“Eh?”, replied Maria.
“You know. The same way. Like this.” I’m gesturing. “Um. Tambien. Menos. Shorter”. I’m struggling: waving my hands around my head. I’m in SuperCuts and my stylist Maria only speaks a bit of English. Hey, for $12.95 plus tax, that’s what you get. I know it’s low end, but I usually get a decent cut.
“Ok. Ok.” She understands.
I nervously chuckle and she goes to work. I’m skeptical. Arriva, Maria. Arriva.
Snip-snip. Snip. Snipsnipsnipsnip. She’s working furiously! She’s armed with scissors in one hand and a what must be made from something-as-hard-as-titanium-but-still-as-yet-unlisted-on-the-periodic-table-of-elements comb in the other. Snip-snip-snip. Snipsnipsnip. Even Johnny Depp would be jealous of her speed and form. Then--
She got me. Nicked me with the scissor on the top of my ear.
Emotionless, she says, “Lo siento” and pauses for a second to feign sympathy. Poorly.
Back to work: Snipsnipsnip. Snip-snip. Snip--
“OW!!” Damn it. She got me again!
Apparently she used up all her sympathy with the first wound because she just keeps chopping away.
Then I hear it: “splat”.
I glance down at my vinyl smock. A drop of blood. “Mother effer”, I think to myself. She's butchering me and doesn't even realize!
I look up in the mirror. I have blood smeared across my forehead. She doesn’t seem to notice or care. I'm a slab of beef.
“Wait, wait, wait. Stop!” I raise my hands. “I’m bleeding!”
“Eh?” She has no idea what I’m saying.
“Bleeding!! Blood! Sangre!”
“Oh?”, she finally noticed. She takes a step away. “Oh! I can’t cut joor hair no more.”
“What?” I don't quite understand.
“I can’t cut joor hair no more,” she says defiantly. “Joor blood. Ees not safe.”
I’m shocked and annoyed.
“My blood is not safe? YOU cut ME. And you can’t finish? Because I’m bleeding?”
“No, sir.” She says, unyielding. “Sorry.”
Without another word, she snatches away the blue vinyl smock and hands me a tissue. Now, I’m standing there in the middle of SuperCuts, bleeding from SOMEWHERE on my head, holding a tissue. And: I have HALF a haircut.
Maria disappears in the back. In my mind, I had called out after her: “I thought you people were supposed to be good with knives!” But then I thought better of it, realizing that may actually be a Puerto Rican racial stereotype. Then I remembered the line from The Untouchables: “Isn't that just like a wop? Brings a knife to a gun fight.” Ok, so it’s an Italian stereotype. Useless. Crap. Unable to articulate any type of cultural offense, I slink toward the exit. Defeat.
After performing an in-depth phrenological investigation, I discover the source of the bleeding: my right ear. I apply pressure with the Kleenex and mumble something about The Alamo. Two steps from the door, I hear from behind me: “Um. Excuse me sir?”
I turn around. It’s the receptionist/cashier who tried to flirt with me earlier. A man.
I’m still dazed. Perhaps from all the blood loss. “Hm” is the only acknowledgement I can muster.
“You haven’t paid.”
“WHAT?” I exclaim. People are watching now. “She cut me. TWICE. Then disappeared to your back room without even finishing.”
A lispy retort: “She says she finished.”
I make a face like I just smelled sour milk. Surpised and disgusted.
I loudly sigh and stalk to the counter. I hand him my American Express card and say, “Can I pay half because she only did half the work?”
“It looks fine, sir.” Now, he's going to DARE to get snippy: "If you want someone else to cut your hair, I can put your name back on the list."
"No thanks. I'm not supposed to donate more than one pint per day."
He stares at me while my credit card is authorized.
He hands me the receipt and asks, “Will you be leaving a tip on your card?”
“Look”, I say, still applying pressure to my throbbing wound, “The only tip I’m leaving is a piece of my freakin’ ear. Have fun finding it.”
I hand him back the credit card receipt. He condescendingly thanks me and even chuckles a bit as he says, “Thanks for choosing SuperCuts.”
Laugh it up sweetheart. I’m calling Amex and disputing the charges. I mean, the receipt is signed by some guy named “V. Van Gogh”.