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El Gringo by Bald Fade

As I approached the barbershop with loud Spanish music blaring through the open door I caught sight of my reflection in the plate glass and thought "Do I really need this haircut?"

My previous barber had left me with a short if undistinguished #2 buzz that looked ok but not much more than that. If i wanted to raise it above the ordinary I knew I had to take a chance and here was my chance- a newly opened Dominican barbershop in my neighbourhood- it was a chance too good to pass up.

I walked into a different world, a world that didn't seem to be expecting me. Blaring funk music and excited conversations in Spanish slowed as every eye in the room turned to me.

"Take a seat I will be with you soon- I'm just finishing up here" said the lean wiry barber in a heavy accent.

Soon enough he'd styled the previous customer, shook the cape out and waved me into his chair.

Neck strip applied, cape pulled tight in at the neck he ran a hand over the rough hewn buzz and said "You like it short huh? You have come to the right place. How short do you want it?"

I said as confidently as I could "#1 top", "Zero back and sides?" he said eyeing the uneven buzz. "No- I usually get a bald fade" I offered to ensure I got exactly the sharp cut I so desired.

"Oh you want a proper haircut! No problem at all I will make you look sharp."

Snapping on a #1 guard he ploughed the clippers front to back throwing up a light cloud of stubble in its wake leaving a stark contrast with the now shaggy sides. But what hair remained on the sides offered little resistance as balding clippers left fresh skin in its path.

Warm lather soon shrouded the skin an inch above the ear and was ruthlessly removed by the straight razor until smooth whitewalls faded perfectly into the tightly buzzed top.

The shaving brush left more warm lather on the hairline which was lined up into a perfect arch finishing the cut off to utter perfection.

"Nearly there" he said with calm authority as the beard I'd arrived with was pared down into a short thin sculpted work of art.

One final spin of the chair returned me to the full view of the mirror- a different man looked back at me from the one that had arrived an hour before. Gone was the shaggy buzz and grizzled beard replaced by a bald fade & goatee of such precision the cut could have been airbrushed on.

"Short enough?" came the question. Temporarily speechless I nodded as he dusted me off.

My hand slowly explored the perfect cut as smooth skin gave way to stubble to buzzed top. The guy in the mirror seemed to be smiling a broad smile at me pleased with the astonishing new look.

As I rose from the chair the barber offered a handshake "I told you i would make you sharp. You arrived El gringo now you leave a Latino."

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