God, I hate getting haircuts here in Germany.
Every time -- without exception -- the barber or hairdresser or whoever cuts my hair all wrong. Too short on the sides, too long in the front, and the cowlick ignored so that it produces a weird, this-man's-head-has-a-corner effect. My hair is thick-ish and coarse, but not extraoardinarily so. Why is this so hard?
Ah, but: last year I was staying overnight in Frankfurt (early morning flight, so I took the train down the night before) and was walking around the bahnhof / cheap hotel / red light district. I've blogged about this before, yes? It's an immigrant area, full of dollar stores and kebab places and call-Tunisia-for-five-cents-a-minute phone places.
And barber shops. There are a couple of blocks where every other storefront is a barber shop, all run by Turks and obviously serving an immigrant clientele. On a whim, I stepped into one and asked for a trim.
It. Was. Awesome.
- Haircut was cheap: ten euros, or about $14.
- Haircut was fast: less than 15 minutes.
- Barber knew his stuff: hardly any hair down my shirt.
- Barber had NOTHING TO SAY. No conversation, no commentary, no discussion beyond a few gestures: shorter? use the razor here?
- Barber offered only one extra (gel) and, when it was rejected, did not press, or offer cologne or anything else. A light dusting of powder was included free and without comment.
- The haircut looked great. This was no quick-and-dirty buzz cut. The barber managed to cut my hair short without unleashing the cowlick, which is no small thing. I looked terrific.
Why was a cheap Turkish barber able to give me a great haircut when every other barber in Germany charges me twice as much for a cut that makes me look like a complete doofus?
Here's Claudia's theory: she thinks that my hair is just too weird for most Germany barbers -- too coarse, too thick, just too alien.
Well... maybe. By American standards -- even restricting it to white Americans -- my hair is nothing special. But Germans do tend to have pretty fine hair. Perhaps.
-- That touches on something I noticed last time I was in Frankfurt. Frankfurt (or at least, downtown central Frankfurt) has the sort of ethnic diversity common to most large Western cities. Walk from the Bahnhof to the Opera and you'll see pretty much every major human phenotype. I had always noticed this, but only on my last visit did I realize that (1) I find this agreeable at some deep level, and (2) I miss it a little.
Anyway. I can only get my hair cut at the Turkish place when I'm in Frankfurt alone, outbound on a business trip. Since this only happens once or twice per year, the rest of the time I must make do with German barbers. So if you see me and I seem to have a corner on my head, that's why.