Chip off the old bloke

I have made it. Or, this blog has hit the big time. I (It) now have (has) a parody account. It’s called Son. Whenever something unexpected occurs – for example, when he eats a spoonful of ketchup at an inn, thinking it’s special Cornish sauce – he asks me if I’m going to blog about it, and then launches into a parody narration: “When I was a kid back in Finland…” in a thick American accent.

The other day, as we were walking back from the Brighton Pier, he did that thing and then asked me if I was going to blog about it. When I said I might, he asked me what the blog would be about.

And I said, “Well, Son, it’d go something like this.”

When I was a kid back in Finland, there was a barbershop in our building. It was a special barbershop for two reasons. One, it was the most popular one in our neighborhood, and everybody knew the owner. Kids came from all over the neighborhood, and adults even farther away, to get a haircut at this one special barber. And two, he was my father’s childhood friend. And in this case one plus two was four, for me, because I had a special relationship with the special man everybody knew.

Besides being a barber, he made big pieces of art out of yarn, and then started to make fishing tackles, but that’s another story. Basically, he was one of the neighborhood characters. When the kids wanted to play hockey but there was no club for them to join, he started one. Did he play hockey? No, but he wasn’t going to just complain about things, he did something.

Since his shop was in our building, and since he was Dad’s old buddy, he cut my hair. Mom would tell me to get a haircut and I’d walk into his shop the same day. It was a day I looked forward to and dreaded at the same time. I looked forward to it because it was kind of cool to go there, because he always had great stories and he was a lot of fun. I’ve never been a fan of getting my hair cut, so even though it was fun to ride the barbershop chair up and down a few times, and a little bit exciting and even flattering to get a “shave” – he flipped his trimmer upside down so I heard the real sound – and a splash of his special “Superman cologne”, it wasn’t that much fun.

Because just as those rituals repeated themselves every time, there was another one he didn’t know about. Every time, after he’d cut my hair and blow-dried it, I’d go back upstairs to our apartment, have a look at myself in the mirror and think that I looked like a girl. It was the blow-drying that did it, I think, but I couldn’t just ask him not to do it, so instead, I’d wet my hair and mess up the new hairdo.

“That’s it?” Son asked me.

“Well, no, I was just thinking that you guys, you and your friends, don’t seem to care about things like that anymore. Looking like a girl, I mean. You’re just you,” I said.

The reason I was thinking about the barber and looking like a girl was something that had happened at the Brighton Pier earlier. They had one of those head-into-a-hole cutouts, of a mermaid and a diver. Son saw it and stuck his head in one of the holes, Daughter in the other.

Just as I took a photo of them, someone walked behind us and said to a friend, “Look, there’s a bloke who’s a mermaid” in the most English of accents.

Now, I don’t know if he thought it was weird, or if it was just an observation.

Either way, he was right.

The bloke/mermaid thought it was very funny. Even worthy of a blog post, he said.

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