I’ve saved a lot of money on haircuts over the years

Not necessarily through savvy business decisions, or even thriftiness.

I started losing my hair in my early 20s and finally gave up the ghost as I was approaching 30.

My home barber kit was a small investment to make.

I sneak into the shower, pick up the mirror and buzz away.

Lately, I’ve taken it down to the bone with my safety razor, only a couple times where I’ve actually injured myself.


The tiny drops of blood form on the back of my head, and I think to myself

Maybe I should hit the shop?

I hear the voices of Retta and Aziz, imploring me to

Treat yo’ self

So today I think I will.

My choice shop is in the Old Quarter, packed with motorbikes bustling.

The experience of sitting in the barber chair is always relaxing.


I find myself nodding off more often than not, depending on which barber I get.

The shop itself is best described as, uh,


Each barber has his own set of orange coveralls, and each barber knows his craft.

A collection of Li Xi Tet envelopes (orange, of course) suspended by colorful strings swing, lazy from the ceiling, no doubt here for luck.

The space itself is no larger than a living room, dark wood cabinets housing scissors, clippers, spray bottles, towels, and musky aftershave.

Seven barber chairs ewe their way around the room, and an all-too narrow corridor allows customers to pass, only barely.

I’m slumbering in my chair when my nap is interrupted



In these post pandemic days, I worry

is it Covid

But in the space between barber’s craft, I angle my head to the side and see that it’s not illness so much as sadness.

The young boy, no more than nine years old, is uninterested in being here. He complies, only barely.

But he’s miserable.

No words are spoken.

I see his father in the mirror, stern, somewhat uncomfortable.

I know those Papa looks.

He’s a bit embarrassed his son wants no part of a haircut. And the son, being nine years old, has a hard time holding back his emotions, managing disappointment wrapped up in shame.

I make sure to look away without looking like I’m looking away.

Poor kid

His barber continues apace, offering words of comfort. The father stares icily, offering zero words. It’s an uncomfortable dynamic, and I wonder what led them, son and father, to this moment.

Is this an ongoing tug of war? A timeless debate? Is the boy upset about the actual, physical haircut?

Or about autonomy and say in this decision

‘scuse me, Sir. Finished

I’m snapped out of my wonders

Check myself in the mirror, pay the bill, sneak a peek at the sniffler

And, looking without looking

Slide out the door

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. From your own shower to the barbershop to drowsing off to noticing without seeming to look, you take us on a small moment voyage. Great reflection. I love the description of the barbershop- orange outside and in. And I enjoy your writing style finding a place somewhere between prose and poetry. I always re-read for the single word lines. here: whoops/treat yo’self/decadent/orange/sniff/poor kid.

    Liked by 1 person

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