This is no place for a shampoo. No gels. No mousse. No hairspray. No blow dryers. Just real razors and serious scissors.
I got this from Google translate: Yo no hablo mucho español. Quiero un corte de pelo. Yo quiero que se vea como el mismo. No corte mas. (I do not speak much Spanish. I want a haircut. I want it to look about the same. Don't cut much.)
But apparently I inadvertently said, Yo no hablo mucho español. Quiero un corte de pelo. Quiero ver como un niño de nueve años de edad. Piensa Beaver Cleaver. Por favor, use tijeras oxidadas. También me gustaría que ocupe algodón con alcohol para que me arda la cara como un fuego. (I do not speak much Spanish. I want a haircut. I want to look like a nine-year-old boy. Think Beaver Cleaver. Please use rusty scissors. I would also like for you to use cotton balls to dab on alcohol that burns like fire.)
We were the only two people in the barber shop-which makes sense now-so I decided to practice my Spanish.
Me: ¿Cuántos años un barbero? (How many years a barber?)
Barber: Long, meandering, incomprehensible to me me five minute answer that ended with cincuenta anos.
Me: Cincuenta anos. Muy bien. _¿Vive en__ Santiago toda su vida?_ I had been working on "Have you lived in Santiago all your life?" for the last four minutes of his answer.
Barber: No. _Yo vivía__ en el norte._ This was followed by an extensive, circuitous response that I did not understand at all.
Me: Si. El norte. _¿Tiene una__ familia?_ I had been waiting with "Do you have a family?" for some time.
The Barber: No. No familia. Then he spent a significant amount of time explaining why. I'm not sure what he said. As best I could make out he was married when he lived up north. They moved to Santiago or she may have left him to come to Santiago. They split up or he killed her. I realize how that sounds, but I thought I heard a wistful Yo la maté. I recognize that he could have just as easily been talking about a bush (mata) or check mate in a chess match (mate). Perhaps I missed him telling me about his time as a matador. He was talking pretty fast.
If this were a movie the big confession would make sense. Maybe he's been carrying around this horrible truth for cincuenta anos. He's never told anyone. Then this gringo with a severely limited vocabulary wanders in. My barber realizes he can say anything and I won't have a clue what's going on.
Even if by some unlikely accident I hear "I killed her" and by some bigger fluke I tell la policia, who would take my word over his-especially since I clearly don't understand 90% of his words?
He could say, El americano tonto me malentendio. _Lo que dije fue__ , m i vida ha estado vacía desde que ella murió. Ella era mi todo._ (The silly American misunderstood. What I said was, my life has been empty since she died. She was my everything.)
I would believe him.
After he either confessed to a terrible crime or told me how much he missed his wife we didn't talk much more, but he seemed lighter, relieved.
Which makes me wonder again if he really did confess something. Maybe during the final, protracted response I missed him saying, "I got married when I was nineteen. She was kind and, in a curious sort of way, quite beautiful, but I wanted to be successful so I went to work early and stayed late. I watched every penny, so she went without a lot of things she should have had. We stopped really talking. After a while we might as well have been speaking different languages. She hung in there a long time, but after a while she got tired of living alone. I should have been a better husband. She died a few years ago. I went to the funeral and sat in the back. No one recognized me."
I may go back in a month and tell my new barber about how I could be a better husband. I can be stingy. I don't say what's most important. I don't listen as carefully I should. Confessing could be good for my soul, too.