Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Friend's Haircut

My Friend's Haircut

"Problem is, I have to get my haircut" my friend says over the phone. I think a moment. "Then I'll come with you," I say, "I can wait in the car or perhaps even have mine done too." There is a pause. "We'd have to make an appointment for that, I'm afraid," he says, "but if you'd like to come along I'll pick you up and we can go swimming afterwards, that is, after we've also been to my dealership. I've got to get the car quickly checked before we leave for Phoenix tomorrow. But I do want to go to the gym, okay? See you at three."

He arrives on the dot, as we say. He parks as near as possible to the entrance of my building since I have to use my cane to get to his car. And then we set off. We talk with the easy familiarity of two people who've known each for nearly thirty years. Phoenix rises up in our conversation within the gamut of what we did yesterday and slides into whatever happened to This person and then That person, along with which we analyze the paths least or most trodden, depending on the circumstances. After all, that one became an alcoholic and this other one became a womanizer, and then there's yet This Other fellow who is a closet introvert, given that his impeccable manners would not have the public suspect as much. And next my friend nudges his car into a spare parking spot. But the block he has to walk, albeit with his own limp and the ever-present boot-brace he needs is too far for me, and I let him know I'll happily wait. He hands me the car keys so that I may listen to the radio, or adjust the windows for air.

Some forty-five minutes later he is back. I'd used the time to tap at my iPad, to watch the passersby on an autumnal October Wednesday, and to enjoy the moments to myself. "What have you been working on?" he asks, easing himself into the driver's seat and then starting off. I close up my machine. "Been working on this essay called Room for a View," I offer. He picks up on the phraseology. "Ah, not with a view but for a view, eh?" And next we 're into reminisces about the four panes of the Johari Window (the which he'd first let me see into, back in the 80's) and our continuing inability to see ourselves completely. Our chatter meanders along and then he turns into the dealership where, once we've left the car, we continue talking in the waiting room about the pitfalls of myopia, of closed-mindedness, of absolutes, of certainties, and of unbridled egotism.

The car ready for us, we drive back toward the indoor pool complex, and we pay our entrance fee and he goes to the gymnasium and I go to the change rooms and prepare for the pool-water, do my weightless exercises, my workout, my challenge of increasing my endurance, my attempts at overcoming the perpetual nerve pinching pain, and then at last come out of the changing room again. I am exhausted. He is sweating but uses a towel to dry his face and is ready to go. I tell him of my having to do my math classes immediately after swim class back in school days, and how the slightly nauseous feeling now puts me back in that time. Yes. We are our past and our present and our future too, we know. Yet that which we now do prepares us for that very future. In that case, for both of us, we're getting fitter for it, ha! Finally, he drops me off at my place. Good-bye!

And now, three days later, I realize: I never even thought to look at or say anything about my friend's haircut!

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