Friday, November 5, 2010

Take You to the Barbershop

Getting a haircut is, oddly enough, one of the scariest things I do here in Moscow.  I haven't gotten it quite figured out, but it just is.  I just get nervous every time I force myself to get one.  Really, really nervous.

But for the most part things are really great.  The particular place I go (in the basement of an apartment building) only charges 150 rubles (about 4-5 bucks), and things are always moving quickly.   You wait in line outside the room (if there ever is a line--it's only happened once for me) and when there's a free barber you nod and shake his hand.

With absolute certainty I know that one of the reasons I'm nervous is just the language.  I actually have most of the words down that I need for getting a haircut, but I think I'm just scared that I could say something wrong that would make my request the opposite of what I would like (for instance, instead of saying "I just want a little cut all around," I'm worried I might ask for everything to be cut except for a little).  It's really silly, it's just hair, but I just get nervous.  I also think that has to do with the innate desire of being understood.  Or at least that's my excuse.

I also think I'm nervous because of the first time I had ever gone.  My Russian was atrocious, and I just felt like I was being made fun of the entire time (which I probably wasn't).  But when you can't really understand you have this strange feeling that everything is about you.  That group over there is saying something about how silly you look, or that security guard is laughing at you, and so on.  In reality none of that is true, but during those months where I understood practically nothing, I (selfishly and rather narcissistic-ally) assumed it was all about me.

Anyways, so the first time I just felt like a fool.  And I knew the price for a haircut was 150 rubles, but in some strange attempt at congeniality, I asked how much the price was.  The man looked at me and up at my hair and said, "For *your* hair....... 200 rubles."  I just handed him the bills and walked away, defeated and with no recourse.  No snappy thing to say.

And ever since then I've been nervous I'll have a similar experience.  The only thing is I never do.  Every other person who I've sat with to let slice and dice at my hair has been beyond kind, and I've been able to share about myself and ask about them.  They've only charged the correct amount, and they usually comment on the amount of hair that has ended up on the floor.

I'm sorry-- after reading over this post again, I just feel so ridiculous.  I get stressed out about some of the dumbest things.  Please know that if you are thinking about how silly I am while reading this, I agree with you completely.


  1. Tim,
    As one who faces the same challenges in Ukraine, I do not find it silly. Your hair and the way you look are important to you and you are right, one wrong word and you could wind up scalped!
    May you continue to grow in confidence in language and culture! Now, go get your haircut! :)

  2. One word, Tim... "ploshadka". Order it by name the next time you're at the barber. :)