Sunday, September 18, 2011

devil's haircut

One of the aspects of this trip that I've tried to impress upon people is that it's not a vacation.  I'm a tourist yes, but but this is no week of travel, strange currencies, and photo opportunities.  It's 3 months of work and the everday.  I'm now nearing the halfway point, which in the realm of the mundane and everday, means it's time for a haircut.
Perhaps you've seen me after it's been some time since I've gotten a haircut.  It's certainly longer, but really the overall affect is that some land mammal died on my head.  Somewhere in the range of afro and shag rug- it's not pretty.  
I've been worried about this day since I got here.  There's no way I'd make it 3 months without a haircut, and it's not like the info for visitors and tourists is overflowing with info about where to get a haircut.  What little is available is mostly aimed at people wanting to visit full beauty salons.  I've been Google (perhaps you've heard of it), which was some help.  But, really let's be honest, what I'm looking for is the Singapore equivalent of one of the $15 haircut places in the US.  I don't want to look like a clown the rest of the time I'm here, but I also don't want to drop $200 on a haircut.  
But trusty Google (courtesy of some expat forums updated over a year ago), and I find something I think will work fairly close by.  Just FINDING the place was a victory, and I'd been hating my hair so much that there's no way I'm going to risk anywhere else.  
Haircut is $30 to start.  Adding shampoo is another $5, and adding a full shave is a bit more.  Since I'm planning on doing some tourist stuff after, I spring for the shampoo.  This $35 is quite possibly the most expensive haircut I've ever gotten in my life.  
All looks good as I sit down.  Normal haircut chair.  Normal mirror.  Normal haircut looking supplies.  Okay, so far so good.  
My barber looks at me:  "shorter?" 
Her English is...spotty.  This is going to be trouble.  I have a hard time describing what I want to the haircut places in the US- now I'm going to have to do it through sign language and rudimentary language.  
I try to give the general idea of what I want.  Complicating matters is the fact that once my hair hits a certain point, I have to stop styling it like I normally do (meaning that instead of making it short and spiky at the top, I start parting it down over my forehead a bit).  She will of course think that's what I normally do and want, only shorter.  I manage to give her the general idea of what I want- I think.  She points at the sides of my head "clippers.",  then at the top of my head "scissors."  I anxiously await the apocalypse of haircuts to begin.
I'm looking at myself in the mirror as she goes.  If it starts to go horribly wrong, I can stop her, but don't know how well that would go.  Thankfully, she's doing okay.  All right.  Not too shabby.
All in all, she does a good job.  Originally it's a bit too long on top, but some more scissoring fixes that.  Sweet.  This went well.  Much better than expected.  Hot diggity, I can be on m....she's not done. 
Now she walks over with a straight razor in her hand.  The kind straight out of Sweeney Todd or old timey barber shops.  As in a long razor on a flip handle.  As I don't live in movie land, I have NEVER used one of these.  But...interesting.  Okay, let's go with this.  I'm paying $35 for this haircut, let's get my money's worth.  Little bit of shaving cream on the back of my neck and sideburns.  Ah- just going to get the parts that most places would get with clippers, but whatever.  Schwick schwick (that's the razor sound).  I'm not going to switch to a straight razor anytime soon, but something to add to the list of things I've done.  Shaving cream is a little cold..and...huh...there's some on my ears.  Maybe she's just....nope, she's shaving my ears.  MY EARS.  Little bit on the top, and the ear lobes.  Now clearly I needed a haircut, but come on now.  My ears did not require shaving.  That's just bizarre.  And the haircut continues.
With a newly cut and totally dry head of hair, she now squirts some....I dunno...onto my head.  She must have emptied half the bottle on there.  My head was dry, but it quickly foams up- I'm guessing this is the shampoo part.  The shampoo part, you may be interested to know, consists of more than just foaming up my head.  No- it also apparently includes a full on head massage.  She is massaging my temples, kneading my head, and overall tenderizing my brain.  This continues for a bit, and now she's massaging my shoulders and arms.  
I've been told that a pedicure is more than just getting nails painted.  That it includes some foot massages and such.  My guess now is that this haircut is the equivalent.  
She finishes up, ducks my head back into the sink by the mirror, and rinses out the foam.  Time to go.
Ah- not so fast.  One last step, apparently.  Off the shelf nearby, she grabs a brown glass bottle, shaped something like a flask.  It looks like some sort of medicine bottle from the 1890s. There's barely any label- I'm trying to look to see if there's a "Heroin is Good for You!" label.  She dashes a bunch onto my hair and rubs it around.  Now I see the label:  Hair Growth Tonic. 
WHAT ON EARTH.  Who USES that?  For real- how old IS that bottle?  Jesus woman!  I've seen enough Bugs Bunny cartoons to know my hair is now either about to immediately fall out, or grow instantly and turn me into Bigfoot.  And now it's seeping into my scalp.  Why on earth would I need hair growth tonic anyway?! I still have my hair!  What if it's poisoned now!?  

I'm keeping a close eye on it.  But you know, overall the haircut turned out pretty well.  I'll need at least one more trim before I go home, and I'll go back.  And maybe even sooner than a month, if a certain tonic actually works.


  1. If you find you have a small garden growing from your head & the next time you see the barber, she uses a tiny lawn mower to cut your hair & you hear "Barber of Seville" then you know it was actually Bugs Bunny in disguise. And the "hair tonic?" It was Miracle-Gro.