Monday, July 23, 2012

Saulo Plays Barber

Placing a lot of trust in a friend!
When a 14 year old offers to cut your hair, alarm bells start to go off. Maybe it would be funny to let them do it, just to see what the finished result would look like and take some pictures that prove you put your life in someone else’s hands. But would you really go through with it? I had my doubts, but I finally said yes, after Saulo kept offering to cut my hair at a bargain price ($0 tala, which in the U.S. is equal to 0 dollars)!

For nearly the past three years, I’ve been getting my hair cut in the capital at a small barber shop called Brian’s. Even going there the first time—where they have professional looking equipment like clippers and barber chairs—was a real test of faith. But I soon realized they were a top notch outfit. Sure it was a bit different than the barber shops in the U.S., say for example the dozens of beer bottles stacked along the back wall, the racy photos hanging over the mirrors and the electrical wires which shorted out—if there was electricity at all! But nonetheless, it was good service and at 12 tala, $7 U.S. dollars cheaper than any place in Michigan.

My expectations when I walked over to Saulo’s house were mixed. I went to his house fully expecting I may be making a trip to Brian’s the next day to have “repair work” done. For the most part though, I wanted to go through with it to show Saulo that I trusted him and to build up his confidence. He told me he had cut a couple other guys’ hair in the village, although I never got to see the results before I got the scissors taken to me.

By coincidence, the challenge became even more interesting when I ran out of daylight hours and he was forced to cut it after dark. Even he had hesitations about cutting after dark when the light wasn’t as good. But we pressed on and he directed me to his family’s outer Samoan kitchen where he had me sit in a plastic chair next to a pile of coconut husks and an earthen oven.Luckily, there was no full size mirror in front of me, so at least I didn’t have to watch it unfold in a panic. I took off my glasses and tried to relax.

Our biggest laughs came each time he wanted me to turn another direction, which since there was no fancy barber chair that rotated, required me standing up and sitting down every few minutes. I also found yet another use for an ie lava lava, when he wrapped one around my neck to serve as an apron. Milo was nearby with the camera to capture my leap of faith. Each time Saulo finished a side and backed away to get a good look, the smile on his face got larger and he got giddy with excitement, clearly proud of the work he was doing. I was just imagining what he thought was “good” might actually be horrendous.

The final unveiling came after about 25 minutes when Saulo brought over a small broken mirror for me to look into. I suddenly was shocked, surprised and overwhelmed at how amazingly well he cut my hair. Although the light wasn’t the greatest, I couldn’t see any difference from the haircut he gave me and the ones I use to get in town. In fact, I told him that I had had haircuts in the United States from licensed professionals who cut worse than him—a lot worse! I even told him about— and then showed him where— my dad cut my ear when I was an infant. I teased him about cutting my ear, but luckily, he never did. I was so proud of him, and I told him so. I suggested that he open a business and make a little money.

Although he had told me it was a free cut, I gave him $5 tala which he was pleased about. I told him I’d be bragging about my haircut and that I’d be back next month for another trim. I’m glad I took the bold step and trusted in my friend. Malo lava Saulo!

Saulo taking a swipe at my ear!

Attention to detail.

Two weeks later the hair is growing out nicely! Thanks Saulo!


  1. Haircut at mate's rates! Best kind! I love how Samoans are so handy with their hands.

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