If you have been following my blogs over the years, you know there are repetitive challenges that comes from doing this job on the road. The obvious ones: sleeping in strange places, eating strange things or nothing at all and weirdly enough, getting haircuts.
I have written about getting my hair buzzed by Military Barbers in Afghanistan and how I got my life threatened by a Stylist at the Sochi Olympics. Well, this time, I’m in Kuwait, so why not try it out here!?
Our hotel is in a posh neighbourhood in Kuwait City – all the stores around are high-end, like Gucci and Coach. I asked at the front desk if there was a hotel barber. The woman giggled and said no.
After soon asking around I heard there is a famous Kuwaiti barber that has a chair in the backroom of one of the stores in a nearby mall.
Having a few hours between live hits, I made the walk over to the mall. After stopping to ask at a dozen stores, I finally found the one with the barber shop.
I was led down a dark hallway to a small room, there a man was sleeping. The store clerk shook him awake and told him he had a client.
He jerked awake just as I said I would pass on the haircut if he was “busy”.
“No! Sit! Sit!” he yawned and yelled all at the same time.
He was a rough-looking older man with large dark bags under his eyes. He reeked of smoke and coffee and he could barely walk as his feet seemed to be hurting him.
He guided me to an old style barber chair tucked away in the corner of the small room. Neon lights overhead flickered on and off as he tried to rub the sleep out of his eyes.
For those of you who know me, you know I am militant about my hair cutting directions. I started my usual, “a little off the sides… don’t trim the side burns…” When again he interrupted me with a rough arabic accent.
“I know. I do it. I know to cut hair.”
So, I shut up.
As I sat there, I started to look around (since I wasn’t allowed to speak) and I started to see all these black and white photos on the walls. Looking closer I could tell the young man cutting the hair of the beautiful women was this man. So stylish, so cool!
I asked him, “are you famous?”
“Is that you in the photos, where were you? When was that?” I was attempting to pry a little more out of him.
“That was Paris. It was 1973 and I was the hair stylist to the stars. That was at fashion week and I was the best.”
As he finished the cut you could tell he didn’t want it to end. He got out the straight razor and trimmed all the hairs around the edges. Even ones I didn’t know I had back there.
Then he got out the blow dryer. For five minutes he swirled about warming every hair (even though I don’t have many and they were hardly wet).
Blown dry, it was time for the Aqua Velva. I expected a dab here and there but he poured his entire palm full of the blue liquid. He started at the back, then the sides, then my face, neck and HAIR! At the end of it he was slathering my entire head.
“Should I style it now?”
“Sure, I don’t usually do much but mess it up.”
That’s when he went hair by hair putting each in its place. Some go up, some go down. Some strays needed a quick snip. Others needed a sharp brushing.
When it was all said and done, I was gelled, slicked and primped more than I had ever been before. It was good. I was very impressed.
I felt like I had been in the presence of a great master.
He removed the cape and I stood up. “What is your name?” I asked truly wanting to know.
He puffed out his chest, “J’ohn Maroon”
“It was my pleasure to meet you J’ohn Maroon! It was my honour to have met you.”
He smiled, he took my money and slowly moved back towards where he was sleeping an hour earlier.
I looked back as I walked out, he was already asleep and snoring.