Queen of the Clippers

It’s funny how we get ourselves into a rut.  We move to a new place and, over the time it takes for the excitement to wane, try to turn our environment into the ‘same’.  We end up buying our groceries from the same supermarket, drinking at the same bars, talking with the same people and generally ordering our lives so that each day seems like every other.  Soon, many of our conversations begin with, “I always buy my meat here …” or “I always do” this or that, followed by some contrived excuse to justify the conformity.

Take getting a haircut, for instance.  How many of us have our own special barber or hairdresser we visit exclusively because he or she does our hair ‘just right’?  Hairdressers can achieve the status of doctors once customers reach the stage of not daring to allow anyone else to meddle with their precious locks.  “Nobody but Antoine touches my hair!”

On the other hand, I chose my hairdresser because she was close to home and cheap.  A middle age Thai lady, I have no idea about her standard of expertise because I’d go in for a haircut then, when I re-emerged, it was cut.  Several young ladies around town who subsequently noticed my trimmed appearance would comment how handsome I looked so the assumption was my hairdresser had done a reasonable job.

Recently, I was beginning to look like Mick Jagger with a glandular disorder and it was time for a haircut to rectify at least part of the problem.  Imagine my distress when I walked to my hairdresser only to notice the barber’s chair was missing, along with all the equipment and trimmings usually associated with a hairdressing salon.  I’d either absent-mindedly walked into the wrong shophouse or something was terribly wrong.  Back outside I noticed the sign was still above the door.  The store owner next door detected my concern and came to my aid by informing me the barber was closed because she had packed up her scissors and combs and headed to Bangkok where the clippings and pickings were better.  Apparently my quarterly 50 baht visits were not enough to sustain her lavish lifestyle in suburban Pattaya.

Panic set in as I realized I’d need to find a new barber.  I walked 30 metres along the soi to another hairdresser, poked my head through the door and asked the people lingering inside if I could get a haircut.  The three katoeys looked at me like I was from Mars.  I merely wanted a haircut; I was not asking them to perform rocket science.  Still the answer was no.  Never mind, I thought, how hard can it be to get a haircut in Pattaya?  After 7-Elevens and laundries, hairdressing has got to be the most popular business.

Even so, two weeks later I was still longhaired and long faced.  The hairdressers I had approached were either too primitive, too expensive, only for women or simply not interested in me.  Then one day I took a short cut home and stumbled upon a small salon in an out-of-the-way soi not far from where I live.  Inside were two people; the female asleep on the ‘shampoo’ chair and the male asleep on the waiting couch.  I woke them with my request and they rose slowly to their feet.  The guy was of slight build, confused and overtly gay.  His hair was dyed auburn, trimmed and spiked into pyramids to form a symmetric pattern over his entire scalp.  He looked like a sunburned durian.  The female was young – I’d guess in her early twenties – and gorgeous in a ‘girl next door’ sense.  Her short, floral frock barely disguised her curvaceous figure.  She had a beautiful face and her unblemished skin shone like satin.  I couldn’t take my eyes off her as she swept and adjusted the chair.  Then she smiled and asked, “It OK I take care you?”

My first reaction was to think, why?  What’s wrong with you?  Are you only the apprentice?  But I simply replied that it was fine.  She and the katoey exchanged a few words and a laugh as I sat in the chair and she draped the cloth around my neck.

“I can make you sexy man,” she announced with a seductive giggle.  Darling, you’d need a tower crane for the facelifts and an industrial pump with a 4-inch hose for the liposuction, so just do the best with what you have.  I smiled at her via the mirror and replied something inane like, “That’ll be nice.”

Talking with her while she did the business, I discovered the katoey was her brother and they were from Isaan, one of my favourite places.  The shop had not been open long and I was their first foreign customer.  I could tell my angel was nervous by the way she gently stroked the back of my neck and ears while she clipped, sending Goosebumps down my arms each time.  Taking advantage of the large mirror in front and the one on the wall behind, I had a full-length view of her so she could be as careful as necessary and take as long as she liked.

The katoey was the first to say it; that’s how I know the comment was sincere.  “Now you very handsome man!”  The goddess looked down proudly at her work while I grinned and stared into the mirror pretending it was my new hairstyle I was admiring.  I would not have cared if she’d delivered me a Mohawk.  She looked at me and smiled.  The katoey looked at me and smiled, then at his sister and his smile vanished.  He was probably thinking she was a rival for my attention.  No, mate, there is no contest because, even if you weren’t a bloke, she’s a lay down misere!

The haircut was fine and the price was right.  I’ve subsequently adjusted my ‘haircut’ budget from spending 50 baht every three months to spending 60 baht every two weeks, compensated by reducing the expenditure on non-essential items like food.  I also purchased some ‘hair growth accelerator’ cream to massage into my scalp.  It is too early to tell if it works on my head but the hairs on the palms of my hands have certainly grown.  Any excuse for a return visit to my queen of the clippers.

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