“So what are the plans for tonight?”, he asks me, wetting my hair in the washbasin before working the shampoo into my scalp.
“Nothing much. My flatmate has a friend over from back home, so we’ll probably head out later. Maybe the Honest Lawyer.”
It was a complete lie. Trolley was telling me about being at the Lawyer the night before, so it was the first thing that came to mind. Kate’s here, sure enough, but there were no plans.
Even though we share the same name, we live in different worlds. Jeff looks like he’s been carved out of marble, shoulders exaggeratedly broad with a stiffened superhero gait. His facial hair is simultaneously gruff but handsome, always trimmed in way that shows he takes care of his appearance. The stylist who always has some form of colour in his hair, whether it’s spikes or highlights or chunks, and looks like he could pass for anything between 20 to 30.
Once, after walking me over to the hydraulic chair, one of the slimmer ones that are found in salons instead of barbershops, we started to discuss the lack of decent metal bands from Canada. I told him that I was looking for more Breach Of Trust songs online (Jeff has the two first albums), which prompted him to ask, “You have a computer?”, without a single pause of the sheers.
The question left me dumbfounded. It took me a few moments to realize that not everyone has a computer, my bias coming from the fact that my friends all have one, being a graduate of comp sci. Almost everyone I know is also in an economic class to be able to afford such a luxury, with a lifestyle to actually have a use for one.
Last time, he told me about running out of disposable dishes, not owning more than a pair of plates he received as a tip once, and a tea stained mug, both of which have fallen into desuetude. “I’ve never liked to do the dishes”, he flatly stated.
In a reactionary manner, I asked him, “You don’t have a dishwasher?”, regretting the words the moment they came out of my mouth. “Oh god no”, was his insouciant reply, as if he’d have no use for it, even if he had one. As soon as I asked, I realized the insensitivity of my question, that not everyone would want a dishwasher, as strange as it seemed at the time. I’m at a point where I’d have a hard time living without one now, and an even harder time bringing a girl home, cooking a meal, and serving it to her on paper plates. A dishwasher has become a necessity for me, simply based on lifestyle, much like a computer. Sometimes it seems like I spend my life on my computer, and Jeff’s a person who lives completely without one. If I told him I didn’t have a car, I’m sure he would find it just as strange.
It was a startling realization. I don’t know many people without a college or university degree, without a long-term career or family plan. I don’t know anyone still living the bachelor life, happy to go out every night, and eat off disposable dishes. Jeff seems like a great guy, reserved until he feels out his clients, but friendly. I don’t know anyone like him, although I’m sure that there are many just like him.
And every time he cuts my hair, at the start of every appointment during the ritual washing, he asks about my plans for the night. Usually I tell him the truth. Nothing. It’s a weeknight, and I just worked a full day. That’s when he lets me know about his own plans, which generally consist of going out and drinking in some form or another.
But that day, I lied. It was a Saturday, and who doesn’t have plans on a Saturday night? I only feel guilty about it now, after being able to understand where he’s coming from. It’s only fair that I’m as honest with him as he is with me.
Even if we do live two totally different lives. Even if he may not understand.