Ah, the adrenaline. Will she nick my ear? Will she make my scalp bleed? Will she twist my neck? She grabs my head as if it were a bowling ball and pushes it around as she pleases. At some point she mumbles something and elbows me, but I can’t hear her. The look on her face tells me she’s a 50 year old member of the Volksturm, about to knock out a T-34 tank with a Panzerfaust.
She’s not of course, she’s a hairdresser in Slovakia. The woman may have been insprired by the cynical Bernard character in the brilliant series ‘Black Books’. During the whole ordeal she doesn’t say a word, except for some mumbling. And at the end she asks: ‘Môže byť?’ or ‘Is this ok?, literally it means: ‘Can it be?’ Well, I will certainly have to let it be, let it be, hair-cutting fury comes to me, whispering faint words of complaints, let it be, let it be, oh, let it be.
Her dull pair of scissors goes through my hair like some mad hornet. She has this odd way of holding the scissors so that the handles constantly bump into my neck. Tap, tap, tap. Is she preparing me for the walk of shame?
Have my sins finally caught up with me? Must I kneel in front of the Mother and atone for my evil doings? There’s none of the infernal small talk that’s obligatory in Belgium, as though it were incorporated in the price. Perhaps it is, because the aggressive haircut costs me 50 percent less than the gentle haircut marinated in small talk in Belgium. No silly questions like: where are you going to spend your holidays? Oh, my, you have a lot of hair, doesn’t it get warm in the summer? (It doesn’t). The hairdressing salon is also the only of its kind I’ve ever come across where you can’t just walk in. You have to ring the door. She lets you wait a good deal. Then jerks open the door and basically asks: ‘Ow God, an other one who can’t stop his hair from growing. What do you want?’
When I come home my wife says : ‘You look like an American soldier that was killed at Pearl Harbour.’ A clear indication that: A) The hairdresser did a botched job B) My wife has fallen victim of my history obsession.
When I tell my sister in law about it, she yells: ‘Welcome to Slovakia!’ Abram Muller, THE expert when it comes to Slovakia often says: ‘Slovakia is an honest country, if the waitress is having a bad day she won’t put on a fake smile, she’ll let you feel she’s having a rotten day. Slovak life is life stripped off its artificial niceties’.
On the bright side: it was cheap, the hairdresser didn’t hitchhike me as an on the spot therapist (I all too often let people stick their needle in my inner lake of empathy, free of charge) and the whole process made me remember a Nirvana song, Floyd the Barber.