My Gullible Goth Beautician

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Commentator Andrei Codrescu creates a fantasy back-story of himself when asked by a "Goth" beautician, "What do you do?" He says he teaches the Middle Ages, when real Goths roamed the world. He says the woman cutting his hair seems to be shampooing his hair as if trying to squeeze the knowledge out of him. In short, this is a story about Codrescu getting his hair cut.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From Poland to this country and commentator Andrei Codrescu, who shares this story about trying to care of the simple task: getting a haircut.

ANDREI CODRESCU: You walk into a hair salon that just opened in the hood. A few ex-Goth girls sit on barber chairs, having a discussion. All beauticians are now ex-Goth, who suddenly got to be 28 years old, looked in the mirror, and got scared by their own tattoos. Then, they went to beauty school.

Can I get a haircut? The keeper of the appointment desk - perched on a high chair framed by hair products and skin creams - opens the appointments book and scans it as if my haircut was a matter of grave doubt, maybe possible months from now.

One of the busy beauticians swats a fly. No one is getting haircut, though, from a far off room come the suspiciously sexual sighs of someone getting shampooed.

Jojo(ph), the (unintelligible) of the lady, calls out. Are you busy right now? Jojo lifts her black-rimmed eyes from inches away and sighs, I can take him, she offers.

In the chair, she spends dreamy time running very light fingers through my sparse, almost non-existent hair. She's thinking. We discussed the future shape of my head - a very simple matter to me, but not to Jojo, who cuts men only rarely. She must first have a vision. She smells good with her eyes closed and her hand in my hair. But I'm kind of busy. How about a buzz cut at the number two? I offer. We're off.

And then I hear her through the buzz. What is it you do? What, me? Test drive cars for GM, smoke opium for a poet with weak lungs, get paid for sleeping, body double for Mel Gibson. There is nothing like an innocent question from a beautician to get one going on the path to exoticism. This is an opportunity to reinvent myself.

I teach the Middle Ages, I say - when Goths roamed the earth. The number two clippers stopped buzzing for a second at the top of my skull. The dragon that begins somewhere in her back and snakes down her sleeves, ending in short, black dots in my hair, pulses suddenly with black light. It's a Goth dragon from the Middle Ages, when she was young.

She does a masterful job, and I get a great shampoo after, as she presses down on my skull with her great, sad Goth body, hoping to absorb all the Middle Ages knowledge in my head.

We are one in a great, magical kingdom. And it's only 20 bucks.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Andrei Codrescu teaches writing at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

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