Pat's View: Hairy Experience

By Pat Cashman

While doing things yourself is an admirable concept, not everything falls neatly into the DIY category. Take a vasectomy for example. Those should almost always be done by a doctor---one qualified in that discipline. Doctors of philosophy, letters or divinity are poor choices.

But sometimes even a less risky procedure---done by a qualified professional---can be trouble. Especially in an unfamiliar neighborhood. A true story follows.

A few years ago a friend named Paul went on an overseas vacation. Well, not technically a vacation---unless you enjoy sandstorms and artillery fire. Paul traveled with a TV network that was broadcasting from the war in Iraq---not exactly Club Med.

While Paul saw and heard plenty of action during his weeks in the Middle East, he said he never felt in real mortal danger---except one afternoon in Amman, Jordan. “I have never felt greater pain in my life than I did that day,” he said, his eyes still watering from the memory. “And all I wanted was a haircut.”

Most people don’t associate pain with beautification. At least most MEN don’t. Men stroll into barber shops---or hair salons if you insist---and plop into chairs expecting to enjoy nice, quick, pain-free trims. (My personal preference is for a barbershop chair that resembles a pony.)
Women, on the other hand, are ready and willing to undergo unfathomable agony for hours on end: Tweezing, pulling, crimping, yanking, squeezing, plucking, burning, extracting, steaming, and electrolysis. And that’s just for hair.
There’s a cavalcade of other excruciating female rituals, from piercing to injecting---not to mention the emperor of all pain: childbirth. (If you are a man reading this, comparable pain is getting dragged behind a truck over a gravel road, then getting whacked over the head with a 2 x 4---and finally, skinned alive. Sprinkle on a bit of salt.)

Which brings us to the day Paul decided to make a short walk from his hotel to a highly-recommended Amman barber shop. “Dan Rather (the one-time network correspondent) had his hair cut there once,” someone told Paul. Based on that solid testimonial, Paul walked in.

Right off the bat, he noticed a number of men sitting around talking politics and watching al Jahzeera on TV. There was also a large, covered pot sitting on a small stove in the corner. “Maybe they’re offering fondue with the haircut,” Paul thought to himself.

Settling into the barber chair, Paul noticed the Jordanese barber sharpening his razor with a strop. “Are you, perhaps, from the United States?”, said the man---his eyes narrowing. Paul replied nervously, “Actually I’m from…er…Canada, ” he fibbed. The barber smiled slightly and announced: “Peter Jennings was Canadian,” he noted. “I cut his hair once.” Paul realized that he was sitting in the “Barber Shop of the One-Time Network News Stars.”
Things went along routinely, even serenely---and within minutes Paul was so relaxed he drifted off to sleep, a warm towel on his face. He dreamed of being back home, of pulling up to the drive-up window at Taco Bell, ordering a chimichanga with extra hot sauce---and then…of pouring the hot sauce…into his ear. His ear? Wait a minute! He wasn’t dreaming!

There was a warm liquid being poured into his left ear! And a moment later, Paul felt someone gently blowing into that ear. It was the barber. “Don’t be concerned, my friend,” he said. “I’m just cooling down the hot wax I just poured into your ear.”

Paul nodded, relieved. “Oh sure, the hot wax,” he thought. “Hold it! Did he say the HOT WAX!!!?” Suddenly he realized it had not been fondue simmering in that pot.

Even more suddenly Paul felt a jolt of colossal, eye-crossing pain. It was the kind of searing sting most associated with someone yanking a plug of recently poured wax back out of your ear---along with every hair contained within. What Paul shouted at that moment is inappropriate to print in a family newspaper. Even a Manson Family newspaper.

But almost immediately, the barber went on to torment Paul’s other ear---and then the nostrils---all packed with wax, then cooled by gentle breath---and finally yanked quickly away as if attached to a Mars-bound rocket.

After the second---and only remaining---nostril, Paul rose from his chair, and staggered to his feet---worried that the barber might have other orifices in mind. Paul quickly threw some money down and ran for the door.
But even while hustling away, Paul could hear “Barbarian the Barber” calling after him: “Hey! If you ever run into Lester Holt tell him to drop in!”
Pat was a longtime cast member and writer on KING 5’s Almost Live---which continues to air in popular re-runs Saturdays following Saturday Night Live when they’re not airing an infomercial instead. He is a keynote speaker---and a fundraiser auctioneer---plus he co-hosts a weekly on-line talk show:

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