Short Back and Sides Please呃……后面和旁边短一点

That's China - - Contents -

Fast for­ward a hun­dred years or so, and mov­ing from the Wild West to the Far East, things may have changed slightly, yet the air of dread still re­mains. A ner­vous look­ing mal­nour­ished young man, who has been liv­ing off noth­ing but noo­dles and rice for the past few months, ner­vously opens the heavy glass doors... Text by / David Searle

Ever seen one of those corny old west­erns where a hulk­ing great cow­boy bursts through the swing doors of a bar and the room im­me­di­ately de­scends into a hushed si­lence? All eyes are set squarely on the mys­te­ri­ous man as he slowly walks to­wards the bar. “I’ll have a shot of your strong­est gulpin’ whisky, ma’m,” the stranger drawls, the air full of ten­sion as the liquor is be­ing poured into the glass and ev­ery man, woman and child strokes their guns in prepa­ra­tion for the in­evitable showdown.

Fast for­ward a hun­dred years or so, and mov­ing from the Wild West to the Far East, things may have changed slightly, yet the air of dread still re­mains. A ner­vous look­ing mal­nour­ished young man, who has been liv­ing off noth­ing but noo­dles and rice for the past few months, ner­vously opens the heavy glass doors. Im­me­di­ately, ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion tak­ing place in the room stops and all eyes are squarely on the stranger. “huan ying guang lin!” they all scream in joy as they de­scend upon their prey with smiles and high­lighted fringes. He sits down in the bar­ber’s chair and is faced by a bar­rage of un­de­ci­pher­able Chi­nese.

“Er, ting bu dong. Wo xiang…not too short,” he replies. An­other stream of Chi­nese comes his way. “Er…dui,” is the sec­ond hope­ful re­ply. The man is rushed over to the sinks where his hair is thor­oughly washed by a smil­ing, ef­fem­i­nate look­ing man. As the warm wa­ter washes over his head and a ter­ri­ble C-pop dance track plays over the speak­ers, he starts to think that maybe this isn’t too bad. He is taken back to the bar­ber’s chair and no­tices the hair­dressers all stroking their scis­sors in prepa­ra­tion for the in­evitable showdown.

One hair­dresser be­gins his mas­sage treat­ment. Ouch, the man thinks, yet he dare not say any­thing and works hard to keep a false smile on his face. Af­ter a cou­ple of min­utes of hav­ing fin­gers dug into his head he de­cides it’s time to speak out. I’m go­ing to tell him

Mul­ti­ply that by 100 when that ef­fem­i­nate look­ing man (so that’s all of them then) starts mas­sag­ing your shoul­ders and spout­ing some un­fath­omable Chi­nese that you hope isn’t: “so you want four­inch blue spikes and a Nike tick shaved in the back.”

to stop, I’m go­ing to tell him to stop, I’m go­ing to tell him to stop, he thinks to him­self. He opens his mouth, takes a deep breath and…the mas­sage stops be­fore he makes a sound.

Feel­ing a happy sense of re­lief, the man starts to re­lax. This wasn’t too bad af­ter all, and talk about cheap! Yes, get­ting your hair­cut abroad is no prob­lem for the likes of some­one with the for­ti­tude that he has. He proudly sits back as he watches the bar­ber take a pair of clip­pers and holds them to his head. Job well done, he thinks, job well done! Bzzzzzz. The man’s bulge in horror as he watches what used to be the hair on one side of his head fall to the ground like leaves off an au­tumn tree, and half of his head as shaven as short as your av­er­age English foot­ball hooli­gan’s. Go­ing to the hair­dressers in a coun­try where you don’t speak the lan­guage can be an in­tim­i­dat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Mul­ti­ply that by 10 when you also look very dif­fer­ent to ev­ery other cus­tomer that walks through that bar­ber shop’s door and ev­ery per­son who is in­side is star­ing at you. Mul­ti­ply that by 100 when that ef­fem­i­nate look­ing man (so that’s all of them then) starts mas­sag­ing your shoul­ders and spout­ing some un­fath­omable Chi­nese that you hope isn’t: “so you want four-inch blue spikes and a Nike tick shaved in the back.”

To many peo­ple, hair is of vi­tal im­por­tance. It gives them their iden­tity. So when you have no way to ac­tu­ally ex­plain what you ac­tu­ally want your bar­ber to do, and can only an­swer any of his ques­tions with a con­fused and hope­ful ‘dui’, it leads many to re­sort to cut­ting their own hair. Well, fear not, be­cause your days of wonky fringes and split ends are over! that’s will now give you a crash course in Man­darin Chi­nese that may come in handy the next time you feel your hair is start­ing to get in your eyes.

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