Getting a haircut in a foreign country is like going to the dentist anywhere in the world; it sucks. Yet, I’d live in a dentist’s office before resorting to a man-bun, so I do what I have to do. I can tell that they can tell I am American before I open my mouth.
I nod. They lead me over to the sinks. They place a large black plastic robe around me and sit me down. As always, there is no position that is pleasant for my neck and my head is so far back that I can’t comfortably breathe. They wash it twice, three times.
I sit in front of the mirror, wet. I sigh.
“Style?” The woman asks. Embarrassed, as always, I find the screen shot on my phone of some much better looking man with much better hair than me and show it to her. She looks at it, then to my hair, then back. She frowns.
“Your hair, not like this.”
I shrug, taking my phone back. “Something like this then,” I tell her. She starts cutting, I close my eyes. Then, the worst part of a haircut arrives; talk.
“Where are you from?” she asks.
I open my eyes.
“America,” I say to her reflection.
She makes a face. “Why do you come to Russia?”
I try to blow off a piece of hair that’s fallen on my lip. It’s wet.
“I like it here,” I tell her.
She makes another face. I close my eyes, again. Only a moment.
“My friend go to America before. She went and came home with girlfriend.”
I wait for more, it comes.
“It is so strange, people in America do this a lot?”
“Girls making girlfriends.”
I can’t nod so I tell her, “yes, it is quite common.”
She makes a disapproving tsk. “She had a boyfriend when she left Russia, but came back with a girlfriend. She wants to marry her.”
“Yeah,” I say, instead of saying something. She continues snipping around my ears, obviously deep in thought.
“Can she do that?”
“America is strange.”
I shrug. “It’s not that unusual there. Depending on where you are from,” I say, then close my eyes.
“Do you have a Russian girlfriend?”
“Will you take her back to America?” she asks, moving around to my other side.
“We will probably visit someday. But maybe I shouldn’t, she might come back with a girlfriend,” I smirk.
The hairdresser is silent. She keeps snipping with a concerned face.
“No,” she decides, “that would not be good.”
It seems to be the last of her ideas on the matter. I sigh and close my eyes, finally.
I suffer the rest of my haircut in peace.