This past Saturday morning, I mustered up the courage to try it all over again. My hair was getting long, and it was time for another cut. As much as I loved my previous hair cut experience—the grandmas in curlers, the ridiculous book of hair cut choices, the mid-cut gossip and cappuccino session, the cheek and chin grabbing—I figured it was time for some place a bit more….traditional. So I headed off in search of a true barbershop.
Luckily, I found just the place down the street from my apartment. This particularly barbershop falls along my daily route to the train station, so I had been eyeing it for some time now. It has big glass windows overlooking the street, a nice dark-toned interior, and most importantly, from what I’ve seen from walking by, a mostly male clientele.
When I entered the shop, I was greeted by the barber’s wife. She promptly showed me to a chair, and minutes later, her husband came over.
“What do you want?” he asked.
With my slowly progressing Italian, I replied, “I’m American and don’t speak much Italian. But I would like a normal cut, not too short.” He nodded in comprehension.
The cut progressed without a glitch (and no, he didn’t take any breaks in the middle). He asked me the usual questions: Where are you from? Why are you here? Are you a student?
When I mentioned that I was from New York, he said proudly, “You just elected an Italian mayor—de Blasio.”
“Si, si,” I answered, confused for a moment. Everyone just assumes I’m from New York City, so instead of correcting them I just play along.
“But he doesn’t speak Italian,” the barber cautioned. “And his family came over to the US many years ago. I don’t think he’s a real Italian.” A man in a nearby chair waiting for a cut nodded in agreement. “No he’s not,” the bystander opined.
Minutes later, the barber finished up, brush off my neck, combed my hair, and held up a mirror so that I could inspect. Probably the best cut I’ve gotten in quite some time. I think I’ll be a regular.
Update 11/15: According to this story in today’s New York Times, de Blasio does speak Italian. The barber was wrong, and apparently many Italians don’t share his dismissive attitude toward the mayor-elect. Interesting article about de Blasio’s ties to Italy: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/nyregion/his-roots-in-italy-de-blasio-now-has-fans-there.html?hp&_r=0