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Mr. Alexander by RicardoBarber

Growing up in a barbershop means being surrounded by the most varied types of clients. Each client is unique and has different stories and experiences. There are customers who visit us only once and never come back, there are those who appear from time to time, there are those regulars who are always around and appear very often and there are those special clients who are always present. One in particular is present in our barbershop there are "four generations". He was Mr. Severino’s, my grandpa’s, my father’s, and my client. He moved to Sao Paulo a few months ago but promised he would come back when he could to pay a visit and cut his hair.

Mr. Alexander Garcia (Young Alex, for my grandpa, Alex or Cousin, for my father, Mr. Alexander, for me) began to attend the barber shop from a young age. When my grandpa started working at the barbershop, Mr. Alexander was five years old and was already attending the shop. He was my grandpa's first client (or the first guinea pig, as my grandpa said). The first time they met, Mr. Alexander had gone to the barbershop with a note from his father saying that the boy needed a very short haircut. Apparently, he had problems at school and the haircut would be a kind of punishment. Mr. Severino thought that would be a good opportunity for my grandpa to train his skills and let my grandpa cut Mr. Alexander's hair. According to what they told me, the cut was a disaster. The back and sides (which had been cut by hand clippers) had bald spots and hair up to 2 mm in length. The top (which had been cut with scissors) had areas that varied between ½ and 1 cm. My grandpa said me that Mr. Alexander began to cry when he saw himself in the mirror, but Mr. Alexander denied that this had happened. In the end, Mr. Severino tried to save the cut, shaving completely the sides and back and leaving about ½ cm of hair on top. Over time, my grandpa improved on the cuts and managed to cut hair as well as Mr. Severino. But Mr. Alexander still didn’t trust my grandpa to cut his hair, preferring whenever Severino did it.

One day Mr. Severino had to travel to São Paulo to buy new instruments for the barber shop and my grandpa stay working at the shop alone. Mr. Alexander showed up to cut his hair in that time frame. Despite the fear of cutting my hair with my grandpa again and ending with something shorter than the other time, he eventually gave in. This time (they say) my grandpa made a good cut and the mistrust of Mr. Alexander disappeared. Mr. Severino came back and brought in some electric haircutters and two sets of guards going from # 1 to # 4. Apparently this made the job easier at the barbershop. Mr. Alexander also switched between the two barbers when he got his haircut.

When my father and uncle were old enough to help the shop and replace one of the two barbers, Mr. Alexander (according to what my grandpa said) agreed to serve as guinea pig for them (though Mr. Alexander had said me that my grandpa forced him to do it, but I'll never know who spoke the truth). My uncle was the first to give Mr. Alexander a haircut. According to everyone tells me this cut was a disaster too, but my father was able to fix it. From there, Mr. Alexander could switch between one of the three barbers: Mr. Severino, Grandpa David or my father (I imagine he never let my uncle cut his hair again). When Mr. Severino died my father officially became Mr. Alexander's barber, with my grandpa serving as a reserve barber when my father was busy. Despite the bad cuts he received with my grandpa and uncle during "guinea pig time", he was never angry.

Years passed and it was my turn to help in the barbershop. When Mr. Alexander came to cut his hair, my grandpa made him sit in the chair and told me to cut his hair. I could see that Mr. Alexander was not happy with the idea of serving as a guinea pig once again. But my grandpa joked that it was tradition that Mr. Alexander was the first client/guinea pig of our family's barbers and that he would keep the tradition. I was worried about making this cut because I really liked Mr. Alexander and didn’t want him to be angry with me. In spite of everything I did a good job. The cut was a Buzz # 3 on the sides and back and cut with scissors on top. Mr. Alexander commented that the barber's blood flowed strongly in my veins and that each new barber in the family did a better job than the previous one. He also said that if I had a son and that he wanted to follow the barber's career, he would be the best barber in the world, and that Mr. Alexander would be very happy to be his guinea pig.

A few months ago Mr. Alexander appeared at the barbershop to say goodbye. He said he was going to São Paulo to solve matters related to his family and he didn’t know if he would return to the city. My grandpa was still alive at the time and wanted to do this last cut. He told Mr. Alexander to sit down, and before he could say how he wanted the cut, my grandpa took the clippers without guards to the nape of his neck till the crown. Some seconds later the sides and back had been shaved too. My grandpa used the scissors to work on the top leaving about ½ cm in length. "It's like going back in time. And I love it. Thank you, Mr. David" was Mr. Alexander's comment. We named that cut like Alex Cut. We said goodbye with tears and laughter. He was more than a client, he was almost like a member of our family. A few days ago I received a letter. I wondered who still sent letters in 2017. It was a surprise when I saw that the letter was from Mr. Alexander. He said he was finishing up some affairs, but that he would return to Serra Talhada after the New Year. He knew about my grandpa's death and said he would miss him. Finally, he said he would go to the barbershop once he got to town to have a Alex Cut again.

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