What shocked me, however, was the queue for the barbers! What’s this urgency with men to get their hair cut?
I was 18 when I first went out into the Big Bad World i.e. Dublin, to study English and Latin (of all things) in UCD and to reside in digs with my sister Mary who had ventured into that world a few years earlier.
The Big Bad World!
Our parents warned us about it with gentle admonitions like: mind yourself up there, be careful who you mix with, look after your few bob and don’t forget your morals.
And I was probably given a scapular and a miraculous medal to boot to protect me from the badness lurking out there.
In hindsight it wasn’t such a Big Bad World after all. Or if it was (and for sure it wasn’t all sweetness and light) I was lucky enough to avoid it.
And maybe it had little to do with luck and more to do with how my parents had reared me. Mind you I had one or two scrapes with the dark side, one in particular I shall never forget.
One night a group of us are sitting around in a flat in Rathmines, chewing the fat and sipping cheap wine, as students do, when there’s a knock on the door.
The guards! Oh Christ! Ever so politely they wondered if they could take a look around; search warrants weren’t the order of the day back then or if they were we knew nothing about them.
What are they looking for I wondered? Drugs! Had to be drugs not least because one of lads present wore a fur coat (I swear) and was known to smoke the odd joint. Or two. And might even offer you one if you were so inclined.
As the guards take a peek under beds and in presses I am envisaging my mother’s face when she discovers that her youngest son has been implicated in a drugs bust in Dublin, i.e. the Big Bad World, in his first year in college.
The guards it transpired were looking for, not drugs, but a missing girl! Holy Jesus! Who are these fellow students who I only know a wet day? Kidnappers? And my mother’s words rang loud and clear in my ear: ‘be careful who you mix with.’
To cut this long story (which was meant to be short) short – the guards were in the wrong flat; the guy in the fur coat dropped out of college and I haven’t seen the others since.
I’ve digressed. So, having gone out into the Big Bad World at 18 little did I think that decades later I’d have to go out into it again!
The Big Bad World in this instance being the Big Bad World of Covid-19. Bad and dangerous for sure. Deadly dangerous. But, like us all, out we go unless we want to become hermits.
And so I strolled the streets of Kilkenny and wandered in and out of a few shops – even bought a book and a pair of shoes, my first retail indulgence in three long months. Yippee!
What shocked me, however, was the queue for the barbers! Now I understand queues for medicines, for groceries, for hammers and hacksaws but queues for the barbers!
What’s this urgency with men to get their hair cut? Women I understand, women feel half naked if their hair’s not right. But men! What’s this obsession with short hair?
Of course when I look at the profile of those in the queue – I see young guys who probably have a battalion of face creams, shaving products and hair gels in their bathroom and a stack of Men’s Health magazines beneath their beds.
Unlike folks my age who had one bottle of Old Spice in the bathroom cabinet and a well-thumbed copy of Playboy (doing the rounds for months) beneath the mattress.
We, of course, ‘offspring’ of the Sixties, were the long-hair pioneers of our generation. We would-be-hippies grew our hair shoulder-length. Well some did.
We waited for years for a hair-cut. We can wait again.
And I should mention here that some of mankind’s greatest people had long hair: Jesus, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Geronimo, Einstein, Saint Bob (Geldof) not to mention poor old Samson.
And we all know what happened to him when the wily Delilah cut his hair while he was sleeping. You don’t? Well Google him while you’re queuing for your short, back and sides.
Finally, on the topic of hair – ladies, find a man who will run his fingers through your hair and tell you how soft it is and who doesn’t mind that it’s on your legs!