Sunday, February 22, 2009

Darren accidentally gets his hair cut at a 'massage' parlour?

Really, the title says it all, but for those interested in the details, read on!

I’ve been meaning to get my hair cut for the past week or two, but I haven’t really had the time. I could have gone to a place closer to where I work and live, but there is a good place further south and east. My friend Xander recommended the guy and though it was a bit of a walk, it was worth it. This is not because he was a great barber (he seemed good enough), but because he was such an odd amusing person. He would speak with a gruff bravado and make odd comments depending on what you said. Example: He has lots of currency on his walls from various places. So I said something like must be a lot of money all added up. He replied “I’m a lotta money.” He wouldn’t say this with a smile or utmost seriousness, but just say it. I really wish I could attach an audio clip of what he sounds like because it really makes the scene. It was hard not to laugh (which I did later). The other thing that was very amusing is that when I gave him a tip after he cut my hair, he said “You’re a good man” and gave me the tip back! Whaaa? So, amusing but odd haircut and some barber that isn’t after your money – sounds good to me.

With that background out of the way, I set out to see this man (hoping he was open on Sundays because I couldn’t remember if it was Sat or Sun when I got it cut last time) and then my plan was to get some groceries on the way back. After the trek there I discovered he was not open. Boo urns! It wasn’t an entire loss because I got some exercise and I listened to several podcasts (mainly The Current about Carter & the Middle East, Ignatief and Al-Jazeera English seeking Canadian broadcasting). I hoped all wasn’t lost so I set out up Bank (on my way to Hartman’s – the grocery store) in search of a place to get a haircut.
No luck. Places were non-existent or closed. I chose to give it another block or two and walked past the grocery store in a last-ditch effort to find a place. (Odd how we make little deals with ourselves, eh?) Anyway, I thought I saw a place and crossed the street. Annnnnd closed. Bah!

Well, I guess that was that then. I started to walk to the grocery store. Then, about 3 stores down, there was another place that was obviously a hair salon. Looked a little fancy and more oriented towards women, but after seeing a sign that said “haircut and shampoo - $15” I thought I’d try it. More than I like to pay because I really don’t require much but my options were limited. Inside there were four people, two women, two men, all Asian (which I will later come to believe are Chinese because of my rudimentary understanding of Chinese and Japanese). So, I walk in and say how much is a haircut? One woman points me to a wall, almost around a corner. I walk towards that direction tentatively, thinking here is perhaps someone else who does men’s hair in a connected shop. It turns out she is pointing to a coat rack. I then clarified the price was $15 because you never know. Took off my coat, put away iPod, and followed a different woman to the back to have my hair washed. At this point, because the whole place looked like a hair salon, I didn’t think anything was amiss. It did seem odd that there were two guys just sitting around, but I thought business might be slow or perhaps it was family. So, this woman (girl?) who is wearing tight clothes that don’t cover her waist begins the process of washing my hair. Before the water starts I say, “I don’t really need a hair wash, but if you want to rinse it so you can cut it that’s fine” because perhaps that is easier for her. She seemed to not quite understand, sort of attempted to clarify, so I said that I just washed it a few hours ago. Anyway, it was indicated we should do it regardless, so we did. Now, while lying back looking up, I couldn’t help but notice the hair in her armpit. I only mention this because blah blah cultural conditioning blah blah that is unappealing and it seemed odd, just because it is so rare and it might come into play later. Once the hair was washed I sat in the chair and said, “Number 2 on the back and sides and short on the top” which is what I usually have done. She seemed a little confused and looked through a drawer of different sized attachments for the shaver. The fact she looked at the number on each one did not inspire me with confidence. She went to look for a number 2 in other drawers, but didn’t seem to find one, so just seemed to pick an arbitrary size. Now, this seemed odd, but as it was larger than a 2, I’m guessing, I thought perhaps she had some idea of how to achieve the desired length.

Somewhere around this point, the other woman casually asks me if I would like a massage from my current hair dresser after the hair cut. I say, “No, thanks” and then begin to think about the whole situation differently. During this pondering, the girl is doing an amusingly bad job on my hair. I say amusing because she is not lopping off any of it, rather she is going very slowly and using a comb in addition to the shaver, so the issue is that things aren’t short enough. So, I started to see the guys who were in the ‘establishment’ as owners, ‘investors,’ or enforcers. It really did start to seem like some bad 80s movie. But, considering the whole place really seemed like a hair salon, I thought that if it was a massage parlour, perhaps they also cut hair and it wasn’t just a front. If that was true, I could still get a haircut and be out of there. Yet, she didn’t seem to know what she was doing at all. I said it needs to be shorter, and she said she knows, so I thought perhaps she is doing it in stages. But it her technique was so slow. I actually do not have a known memory (save today) of someone not knowing how to cut hair, cut my hair.

