In my neighborhood there is a small barber shop owned and operated by an Iraqi expatriate. His assistants are also Iraqi expatriates. They are non Muslims and left Iraq after the first gulf war. They are soft spoken well mannered and give decent haircuts. The owner learned his trade as a resident of an internment camp in Iraq.
I was starting to look like Mr. Mugs so I decided to visit Mooneer, my Iraqi barber. He was out having lunch so his assistant gave me the do over. Not as refined as Mooneer, about 250lb., a small gut with a strong build. He is very quiet, with a bit of an angry facade.
He takes the eight inch comb and starts to scrape it against my skull. I was going to question his effort, but then realized it felt kind of good, as long as I don't have any sores or pimples on my scalp it would be OK.
Amjad, picks up his scissors, stares at them, says something in Arabic, and makes some adjustment. With his left hand he starts to layer my hair, with the right he trims it. Every time he picks up my hair with the comb, the back of his hand whacks my head. Not hard but a kid might freak out. I was kind of liking it and I could hear his hands going "thwamp, thwamp, whack", all around my head.
Mooneer arrived back at the shop with a Somali Muslim women and her twin sons in tow. Amjad gave a death stare to the group. The "thwamp, twamp, wack", got more intense and I could see he did not like the idea of cutting the hair of those Somali boys. Amjad starts to work my head like a fine melon trying to kill time until the other assistant takes one if the boys and Mooneer sets up for the other.
Amjad picks up the blow dryer and brush and plow-scrapes, (new word), my scalp until the boys are in the other barber chairs. It was quite invigorating. I paid Amjad and left a healthy tip. Not only did I come out of that shop looking sharp, but I had just experienced my first head massage.