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That turkey shave


Ahad Bey, of the Raki Horror Show Café,

Recommended a barber.

O mores, o tempores… 

When first I went a-roving I had some serious hair;

Now I feel seriously simian with a month’s growth.

Better hairy ape than cueball, say I.

Yet chromedome seems the style.

A cut for compromise then,

A treaty trim.

 The salon of Usta Youssef was not Richarde’s de la Ritz:

 A hole in the wall, or ground rather;

 You had to step down from the street.

 Youssef:   could have been thirty, could have been sixty,

 Bantam build, cedar skin, yellow eyes, frightening teeth;

I will not ask Ahed Bey to recommend a dentist.

He was being his own customer, giving himself a shave. 

Seeing me in the mirror, he wheeled about,

And sat me in the more seaworthy

Of his two unanchored swivel chairs.

Chiya? Chiya, Effendi?  he proposed,

Then scuttled up and out for said beverage,

His weekend stubble still intact though creamed with lather.

 Returning with steaming apple tea, he finished his shave,

 Looking considerably less villainous,

Then as I sipped went to work on me,

Without proposing anything. 

Mostly he used scissors, 

But also handpowered clippers,

A straight razor,

Not the one he had used on himself, he had quite a collection,
 
And a blowtorch. 

He reduced the quantity of my scalp, beard,

Eyebrows and ear hairs.

 For these last he used the blowtorch
 
Or something , maybe just a modified Zippo lighter,

That produced a whoosh of fire and did burn for an instant.
 
But gone were the ear whiskers,
 
Leaving only that distinct aroma of incinerated follicules.
 
At least he didn’t try that on my nose.
 
Scary enough when he stuck those scissors up there.

He didn’t warn me that he was going to do that,

He spoke no English,

But I doubt he would have anyway. 

Having set fire to your ears, Effendi, I am now going to poke these up your nose. 

Comfortable, Effendi?

Speaking of fire, he inhaled from a Bulgar while he cut.

He shaved my neck down to the shoulders,

 Then put me face down in the enamel basin for a shampoo.

A resurrection was in that baptism

Of infant ablutions.

Proust would have been proud.

Usta Youssef dried me off,
 
Combed me out,
 
Doused me with lemon water. 

Spiffier have I never shown.

All for a mere ten million:

Worth every lira.     

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