Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Mama-sans, Nightclub hostesses and Mal-rocker

I just had my haircut today. No big deal actually, considering that I have it at about the same time every month. Sometimes when I go back to office the next day, some colleagues would ask, “Wah, you cut hair har” (no, some who asked are not aunty…although it is more often so) and I would reply, “No lah, hair dropped lah…” And I could follow that with a mischievous smile, wider if the recipient is younger (no, I am not flirting, just having some clean fun I know I am entitled to). I swear I didn’t start it, but it sure beats most answers.

Anyway, back to my haircut (err…was I actually ever away?). For one reason or another, I decide against visiting my barber, who is Malaysian, single and suspected-gay (it’s the way he moves and touches my shoulder). He is a chatty one, likes talking about his younger days in a posh salon, designing outlandish, erotic hairdos. I never did have the courage to ask him who was his customers - mama-sans and nightclub hostesses perhaps? That he got outrageous sums of tips seems to suggest so. No way is the actually-rich so generous to their hairdresser - that is how they get rich, you see.

It hides at one corner of the mall – the Malay barbershop, that is. I looked through the glass door, only to see a Malay guy with a neat goatee, dressed in a long-sleeved blue shirt in the centre of the room - well almost. I thought the Malay barbers must have “upgraded” since my last visit. I opened the door to see a sparingly furnished shop with a bench against the wall on my right, presuming for waiting customers, and two dressing tables, each allowing two seats to be positioned facing each other, but no Mal-rock. No soaring, screaming guitar strains and anguished singing. How I miss them, though I never understand the lyrics.Instead, the air was filled with a Malay drama from a TV set coming from the back of the shop. That is a first, I thought.

Next moment, I was ushered to an empty seat by the man with the goatee. He left me as his mate took over – a mal-rocker look-alike, complete with flowing locks and drugs-dazed eyes. But there was an artistic, benign aura about him. And my new haircut was his masterpiece, I suppose. As for all creations, time and patience are omni-potent. I have to admit though, that I am never one for either in this cutthroat new economy, especially when you are used to those ten minutes haircut, Japanese conceptual salons sprawling among the housing estates. So here I was, treated to the sounds of Malay TV drama, the smell of cigarette from the Mal-rocker, thinly disguised by the dusty air-con. And I actually start to miss my regular barber, to say the least. My “Michelangelo” really is a man obsessed with his craft, a few chips and chops here and there, but no word, not one at all, from his golden mouth. Most probably, in his mind, my head is only a watermelon with wig on, nothing more. Ouch! How insulting can it get? Maybe I could just sneak out without paying after he finished, just maybe.

PS: Most of the time, we do not know what we have, that is, until we lose them.

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