Well, I alluded to telling the story last week. So, on the advice of the editors, here it goes.
The intro has changed a little bit, so let’s take it again from the top. Get ready for a three-part series.
Bittersweet Memories – Disappointment in L.A.
Pete is my barber. He’s probably the barber for all of the grubby single guys in my neighborhood, because his is the only place around that doesn’t feature stylists, mandatory shampoos, or scalp massage. He doesn’t charge fifty-five dollars for a shaping – it’s just thirteen bucks a trim – and if you tip him a few extra on top he’ll offer you a sucker from a plastic bin that he swears was blessed by Jesus, Moses, Martin Luther, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed and the Pope.
Nudie mags hide under the stack of newspapers by the door. White hairs sneak out from the canals of his ears.
Every month, I walk the five blocks from my apartment to his shop, where I sit down in his chair, get a haircut and shoot the breeze. Last time I found myself there, it was raining, and the two of us happened to look out his plate glass window at the same time. A pretty young woman, shapely and around the age of twenty-five, walked by underneath the cover of a Burberry umbrella.
“They’re always after me,” he muttered. Briefly, I considered how wise it might be to leave my neck exposed to an old coot brandishing sharpened steel shears – a coot who might, unbeknownst to me, harboring persecution fantasies brought about by “the big red ‘A’.”
“Who?” I tensed, ready to bolt.
“The ladies,” he said, gesturing to the glass. “They’re always after the alimony.”
I chuckled, and so did Pete, but after a while, we got to talking in earnest about women. “You know,” he said, “I came here because of a woman.”
I didn’t know that, and I told him so.
“Oh, sure,” he said. “You want to hear the story?”