A couple weeks ago I went in for a haircut.
The barber, not my usual one, smelled like he had just recently emerged from a pool of that aftershave favored by elderly terminal alcoholics, the kind of aftershave their own dads wore, whether their own dads were alcoholics or not, the kind they must think obscures, not highlights, the reek of old drunk.
As I took a seat in the chair I thought to myself, “It’ll be okay, this place hasn’t steered you wrong yet, go with it, have faith and the universe will provide.”
Mr. Night Train cut my hair with an insouciance I had never before encountered in a barber. He had chosen to keep my back to the mirror the entire time, so at no point could I see what he was doing. I dug deep into my pool of faith and tried not to imagine the hack job he might be doing up there.
As he cut he told me his life story. He had been a drug dealer years ago, and one of his best customers was an addict weaning his wife off heroin by getting her hooked on crack. My barber ended up stealing away with his customer’s wife, marrying her, having a child with her, and then divorcing her.
He told me this story while gesticulating wildly with sharp objects in his hands. I wasn’t sure whether to follow my own internal train of thought wondering about this woman and did she have second thoughts about the various choices she had made in life, or whether to key in on the tenderness and pride I could hear in this guy’s voice when he talked about his daughter.
Later, when he asked me if I wanted him to shave my neck with a straight razor, I said no thanks.
But it was one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had.