On Christmas eve, a long haired, bespectacled Sicilian man gave me a haircut. He had full sleeve tattoos and wore a black velvet vest over his maroon workman’s shirt. A solid 5 ft 5inches, he wore vintage round spectacles over a prominent nose that had seen a few too many breaks. His eyes twinkled, and his voice was warm and welcoming as he coaxed me into the salon, and onto a cushy seat before the sinks.
He mentioned a few times how beautiful my hair is, as i got settled, and I explained that i wanted to keep it long, but get a healthy trim, and manageable bangs. Not to be stereotypical, but I’d never gotten my hair cut by a straight man before, and wondered how much of what i was saying was making sense to him.
Jimmy smiled, nodded, grabbed his curly ponytail and said,
“I know exactly what you need!”
Jimmy gave me a spectacular head massage and I leaned back into the sink, letting the warm water wash away 2014 and letting him entertain me with stories of the “Weird 70s” and stupid teenagers with their silly green and pink hair.
Jimmy looked like he could have worked for the Italian mafia in the early 60’s and “gone straight” or “under ground” because of his mob connections. His family hails from Sicily, landing in Boston harbour in 1948 and settling in the North End he explained to me.
He was gentle, and talkative; the way people who have stories are usually.
As he told me about his 19 year old daughter, I asked him what made him get into the haircutting business.
“What do you want, the truth?”
He paused, looking seriously over his glasses at me in the mirror. He held several strands of my hair straight above my head, and his sharp scissors wavered ominously in the air.
I giggled at the implied danger of saying yes, but proceeded to nod my head,
Jimmy leaned close and whispered flirtatiously into my ear with a Frank Slade- esque aggression,
“It’s because I love women!”
He roared with laughter.Jimmy carried on about how he found hairdressing an easy way to talk to women, Beautiful women, and learn about this strange breed of creatures. He would know what to say the next time he saw a drop dead gorgeous woman, he wouldn’t be weird he insisted proudly.
As I let my imagination run wild with headlines about Jimmy the “hairdresser”, and made up stories about the notorious scalper cum Mafia hitman, Jimmy went on to tell me how if he were 20 years younger he would have loved to take me out.
“Can’t believe a beauty like you can be single!”
Jimmy’s disbelief was absolute, and unbelievably flattering.
At the end of it my head felt lighter, my soul felt lighter too, laughing with Jimmy.
I felt beautiful, more for his flirtatious words, than for the actual haircut.
It was my own personal Christmas miracle; I had walked into the salon looking to get out of the rain and a simple, boring haircut. Instead had walked out with a firm kiss on each cheek, a funny little story and a smile to last the weekend.