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A Peculiar Sensation

I gotta hand it to those barbers at Bruno’s… I am almost always satisfied with the end result when I leave the confines of the shop, whoever the barber may be.

I have no favorites, mind! A haircut can be something of an inconvenience when one has piles of documents and meetings all day long, five days a week.

So whenever I visit Bruno’s, I just have no time to be fussy and wait for any particular barber. I just go with whoever the counter lady points me to.

Almost to the last man, the barbers are so consistent, so utterly professional.

Take Bryan, my barber today. I have had him for about a couple of times only before today, and the last one was late last year. When I sat down on his chair, he merely asked, and pretty much as a matter of course, “The same, Sir?”

I could not even remember exactly the last time he cut my hair; so how he remembered how he cut it, I cannot begin to fathom.

“Yes,” I answered, adding, “Bahalâ ka na; pagod ako at matutulog.”

Now, of course, nobody does harok-tulog when one is getting a haircut. The appropriate thing is to do tulog-manok, just in case the barber has to ask for advice.

I would open my eyes sleepily every now and then, and satisfied that he was not carving a Mohawk on my head, would happily return to my light slumber. At the end of the haircut, it was exactly as Mar, my last barber, did my hair. Incredible!

As is Bruno’s standard service, after the haircut, Bryan reclined my chair, placed a piece of napkin over my eyes so the overhead fluorescents would not hurt them and then proceeded to lubricate my chin and upper lips for a shave.

I am not the hairy type, and in fact I shaved just the other day. A barber, though, must have it embedded in his head that stubbles are the enemy; so I happily let Bryan shave off my two-day old stubbles.

Now, for the tricky part. Not all of Bruno’s barbers do this, but a good number – including Bryan, this afternoon – snip off the edges of the hair inside your nostrils if they start to jut outside.

It is a ticklish, peculiar sensation that I do not particularly enjoy. In fact, I much prefer to do this myself; except that you can’t really know what the barber is up to with a napkin or warm towel covering your eyes.

Thankfully, the nostril-hair trim did not take long, save that tickling sensation continued. I tried blowing air out through my nostrils to push out whatever of the cut hair remained inside. It still tickled, so my hand instinctively went up to poke a finger inside one of my nostrils…

But something inside my head cried out, “Swine ‘flu! Swine ‘flu!”

I hastily withdrew my hand. Wash your hands frequently with soap and avoid touching your eyes and nostrils, the health advisories advise…

“At tiisin ang kati,” they should have added…

[This story was first published on Facebook at the height of the AH1N1 or Bird 'Flu scare.]

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