For three or four weeks now, I’ve been wanting to get a haircut. By American standards, I already have pretty short hair; but I decided very early on in my internship that I would get a haircut while in Salone. Not only that, but I decided my new hair style would be that of the typical Sierra Leonean man: The buzz cut, or “Tolon Peppeh.”
So yesterday, I walked down from the Awoko office with a colleague, Ophaniel Gooding, to T-Unit Barbershop, named so as a parody of the American rap group, G-Unit. Considering how comparatively rough and long my hair was, I probably should have gone to a barber shop which had a buzzing machine; but T-Unit is an old school barbershop, and my barber, LP (aka Lover Boy), took down the animal that was my head of hair with small blades, no bigger than my thumb.
While LP normally goes through one or two blades per haircut, it took a whopping six blades to get through mine. LP started off by snipping off as much hair as he could with a pair of scissors. That wasn’t too bad, but once LP switched to the small blades, the real battle began.
I wasn’t expecting my haircut to be completely pain-free; but boy, I was initially taken back at how much it actually hurt. LP had to be quick and firm to shave my head, so it was a rough go from the first stroke.
Before I knew it, there were a couple of spectators watching me get my hair cut. I suppose it was an intriguing sight to see a “white man” getting a Salone-style haircut.
Anyway, after LP finally concluded his strenuous scuffle in shaving my head, he triumphantly raised his arms in the air and declared, “Six blades. We’re done!”
I was smiling throughout the entire experience, despite the fact that it was pretty painful at times. But the inconvenient sting of the blades was kid stuff compared to what followed: The aftershave spray.
LP reached for the bottle, turned to me and smiled: It was a giant grin, as if he was happily going to get back at me for putting him through the agony of cutting my crazy hair.
“You ready for the magic?” he asked gleefully.
Before I could even respond, LP began spraying the ointment of doom on my already fleshy scalp. Overwhelmed with piercing pain, I uncontrollably let out a seething scream, which I’m sure everyone outside the shop heard.
“OH MY GAAAAAHH!!!!”
I quickly settled down after LP powdered off my newly buzzed head; but shortly after – without any warning – he slapped on some rubbing alcohol, and my head ignited into imaginary flames once again.
A high-pitch yelp with plenty of laughter mixed in must have been an entertaining sight for LP and the spectators, especially Ophaniel.
“I wish I would have videotaped you during that,” Ophaniel said later.
We walked back to the office and were greeted by astonished looks and shouts from the rest of my coworkers – the flabbergasted look on the face of my editor, Mr. Kelvin Lewis, was absolutely priceless.
Not only did I get my haircut yesterday, but I also bought a knit hat and an Africana shirt at the Sewa Grounds (I have yet to partake in the African tradition of wearing customary African garments on Fridays).
I guess it’s better late than never; and as I enter my final week in Salone, I feel that I’ve started to become a real “Salone Borbor.”
By Yu Nakayama