I pop my head into the salon; a fey-looking guy wielding a pair of scissors turns around. “Do you do guys?” I ask, innocently. He looks at me, shock and some embarrassment in his eyes. Perhaps I phrased it badly; this is New Jersey, after all, not San Francisco. “I need a trim” I hasten to add. Relief on his face? “Sure, my friend” he says, motioning to the chair; “sit down, sit down.” I explain how I want it, in very simple terms. It’s a cut I’ve had many, many times before. He nods briskly, as if I insult him by explaining, and gets to work. Cutters used liberally, buzzing in my ears like angry bees, I realize it all went wrong from the beginning. After he’s done, he says “Take a look. Handsome guy, eh?” It’s awful. Buzzcut on the sides, with just a bit left on top; nowhere enough to style, plus, it’s cut too close to the middle, accentuating the roundness of my head even more. My ears stick out like Dumbo’s, seemingly trying to flee this embarrassment. My God, I gasp inside as I realize; I have a reverse mullet! Fearing further follicular damage, I pay up and leave. Seems I was correct after all. He did do guys.
“I need to make a phone call” he says, “can you help me with a quarter?” The laundromat is empty, save for an Asian guy at the back, folding his sheets with the care of someone a few of the same to the wind ; I have a couple of quarters in my pocket.”“Sorry” I reply. “I need to make a phone call” he repeats, as if that would sway me. I shrug and return to my book. He looks at me with anger, as if I owed him a quarter, for some reason. He moves on to the other guy, who gives him a quarter to make him leave. As he heads for the door, he glowers at me, accusation written all over him. “He helped” he says, before he exits. I suppose I could point out that he tried getting money from me the day before, but what’s the point? At least he didn’t yell at me this time. I see him begging from other people; they all give him something. All of a sudden, I feel like a hard man. Perversely appealing it is, too.
“How do you measure things?”“What do you mean?” I ‘m confused; the two look at me with anticipation.“Well, how do you measure stuff?” Oh, I get it. Something slithers across the dirtier crevices of my brain and it blurts out, though with the slightly hesitant air of a question, lacking somewhat in conviction and authority: “With my dick!“They look at me, uncertain of what to say, what to do. Laughter lurks somewhere beneath those faces, but shock too; well, perhaps not shock, merely distaste.“Where you’re from…in feet…or in metric?” he finally says, holding up a ruler to illustrate his point, but it’s too late by far; the words are out there, irretrievable.“Jesus, it’s been a long week.” he mumbles, sounding tired and somewhat despondent. She just leaves, laughing, of sorts, without much mirth. New fucking Jersey.
Today marks three straight weeks of rain, a near-constant downpour, relentless and utterly unsympathetic to the plight of the sun-starved soul. Today is officially the first day of summer. Somebody fucked up somewhere.