The barbershop is like a shrine of sorts. The barber is the priest. We are the flock. A Demi God of sorts. Something about knowing the hairs on your head. And nape. A barber automatically knows when you’ve been to another barber. You can not commit barbultery without him knowing. He is all seeing. And he takes hair seriously. He has to, it’s his business. Hairy business if you ask me. But let’s shave straight to the point. You will go there on a lazy Sunday. A Sunday that just wants to sit all day. Watch television. Eat pringles. The cheese flavored ones. It will be watching a cop show. In its pajamas. Letting the door bell ring till a guest gives up and walks away. Lazy Sunday.
On that Sunday you will walk into the barbershop. You will wait your turn. Engage in mindless banter. Men banter. Not women banter. Men banter is mindless. Women, well, they mind. They will mind whose husband did what to whose wife. They will mind everything but their own business. Men banter is basically football, women and politics. But mostly sex. Your turn will come. He will hold your head and turn it. Left then right. Like he is trying to cross a busy road. He will let out a sigh. And shake his head.
‘Nani alikunyoa?’ He will ask.
In his voice there’s a slight tinge of disappointment. Sugared with heart break. Peppered with jealousy. He will stare at the other barbers handiwork like a master artist inspects a forgery if his masterpiece. Unbelieving. It will sting. Like methylated spirit on fresh cut heads.
‘Ah hii?’ You will ask. Feigning ignorance. The adulterer caught, red-handed. Deer in the cross hairs. The sitting duck.
‘Nilikuwa nmeenda Narok kidogo alafu unajua iyo vumbi ya uko.’ You will lie. He knows it’s bull crap. But you’re sensitive enough to lie. That’s what matters.
You can throw in a “you’re the best barber I know man.” But that’s just gay. The whole barber thing is gay. Man touching your head. Shit. Dreadlocks are the ultimate man hair. But me, I’m sissy. So I get shaved.
The guy will shave your head in silence. He will have to live with the fact that a barber somewhere in Narok is almost as good as him. A barber without the same opportunities. A barber who probably moonlights shearing sheep. That barber worked on your head. And you looked good. That will give him sleepless nights. His life will almost lose meaning. And a tear drop will roll. And you will feel guilty. Making it up for him with an extra tip.
Alright so I’m at the bar… bershop. Hehe. Sunday evening. Sober. Recovering from the weekend. And I’m waiting my turn. My guy promised to be done in ten minutes. I don’t even know his name. To be fair he doesn’t know mine either. We like to keep it that way. I just know he’s my guy. And he’s good. Legend with the clippers. Guy works them like Rihanna on Drake’s groins. Surgical like cuts. Air strike precision. God bless his drunken hands. Breath so heavy with alcohol it could be triplets. Down to earth guy. Always calls me mzito. The irony. I know. But solid chap. Worth the brass on his shoulder. Whatever the fuck that means.
The banter is on about football. Leicester. Underdog team that came up. Classic grass to grace story. Nerd wins maiden. Heathen sees the light. Happy ending at a massage parlor.
Each of them has their own theory about how they won the league. I don’t have one. I just believe it was hard work. Marinated in good luck. Seasoned with prayers from the players mother’s. And them being faithful to their girlfriends’ and wives. Pretty simple. So one guy says:
“It’s because they don’t have sex.”
There was a pause. Mostly because there was a kid there. Not me. Some lad in a checked white and red shirt. Looked like a catering table cloth. Clean shaven head and sitting on his mother’s lap. I won’t even start with why mother’s should not take their sons to barbershops. It’s wrong. Leave the boy be. Let him have that one thing. With his dad. Or uncle. Or nephew. Heck even the caretaker. Just not you. Standing over the barber micromanaging the cuts. Like it’s a damn curry and he’s putting too much salt. Calm down woman. So everyone naturally turned to the kid. And the mum. The look on her face was silent. She silently wished the ground would open up and swallow us heathens.
“Twende baba.” She said as she got up to leave.
Baba said bye to the guys. We said bye back. In murmurs. And the mum? Well, baba might be getting his hair tweezed before she steps into that place again. Baba if you’re reading this I’m sorry man. You’ll be smelling of hair spray and hot combed hair every Monday morning. You might end up being someone’s gay best friend. Again, sorry baba.
Back to sex. Conversation just got stirred. Steamy.
“What do you mean they don’t have sex?” Some guy asked with an apron around his chest. Leaned back in the chair poised in such an angle that the barber can reach his hairy neck. His voice was crisp. Like a 500 bob note. A new one. Not the 1000 bob. It was just crisp. Like the voice box was Dolby surround.
“Ebu tuambie.” Some other chap chimed in. His voice was high. Pitchy. Sounded like he’d scream during sex. If the cash crop from meru let him even have it.
I watched. Silent. Mostly because I wouldn’t talk about sex. At a barbershop. When some strange man is holding my head. How? Abomination.
“Science has proven that sex drains us…” He started
“Emotionally and physically.” He continued before some guy. A barber , interrupted.
“You’ve not met my girlfriend. Weka apo financially pia.”
I laughed. It was genuinely funny. Other guys laughed too. Agreed with him. The conversation was well on its way steering away from football and sex to money and sex. With guys complaining about dates. How expensive they are. And why women won’t just drink normal beverages. What the deal was with milkshakes and cocktails. The other guy wouldn’t have it.
“The less sex you have the more chances you have of succeeding.” He said.
“I should be a billionaire” I thought to myself. Laughed at the thought.
“So you’re saying if I have less sex I might be more successful?” Guy with the crisp voice asked.
“What about priests?” He asked
“What about them? The answer is in your question.”
“But success isn’t money right?” Guy with a high voice asked. More like stated. But with his voice who knows.
“True. That’s why we are talking Leicester.”
“But if it was that simple si Wenger would have taken his boys to a monastery?”
“And then what? Those boys would still fuck it up.”
“And fucking it up counts as sex?”
“Who’s players are caught in scandals? Only arsenal.”
“But we’re number two now. So we’re having the least sex in the EPL. That’s what your saying?”
“Maybe. I don’t know.”
There was a silence. A pause. A punctuation to the conversation. It swept like a cold breeze. The kind to raise goosebumps.
The conversation was quickly turning into an Arsenal bashing. Not like they are not used to it. But emotions tend to run high. So the conversation died. Naturally. In its sleep as people chewed on the food for thought that had been presented. On some faces you could see deliberation. To quit sex or not. Then out of nowhere some lady. The one that washes heads. Spoke. We hadn’t even realized she was in the room. She had disappeared from our minds. Like morning dew at noon.
“I think that’s why some men die poor.”
And on that note I left. Why? Because Monday.