Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"you've lost weight"

It's always nice when a normally picky ajumma drops you a compliment. I hadn't seen this particular ajumma for two months: she's my new barber. She was recommended to me, last year, by one of our team leaders (our faculty of about 25 profs is divided into teams, each team with its own leader). Stereotypically loud and pushy, this barbershop ajumma, her hair in a bob and dyed a shocking blonde,* likes to hammer away at my eardrums in a thick, nearly incomprehensible Daegu accent. She's also not particularly subtle about how she treats a guy's hair: her instrument of choice is the electric buzz-clippers; like a weapons-grade lawn mower, the clippers always make short work of any hair, no matter how thick, that stands in their way. For W8000, she's one of the cheapest cuts in town (most salons in Hayang charge a guy W10,000 for a generic haircut), and she prides herself on being one of the fastest. Most other barbers use a combination of clippers and several types of scissors; this impatient ajumma goes 95% clippers and 5% scissors.

"You've lost weight," she declared when she saw me today.

"Really?" I said, wanting to hear her say it again.

"Yup. You've lost weight," she repeated. Music to my ears. "You exercising a lot?"

"I walk a lot," I said, insides aglow. Men and their delusions.

She told me to sit in the center chair, and we began. A few minutes into the cut, another team leader from my department sauntered in.

"What're you doing in my neighborhood?" he asked me, smiling.

"X told me about this place," I replied.

We were done—shampoo and all—in minutes flat. I thanked the ajumma and started to walk out, but the ajumma called me back: I'd forgotten to pay!

"Jeongshin nagasseoyo," I said sheepishly: I'd lost my head. I gave her a W10,000 bill; she gave me back two W1,000 bills. I said goodbye to her and to my coworker and headed out.

This ajumma's approach to male skulls is pretty much "one size fits all." Everyone who gets a cut from her ends up looking exactly the same. She trims the sides of your head until you're nearly bald and looking like Kim Jeong-eun, then she goes to town on the rest of your hair, beating it into submission through repeated bombing runs of the clippers. Then she whips out the scissors, which take care of the remaining unruly bits like a Marine sniper coolly picking off insufficiently wily insurgents. For true satisfaction, you need to let your hair grow back for about one week. On the plus side, such a short haircut means you don't have to return to the salon that often—another way to save money.

In truth, my weight has stabilized at around 280 pounds. I had dipped tantalizingly into the 270s a while back, but I think I've hit a plateau. Vacation makes things worse: I no longer have to do my daily campus walk, so now I have to force myself to go out into the cold. My cell-phone pedometer mocks me: I rarely reach my goal of 10,000 steps. Today, because I had to walk both to the campus and to the barbershop, and because the barbershop is so far away from where I live, I got in 7,000 steps. I might do the final 3,000 later today. Or not. We'll see; I'm kind of busy at the moment.

*Pray tell, why do stylists the world over insist upon styling their own hair in such a way as to inspire, in their customers, a deep mistrust in their styling ability?



John said...

It's early here yet, but this post really made my day. And yes, the haircut makes you look almost like, dare I say it, Kim Jeong-eun's Uncle. Be careful!

Elisson said...

You dashing rascal, you.

It's nice when people notice - and compliment you on - your weight loss. And don't give up. Your knees and pancreas will thank you one day.