The smile says it all. Hey Huddle, you're not nervous are you?
A Haircut In ChinaEver had a haircut in a foreign country? Sounds like a harmless enough question until you consider what a personal and sensitive issue getting a haircut is for many people. Only let that one special barber or stylist EVER touch your head, huh? Well, it's time to expand your horizons!
My first foreign haircut experience was in Phuket, Thailand back in the mid-90's. What an experience! Welchy and Newby looked on in disbelief as I sat down in the chair of an open veranda style barber shop and let the woman have at it. After about 30-minutes the cranium was finished but we weren't even half way through the process. As the straight razor came out I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of this venture. I then had my face, no, I mean my WHOLE face shaved. From the standard cheeks, chin, and neck region the razor then was applied to my nose, ears, and forehead! If you've never had your forehead shaved, you've got to try it. I had the face of a 14-year old but, come to think of it, in Thailand, that wasn't exactly the look I was going for. Then, at 45-minutes the massage started. Sitting in the chair, I had my shoulders, upper arms, neck and scalp massaged for the next 20-minutes - nope, I'm not kidding. Newby and Welchy were getting maximum entertainment and even began to covet my place in that chair. "Awe mate, I'm next." Welchy moaned. There was no time. After 1-hour and 15-minutes I was a new man. I paid the equivalent of $1.50 - best money I ever spent.
Fast forward to present day. I'm a bit nervous but I can't go on as the butt of everyone's jokes at breakfast. I'm the coach. I can't have the entire group of 8-athletes losing respect for me because I look like Joe Bazooka before 8am. With my mind made up, I take the precaution of consulting with our translator and local Dali business genius, Jack. Jack says, "Ok, no problem. I take you on my motor bike." It's 8p.m. and I'm not sure which I'm more concerned about: riding on the back of a motorcycle with Jack at night in Dali or getting a haircut in China. What the hell, you can't live forever and it couldn't be any worse than that buzz cut I got in the summer of '71 when my mom said I looked so cute and my sisters and brothers laughed me into tears.
We arrive at the barber shop on a bustling Old Town Dali evening. Jack's man has an open chair and I'm ushered to the throne. I look around and all I see is black hair. It's in and on everything. The floor, the clippers, the combs, the counters - everywhere. I'm thinking of mutant lice and the origination of some new Chinese virus that I'm about to bring back to the West for the Winter flu season. "Get a hold of yourself!", I think. I notice the barber is balding and, somehow, this makes me a little more uncomfortable but he has a nice smile. I'm sure Manson had a nice smile too. The first clip sounds the start of another journey into haircut history - "Yeah, I remember back in 2001 when I was getting a haircut in Dali, China . . .", I smile to myself at the exotic sound of it.
Well, if nothing else, he's thorough. We spend a solid 45-minutes together, Chinese bald barber and I and, at the end of it, I realize that I've been worrying about nothing. My fear of coming out with some kind of uneven, trapezoid, shaped head is unfounded. It actually looks pretty good. I may have the next virulent strain of bungo-bungo but at least I'll be looking good. I pay the man 10 Yuan (about $1.25) and walk away happy but, nonetheless, a little disappointed that there was no massage.