During this process, I thought about what I should do. Should I stop her, just get up and leave? Not my style, but perhaps warranted here. Would they ask me to pay? Should I demand someone else cut my hair? The problem is that she had already started, so if I just left my hair would look odd with only half it (poorly) cut. Then again, staying longer might risk even worse hair. I hoped that the situation would resolve itself in my best interests, so I chose to stay (it was interesting if nothing else). Also, would they expect a tip? Why do I even concern myself with such things, no tip! But... should I tip...? I even thought that perhaps the girl would get in trouble as I have no idea what the situation was here. And yes, I had the thought that “If this is a massage parlour, why wouldn’t she shave her armpits? Are other guys into that?”

Moving on.... the scissors then came out. But, from all my past experience, the shaving part wasn’t finished. Here I was a bit concerned because the potential for bad hair seemed to increase. Now, she did the thing where you take hair in-between you fingers and cut the tip, but it was done slowly, without much confidence and it seemed to be done from a variety of angles indicating there wasn’t really a plan but to make the hair shorter.
She could see my concern or confusion on my face (which I probably mostly masked), and I also commented that it still wasn’t short enough. Soon after she said, “You don’t think I’m really a hair dresser?” What to say? For the past while (as this was slow going) it really did seem like an odd game was being played. The way the other guys in the store looked at me, I wondered if they were thinking “Is some guy actually getting his hair cut? Why doesn’t he just go for the massage?” Hard to say because I can’t read minds, but it did seem odd. Like she is pretending to be able to cut my hair and I’m pretending to not be too annoyed about the whole thing (dang Canadianess). Anyway, my reply was something like “well, you seemed to have trouble finding the 2 and you don’t seem entirely sure about what you are doing.” And soon after, “Well... are you?” To which she never replied, yet the atmosphere seemed congenial. ODD!
My current ‘hair dresser’ soon said that the other woman would fix my hair later. In my head: Later? What the hell does that mean?! I should have already been done by now. Further, what do you plan to do in the interim? Practice like on a Chiapet or some hair dresser Barbie?” I actually said, “What do you mean later?”

Well, shortly thereafter, Lynn came by (the other woman), some (assumed) Chinese words were exchanged and she just took over, with the original one watching. She obviously knew way more than the first one, but I wasn’t sure how much. She shaved the back and sides like she was supposed to and then did the scissor trim thing like one is supposed to, but the whole time I was doubtful about the entire situation.
I remember at one point I was commenting about how I wanted to make sure she shaved my neck and she said she has been doing this for 25 years and she wasn’t done. All righty! Of course, minutes later when she was using a blow dryer, ostensibly to blow hair off my head and face, but actually blowing it down my shirt, I did question the supposedly authority and ability that might come with so many years of experience.
Detailed memories are hazy, but I know the haircut finished and then she asked again if I wanted a massage, to which I again declined (now I clear images of a little room with a massage table I saw on the way to get my hair washed), she said maybe next time then with a big smile. I said, “Yeah, maybe” thinking “Yeah, how about Never!” O_o

I put on my coat, made sure they didn’t steal my iPod (who knows at this point) and I paid. I didn’t tip, which was easier because Lynn was on the phone and some guy was handling the transaction (I know, you’re all impressed by ability to take a stand). I got the hell out of there and as soon as I left looked back to look at the outside of this place and exactly what it looked like. Well, it looks like a hair salon. And her card says they do esthetics, nail care, colouring, weddings... etc. I couldn’t help but bust out laughing once I was out of sight and ear shot.
How odd! How incredibly odd!

So, let’s think about this, it is possible it was just a normal massage parlour, but it really doesn’t seem like it. It is possible they were just making a joke or having a prank, but that doesn’t seem right either. They guys who just sat around, or walked back and forth, didn’t seem like the type to hang out in a hair salon on a Sunday. Perhaps they have ‘specials’ on Sunday to which I was unaware?
I forgot to mention that at one point while the ‘untrained’ (for lack of a better word) woman cut my hair Lynn went to the station beside us and fixed her hair and make-up and lip gloss. I haven’t seen this before. Additionally, for guys in a hair salon, they didn’t seem too fashionable.

Oh... huh... I just looked at the card Lynn gave me and, if one goes by their stated hours, they aren’t even open on Sundays. Could I have been right?! Well, anyway, I leave it up to you to decide just what exactly was intended when I was offered the various massages.



Blogger ecb said...

That's right up there with the time I let a homeless man in Kingston cut my hair. I vote you were at a rub-and-tug.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What was the address of the place again, I think a couple of friends and I may check out the place for shits and giggles: we will pretend to be innocent naive Torontonians, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

-- Clare and Camrynn

6:49 PM  
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2:30 PM  

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