! Something For The Weekend? (2)
by Michael Shepherd
As I follow Eric the barber to the pay counter,
feeling scraped and trimmed and scented and almost younger,
we slip into a familiar ritual,
a little touch of theatre
which takes us briefly out of ourselves
or perhaps even into ourselves a little,
come to think of it:
'Something for the weekend, sir? '
He doesn't say this sotto voce like the other barbers,
but rather louder than normal
in his ex-actor's voice
to draw the whole shop into this moment of performance
and assure any new customers
that no offence is intended.
The joke is of course my advanced age.
You might call it post-everything irony.
But there's just a touch of respect there too.
His young assistant Rob
who's giving expert attention to the young guy in the other chair,
with that intimate proficiency which the young
now bestow on the grooming of their peers,
but who doesn't miss a beat,
rolls his eyes heavenward at this sally
though this stale camp mannerism
can't quite hide his affection for his employer.
He gives me a quick glance of acknowledgement
across the chasm of age.
These little routines and rituals and performances
give shape to the week.
But hanging unvoiced in the air
is the knowledge
that one more rent rise and it's curtains for this establishment.
That is the stage direction
that is not spoken in the script.