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Mexican Living: Haircuts, Doctors, and Things


There is a universal, absolute, immutable, infrangible, and inviolable fact of the universe (like gravity and bad breath) that one rarely considers: No matter what you tell your haircut person (notice how nonsexist that was) about how you want your hair cut it will NEVER come out the way you want it, EVER!

You will get the haircut the person who is cutting your hair wants to give you.

This has always been true since Adam first asked Eve to cut his hair and it came out looking like the raccoon he just named. This is true. It's in the Bible.

This has always been my experience whenever I went to the barber in the United States. He or she (there I am again acknowledging both sexes) would ask me how I wanted to have my haircut. I would mumble something incomprehensible, to which they would always say,

"Alrighty, let's see what we can do."

In addition, it would come out looking like the haircut person wanted it to. I would tell them thank you, pay them a fortune, and walk out with my head hung low.

Now, imagine, if you will, having to try this in Mexico in Spanish! It is the same here. They ask you how you want your hair cut and you have to come up with an explanation.

I prepared diligently for the day I knew would eventually come. I had this Spanish book with a dialogue in it called, "Let's get our hair cut!"

I memorized the pertinent vocabulary. I even practiced hand gestures in the mirror to pantomime how short I wanted my hair and where to cut and how much. I had this down to a science and was confident that I was finally, for the first time in my life, going to get the haircut I wanted. You see I thought, stupidly, that somehow it would be different here.

So, my wife and I went into the hairstylist place. She went, not that she needed a haircut, but to hold my hand.

I told the haircut person, with unfailing linguistic accuracy, how I wanted my hair cut. He mumbled something back to my clear and succinct Spanish that I did not understand, and then got to work.

When it was done, I put on my glasses. When I looked into the mirror, I looked like a taller and slightly skinner version of Drew Carey.

I pulled my visor over my head, paid the guy, and slithered off.

I let it grow out and tried this again only with a different "establishment." This time it was a woman who cut my hair. I went through the whole routine again. Only this time, I contacted a fellow expat, who is a fluent Spanish speaker, and got haircut-explaining lessons from him.

I was even better prepared.

I went through the ordeal but came out looking like a fatter version of Justin Timberlake.

This is when the universal law of haircutting was first firmly established in my mind. No matter where you go on this planet, you will always get the haircut the haircutter THINKS you want and there is nothing you can do about it-ever!

I knew I had to do something. I couldn't afford to go to the United States just to get a haircut.

What I now do is take my passport with me to get a haircut. For my passport picture, I had my head shaved to a velvety shrub. I could use my head as a brillo-pad.

This has been working every time. This leaves no room for creative license for the haircutting person and it comes out exactly as I want it each time. It is foolproof!

I am happy. My hair is happy. It is one less worry. Except try going to the doctor and explain how you have the painful and embarrassing itch of hemorrhoids.

Doug Bower is a freelance writer and book author. His most recent writing credits include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Transitions Abroad. He lives with his wife in Guanajuato, Mexico.

His new book, Mexican Living: Blogging it from a Third World Country can be seen at http://www.lulu.com/content/126241


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