In the Barber’s

I went to my barber today. he’s the same one I’ve used since I arrived here, a cheerful, blokeish, overweight Lebanese geezer, with a flair for the scissors, a tough, manly handshake and a no-nonsense look in his eye. Unusually, I had to wait for him to finish with another customer, a fey, perfectly coiffed Kuwaiti in an immaculate dishdasha with more than a streak of left-footedness about him. When he was finished, he left the shop, apparently changed his mind, walking back in again to demand a large mirror with which he scrutinised every inch of his perfectly groomed face – speculatively poking the facial tissue with the elongated finger of one hand, while picking his feet with the other – the national pastime. He had one of those virtual moustaches – a shadowy representation of the real thing which he stroked like a pet, repeatedly smoothing the fine downy hairs to a state of perfect, symmetrical rectitude, making small moues into the mirror. I tried not to stare, not wishing to send inappropriate signals. I have been gently teased about being fussy about my appearance, also about being over-preoccupied with my own facial hair – it itches if the truth be told – but the young Narcissus in the barbershop was in  a league all of his own. Which led me to ask myself – one rather wonders what signals are being given to the remainder of the male community from young men such as these? One meets quite a few unreconstructed gender non-specifics in trousers (can’t use the ‘g’ word, it’s un-Islamic) here – fluttering their dark eyelashes indiscriminately and giggling with the girls. Young men – or post-adolescents, let’s say – are rigorously segregated from the fairer and bumpier sex, who flirt just as efficiently as Western girls, and the consequences of an abundance of bottled testosterone may have what might in the West be described as antisocial outcomes. Boys apparently ‘experiment’ in much the same way as Western boys, if the rumours of what went on behind the fives-courts were accurate, but are socially less stigmatised in consequence. It’s perhaps fortunate that mosques have no altarboys and imams are mostly occupied with at least one wife, so Islam can never be accused of systematic child abuse in the same way that Rome has been.

I was undecided which image to post. The John Waterhouse with his belaureled Narcissus looking at his reflection – he does paint yummy pre-Raphaelite women so very well, or Dali’s ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’ which seemed quite apposite, it being Easter, with eggs and all…


One thought on “In the Barber’s

  1. You are a model of political correctness, MathMan. I myself while away hours in the local coffee shop, slowly sipping my latte while I watch the posturing, primping, and preening of… the guys.
    The “bumpier sex” seems to do most of this at home or in the bathroom rather than in public. It is fascinating to watch androgynous beings using the nearest shop window to fluff keffiyeh, smooth said 'shadow' of a 'stache' or pat the intricately coiffed, overly shellacked bouffant perched above this 'stache like a weird motorcycle helmet.(Banty roosters always come to mind. I guess that reveals my oh-so-plebeian upbringing.)
    Still, all-in-all, a generally enjoyable afternoon pastime. I'm sure at some point, an article for the Journal of Behavioural Psychology will emerge. It might even get published.


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