Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I don’t remember if it was once or twice a year. But we’d load up, the four of us boys into Pop’s truck, after taking a picture. The picture was of us all. Four boys with a year’s worth of mangy hair and dad with a beard to match.

We’d drive four or five blocks down to the barber shop by L&S Foodland. Years later I’d work at L&S, which hadn’t been updated since before we were even children. The strip mall the barber shop were in was in disrepair in 1986. And even more so a decade later when I’d push baskets through the potholed lot.

I’d usually walk down to that same strip mall to get beans or olives or whatever else a recipe called for that we didn’t have in the cupboard. I’d pass a laundry mat and dream about taking my clothes, which we hung dry, there to the crumbly laundry mat, breathe in the chemical scent and know once I put them in the dryer they would smell fresh and they wouldn’t be stretched and they wouldn’t be frozen from the moisture in them when the nights got below zero and they wouldn’t be faded and the holes would fix themselves and they would not be hand me downs or inexpensive or practical and the elastic in my sweatpants wouldn’t be broken.

But on this day, my dad would drive. Past two stopsigns and lady pushing her buggy through the potholed lot.

There were two ladies who cut hair there. They would see us running up, trying to make sure we got a seat to wait in that had a magazine. Usually a months old Field and Stream. The barbers were an older lady who was probably in her sixties and a younger one in her late twenties. I’d always hope to have the younger one, who was in my mind the most beautiful unisex haircutter of the ages. 75% I’d end up getting the older one. Who would fidget with my head for 15 minutes as we’d all watch Mama’s House on a 13” television, in a strip mall, watching people walk through the parking lot with their bags full of beans and olives, trying to avoid the potholes.

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