Monday, October 27, 2008

Photographs and Memories

Yesterday I mentioned my sister had discovered some old things of mine that I had overlooked when doing cleanup work at our parents house. I thought I would share them with you today.

First, baby needs a new pair of shoes. She found what must be my very first shoes, size 1, no less (I've only grown 7 sizes since then). There's even instructions in the box as to how to properly care for them. I suppose they must be genuine leather because they've held up very well over the years - no need for bronzing them. Since my sister was going to let her cats wear them I decided to take possession of them instead.

She also found this art project. Julie asked who cut my hair. Well, it was either my mom or one of two Japanese barbers that I used to go to.

I hated getting haircuts. It was traumatic, facing all the derisive laughter from my classmates the next day. I'd dread the days my mom said I had to get a haircut and also hearing my dad's car pull into the driveway when he got home from work. A few times I tried hiding but there weren't many places to hide in our house so that wasn't successful.

The barber shop we went to was on Normandie Avenue. There were two Japanese barbers, neither of whom spoke English. There was also no English reading material and I hated sitting there waiting for a hair cut because it was so boring, plus it was like being on death row because after the boring wait came the torture of a hair cut. Everyone else who went to that barber was Japanese and spoke in that language so I had no idea what anyone was saying.

I have to say that once in a while it was exciting because I would run across a thumbnail-size picture of a topless woman in one of the Japanese magazines. I was master of looking nonchalant as I kept returning to the page while at the same time eyeing my dad to make sure he wasn't watching what I was doing.

One barber I liked more than the other because he was more gentle with my poor head and hair. He moved back to Japan, though. When my dad told me this, I imagined a big farewell parade being given for him, my preferred barber leading it holding a baton while everyone lined the sidewalks clapping for him. I thought everyone moving back to Japan got a similar fanfare; don't ask me where I got that crazy idea because I don't know, that's just what I thought it was like.

That left me with the other barber who was mostly bald. Maybe that's why he cut my hair so violently: out of jealousy, haha. I was plagued by chawan-bowl haircuts all through elementary school.

In high school I thought I had found the answer to my hair troubles - Tropics Barber Shop in Crenshaw Square. That's where a lot of the Asians at school got their hair cut and their cuts looked pretty good so my dad and I started going there.

I guess the barber can only do so much. I've been told I have very coarse, dense hair that also has a very slight wave to it, making it is more difficult to cut. Maybe that's just the barber's excuse? Being that I am also lazy and don't really want to spend time doing anything except combing/brushing it as fast as I can and getting out of the house, there's really not much that can be done anyway.

Those were the days of Brylcream ("a little dab'll do you") and Score ("Score doesn't hold too good") and admonishments to people who were still using that "greasy kid's stuff." Then all these hair creams fell out of fashion so the companies who made them waited a little while and then repackaged them as "hair gel" or else they wound up getting recycled back into their original form, Crisco and Vaseline.

These days it isn't so torturous getting a haircut because finally I have accepted the fact that there is only so much that anyone can do and people simply aren't miracle workers. I go to a Korean woman named Grace who does as good a job as anyone else ever has at a reasonable price and the added benefit is we can discuss the latest Korean dramas while she snips and shaves.

Here's another picture unearthed by my sister, circa sometime after the first one. That's a nice simple haircut. I always thought it made me look like Sargent Carter on the Gomer Pyle show.

Ah, the face only a mother could love.. the usual result of my pathetic attempts at art in school was a miserable facsimile of whatever the teacher modeled as the finished product.

This particular art project involved making a Santa on the side of a cylindrical ice cream container (like what Carnation ice cream came in). I was doing okay for a while and then things got progressively worse and, well, it turned out being flat out ugly and I was ashamed to take it home. I should have left well enough alone and taken the carton home in its original condition. But carry it home I did and when my mom asked me what I had made in class that day, I thrust it towards her and started crying because it looked so bad.

Like only a mother could do, she told me it was beautiful and thanked me for it and gave me a hug. And I suspended reality for the moment and believed her.

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