Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ethiopia: The Barber Shop: Part 3

Having decided never to get my hair cut by Richardson again, I set out for the barber shop.  I had purposely avoided passing by his shop, but on my way to find a new barber, whom should I happen to run into?  None other than Richardson, of course.  He was buying a Coke at a kiosk.

"Your hair is looking pretty long," he observed.  "Do you need a cut?"

As much as I wanted to lie, I unfortunately told the truth.  Well, I told the truth about needing a cut, anyway, but not about not wanting Richardson to handle it.

In any case, I had made my bed and now I was going to have to sleep in it.  I walked around to corner to Richardson's shop like a kid being led to the principal's office.

I sat in the chair, and he threw the sheet over me and stuffed cotton in my ears.

Then he sterilized his equipment and started cutting.

"What's your name?" he asked me.

Although he had recognized me, he apparently wasn't good with names.

"My name is Chris," I told him, and before he could introduce himself, I did it for him.  "And you are Richardson, right?"

"Yes," he replied.  "My father was from..."

     "Italy," I interrupted, "and your mother is Ethiopian."

"You are right!" he beamed.  "You have a good memory!"

I know it's a bit rude to finish someone's sentences, so I was glad he was impressed and not offended.  In any case, I was afraid he might rehash our entire conversation from the last time if I hadn't stepped in early.

While he had forgotten my name, Richardson definitely remembered at least some of our eariler discussion.  A few minutes into the cut, he walked around in front of me and leaned in.

"Please won't you teach me piano?" he pleaded.

Ugh... Being neither interested in nor qualified for this duty, I explained to him that I hadn't brought my piano to Ethiopia and that, in any case, my skills were very rusty.

Richardson said he understood, but he didn't hide his disappointment.

He continued cutting in silence for a few minutes, but soon enough he recovered.

"How is your Amharic coming?" he asked.

"Terrible," I admitted.

"I'm sure it's because you aren't practicing enough," Richardson replied.  "Start now.  Say anything at all."

I am not conversational by any means, so I started with the basics.

"My name is Chris," I told him in Amharic.

"Good, good, keep going," he instructed.

"I live in Addis Ababa... I am American... I work at the American Embassy," I babbled.

"More, more, more," he urged.

"I want two kilos of bananas...  I ate pizza on Sunday...  There is a red wolf at the zoo," I continued.

"Yes, keep going," he prodded.

"My sister is a doctor...  Do you have raw meat?...  I want coffee with milk," I blurted.

"Good! Don't stop!" he ordered.

Richardson was clipping and grinning, but I was quickly losing interest.  I threw in the towel.

"Thanks for the encouragement," I told him, "but I've had enough practice for today."  "I'm just speaking gibberish."

For the second time in 20 minutes, I had burst his bubble.

For the rest of the haircut, not much was said.  As before, though, Richardson was very pleased with the results when at last he was finished.

He stepped back to admire his handywork.

"Wow!" he exclaimed, "it's so beautiful!"  "You're like a bride before the wedding."

I wasn't sure what to make of this gender confusion, so I ignored it.  As far as I am aware, though, the buzz cut isn't that popular for brides these days.

Unfortunately, as with my first haircut from Richardson, I didn't think this one was anything to crow about.

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