East Side Day Drifting

[I meant to post this on Friday, whoops!]

3:30pm, Wednesday

I picked an off hour to get my haircut.  At least that was the hope.  I hated waiting, even though, generally,  the free-flowing back and forth barbershop talks made time fly by.  It was a matter of engagement.  Find a thread and tune in.

Someone would talk about Obama and so-so Republican this, and that.  Someone else would be talking about the latest sporting event, currently the Texas Relays, and how their teams were doing.  And another dude would discuss what Houston rapper (Z-Ro) was, in fact, the most under-rated rapper in the industry.

As planned (and prayed for at my office desk), there was only one body between me and the fresh feeling low cut on a 75 degree day with light wind.  Perfect.  Cool, but not too cool, and clear skies with just the right amount of sunny heat.

I really just needed a line-up, a straight blade razor to frame my face inside the boarders of my hairline.  But my barber, on the days when I could catch him with a reservation or waiting line, convinced me to take a bit off all around.

I told him, low but not too low.  I didn’t want to see my scalp.  Lately I had been worried that cutting it too low might make catching signs of baldness all but impossible.

So off my barber went, buzzing and clipping away.  It was really a great day.  The shop’s front and exit doors were open, taking in the assorted sounds around 12th and Chicon.  I was in the East side of Austin, formerly what would be considered by some the “other side of the tracks.”

Since I’d lived in Austin, my only substantive memories of the East side were for haircuts, church, and occasionally chopped BBQ sandwiches.  The kind when even though wrapped tightly, the grease still showed on the brown paper bag.  The kind that, within 30 minutes of eating, guaranteed, you caught a case of the Itis (i.e. DEEP food coma).

So I should add smells to what I was taking in as my head was being worked over.  Because across the street and down a ways, less than a minute, there was a BBQ shop doing brisk business.  The sweet smokey smells of southern tradition drifted out of the building and radiated in every direction.

I found myself lost in the din of conversations around me, with the cacophony of hip-pop blaring from the shop’s surround sound system, and the whizzing of the clippers next to my ear.  I gave in and this world enveloped me like a unborn baby in the womb.

“This,” I thought,”is a moment worth capturing.”  The BBQ smells from across the street were mixing with the smells of the shop, the Kools on a few patrons breathe and clothes, the Church’s chicken someone had brought in, and various sprays needed to give black hair that fresh-cut sheen and smell.

My senses were fulfilled, and I wanted nothing more at that moment.

//A.J.

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