To celebrate finally moving into my new neighborhood in Bangkok, I decided to get a haircut yesterday. I must live in the salon district in Bangkok as there were about 20 to choose from. Either that or Thais just really love getting their hair done. I picked the one with the happiest looking ladies who were already busy with other clients, sort of the same philosophy as picking a Chinese restaurant which is full of Chinese people, except that this analogy makes no fucking sense. As I sat down the ladies chatter increased and they began to smile even more brightly as they all stared at me. I would liken it to what Japanese girls do when they see some new rendition of Hello Kitty. The youngest worker approached me and with another young fellow customer in lock step to inform me it would be 200 baht ($6) for a haircut. I thought this to be quite expensive at first, as in Khao San Road, I saw white person friendly haircuts for 100 baht ($3), but what can I say, I’ve lost the path of the frugal ways. Sorry mom. The girl then a placed celebrity magazine on my lap asking for me to choose my new doo. I felt a sting of disappointment however when she laughed off my request for the latest Lady Gaga style. I guess Thailand isn’t the sexism free paradise I thought it to be. When I selected my runner up, Zack Efron, the stylists gathered together for their own mini-tribal meeting on how best to approach the mission at hand.
With determination, a pair of poorly maintained scissors, my new stylist went to work. At first I thought she might have a lazy eye, as one was permanently locked onto the celebrity magazine whilst the other tended to my giant farang (foreigner) melon. Her ability with her eyes was equally as intriguing as her hair cutting technique – the cut and yank maneuver – a classic for those pesky hair follicles that just won’t give up.
35 minutes after finishing her David, she asked if I wished for a “shapppo”. Of course I responded with a resounding yes – older Asian women have wondrous hands when working a scalp. I suspect their hands are so powerful because of the many years of hard labor and skill they have acquired while picking up the slack for their alcohol dependent husbands who hang outside of 7-11. Yet another reason I think old white and dilapidated expats are so very fond of Thai women, their amazing hands. That and they don’t talk as much (at least not in human sounding decibel levels).
Probably the greatest thing about Thailand thus far is that everything includes some type of massage. Pedicure – massage, manicure – massage, metro ride – massage…the list goes on. Even my new nice little night security guard of my apartment offered me a quick night rub down with a twinkle in his eye. After she had massaged my head into bliss, she took me back to my seat and worked on the shoulders, arms and then proceeded to make this clapping movement against my head. It was kind of weird, as it provided absolutely no value other than looking like she was working. If I were to make the the greatest TV show that Asia has never seen (or at least one I have not seen, with the whole zero amount I have watched), I would make a candid camera show, where Thais see just how much they can fuck with white people before the white person realizes that this is not part of the cultural experience and hitting them in the face, back and nuts with bamboo is really not believed to ward off evil spirits.
But alas, like all good things, they must come to an end. The haircut finished and she bowed gracefully. Not to be out done, I then bowed even more gracefully, sending the women watching into a chorus of orgasmic delight. As I paid my bill and threw down an extra 40 baht ($1.33) as a tip, the women paused with a look of confusion. “This is your tip. I now look like Zack Efron and can maybe now find a girlfriend. Buddha sends you many thanks.” I bowed again.
I have don’t know what Bruce Springsteen feels like after a performance, but probably exhausted from all the drugs and sex – this was almost as good. Well, no, tot really, but nice.
I said farewell to my new neighbors but assured them and their devastated faces at the thought of my departure, that we will meet again before they knew it, for I am Dances with Elephants and I walk amongst them now.