaved at the back and sides, pompadour on top that every man in Tel Aviv under 35 has. I am not under 35.
While I was waiting, people came into the shop, each with the same hairstyle, or man buns, they’re popular here, too, and similar black clothes. There was hugging. A young man, I don’t know why, looked at me me disdainfully, as if to say, What are you doing here? A woman with two small children stood in the middle of the salon, talking to the man who would eventually cut my hair. I’d assumed every man here was gay, but he behaved like he was the children’s’ father. It is possible to be both, I’m sure, and it’s possible my gaydar wasn’t working to its full capacity.
A girl washed my hair, her fingernails too long and sharp for the job. The top of my shirt was soaked. I waited some more, a damp towel around my shoulders, utterly miserable, and thought about leaving.
Finally, I sat in the barber’s chair. Not too short, I said. You want me to cut your eyebrows? he asked. I didn’t.
I told him I didn’t want a parting, He looked at me without comprehension. The music grew boomier, more frenetic, more depressing. Show me, he said, and handed me an oversized comb. I never use a comb or brush, always my fingers, but I combed my hair back, off my forehead, failing to lose the parting he’d been cutting into it. He cocked his head and said, in that way that people do when they think you’re an idiot, It’s your hair, and continued until he finished, simultaneously conducting conversations with four other people, barely looking at what he was doing. The cut took no longer than seven minutes.
I’m used to Huw taking an hour, slowly cutting my hair perfectly, chatting personably, or in silence. Huw never uses clippers. I’d go for a haircut and stay for the company. It didn’t hurt that Huw’s the best barber I’ve ever been to, I’ve been going to him for twenty years.
You want something in your hair? My hair was still wet, there were no mirrors to hold up to show me the back. I just wanted to leave. Come back in a week, if you want me to change any bit, I won’t charge you. I paid, thanked him, and left.
For all its high tech innovation and software startups, it’s impossible to imagine the economy of Tel Aviv surviving without hair salons and phone shops; there are six or seven of each just on my small stretch of Bograshov. I won’t return to this one.
Today’s word: shiroot – service – שירות