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Haircut

Rating: 3.5

I get off the IRT in front of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture after riding an early
Amtrak from Philly to get a hair cut at what used to be the Harlem "Y" barbershop. It gets me in at ten to
ten. Waiting, I eat fish cakes at the Pam Pam and listen to the ladies call out orders: bacon-biscuit twice,
scrambled scrambled fried, over easy, grits, country sausage on the side. Hugh is late. He shampoos me,
says "I can't remember, Girlfriend, are you tender-headed?" From the chair I notice the mural behind me
in the mirror. I know those overlapped sepia shadows, a Renaissance rainforest, Aaron Douglas! Hugh tells
me he didn't use primer and the chlorine eats the colors every day. He clips and combs and I tell him how
my favorite Douglas is called "Building More Stately Mansions," and he tells me how fly I'd look in a Salt 'n'
Pepa 'do, how he trained in Japan.
Clip clip, clip clip. I imagine a whoosh each time my hair lands on the floor and the noises of small brown

mammals. I remember, my father! He used to get his hair cut here, learned to swim in the caustic water,
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