I rode down to the barbershop and realized that ever since I admitted I was a drivaholic and began biking everywhere, I’ve spoken with a lot more people. Bikes make you speak to people even if you’re introverted, as I am.
I sat down in the chair. “What would you like me to do today?” the lady barber asked.
“Give me some more hair.”
“If I could do that I wouldn’t be standing here,” she said. “I’d be relaxing on my own private Hawai’ian island.”
“In that case make all the white hair go away.”
“It’s not white. It’s gray. And they are highlights that mix in with all of the red, brown, and gold colors naturally in your hair. People pay hundreds of dollars to get their hair to look like this.”
“People,” I said. “You mean ‘women.’”
“Well, that’s true.”
“Guys don’t. This guy, in particular. I just want more hair and less gray, like Willy.”
“He’s a homeless guy I met in Santa Monica on Friday.”
“Yeah. Now that I ride everywhere, I am tired all the time. So I stopped and got some coffee and this homeless dude wrapped in a blanket came up and asked for a dollar, so I gave him five.”
“Oh my goodness. You know, if you give money to homeless people they just spend it on drugs and alcohol.”
“Kind of like the kids here in PV and their parents. Only their drugs cost a lot more than five bucks.”
“Was he appreciative?”
“I don’t think so. I hope not. But we chatted a bit. He was like, ‘Man, I’m rich now.’”
“’What’d you do before you were homeless?’” I asked him.
“’I don’t remember, it was so many years ago. But the last time I got homeless, you know, I got four strikes and was out.’”
“’Four? I thought there were only three.’”
“’I had a good landlord. Or a crappy ump. Anyway, I was living large. Section 8 right over there, smack in the middle of Santa Monica.’”
As soon as I said “Section 8” all the Trumper barbers tensed up, trying to pretend they weren’t listening. The barbershop got completely silent except for snipping sounds and me.
“’Yeah, my first strike was a couch. I dragged it in off the street but didn’t check it too good. Turns out the bottom was covered in bedbugs and they infested all the apartments. Landlord had to spend thousands to fumigate and exterminate those little fuckers. He wasn’t too happy.’”
“’I guess not.’”
“’Then strike two was, you know, I spent a long time killing all those bedbugs with my thumb. They’d be climbing on the wall and I’d squish ‘em. Problem is the walls was white and the bedbugs was all full of blood, my blood, and they’d leave a big red gooey splotch on the wall. The whole apartment was covered with these brown splotches so my landlord wasn’t too happy about that.’”
“’I guess not.’”
“’Can’t really blame him. He was a good sort.’”
“’Strike three was the cats. We was allowed two cats so I had two cats, right? One was a girl cat and she got pregnant and decided to have the kittens in my underwear drawer. They was pretty cute. I loved them kittens but there was nine of ‘em. Nine plus two is eleven.’”
“’So the landlord comes in one day and I’ve got eleven cats and they had crapped a bunch and he wasn’t too happy about that.’”
“’I can see that. Strike four?’”
“’I missed rent. $35. Couldn’t find it nowhere, so he evicted me.’”
“’How long ago was that?’”
“’Two years ago. But I’m okay now thanks to you!’ He smiled at me and flashed the fiver, so I figured it was okay, you know?”
My barber wasn’t much of a Trumper. “That was nice of you. I hope I get at least a five dollar tip,” she said.
And she did.
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