In contrast to much of the weather we've had in Manhattan since the beginning of April, today was cold with temperatures in the 40s and 50s and wet. The forecast deluge--they were predicting three inches of rain and 45 mph winds--hasn't as yet occurred but nonetheless it was a lazy day.
By the time my wife and I got home from our run and 20 minutes on the stationary bike, we had very nearly beaten the rain, I had decided it was a day to read all dozen or so sections of "The New York Times," to listen to some classical music on the radio and to rest my size-12 slippered feet up on the ottoman. It's not a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday--a good recovery from the noise of the week.
Around three I zipped up my Mackintosh and walked to a little barber shop in my neighborhood. It's a small shop with an Italian name but it's run by two Jewish men who emigrated from Russia when the Soviet Union broke up. Jacob, the owner, was a dentist in the old country, but here he is cosigned to snipping and clipping. He has through such efforts put his son through pharmacy school and his daughter is on her way to becoming a nurse. An impressive American tale.
My leonine mane had gotten a bit unwieldy and I hadn't shaved since Friday morning--and I was feeling a little blue, so I asked for the works. First Jacob got my hair in shape. Weed-whacking my gray until it was corporately acceptable.
Then he inclined the chair way back, rubbed some eucalyptus salve on my whiskers and wrapped me in a succession of towels each one hotter than the last. After about ten minutes, he took his straight edge and, as we say in the hood, "cleaned me up good." With one more hot towel, and a light sprinkling of Pinaud's Clubman aftershave, I was ready once again--fortified--to face the world.
Getting an old-fashioned shave and a haircut from an old-fashioned barber is one of the sublime little pleasures of life. If you're an old-film nut like myself, your mind goes back to Johnny Rocco in "Key Largo," or any number of 1930s film mugs who got plugged while wrapped in a towel.
It cost me--with tip--$60 for the works. A small price to pay for time away from the world and a trip faraway.