Saturday Night: Barbershop at the Chicheria

A friend and I were talking about our families. Really, we were talking about whether our families were ‘normal’.

Apparently she’d thought her family was normal and then her son told her they weren’t. Me, on the other hand? I’m not sure I’ve ever thought there was anything normal about our party of five. From young Percy yelling ‘that’s a RIP-OFF!’ at anything his brothers propose, to the six year old Hen reading The Hobbit (minimal comprehension be darned) just so he can WATCH THE MOVIE (he’s currently on page 170) and the Gort who made a hobo sack for last week’s first picnic of the year (err, eating bags of chips at a picnic table in the park)….by taping together a scarf with pieces of clear tape and stuffing apples inside it.

I’m not even sure where he heard the term ‘hobo sack’. I guess if I were a more normal mother, I’d have asked him about it. Actually, I believe I did, I just can’t remember what he told me.

It was Saturday, early evening and, at a time when most normal people might be thinking about dinner – either the making or serving of it, I looked at my boys’ shaggy hair and told them it was time for a buzz. ‘Go tell Daddy he needs to give you a buzz,’ I sent the Hen to the bowels of the basement to extricate the professor who was working on a paper about who-knows-what.

If I were a more normal wife, I might have asked ‘what’s that paper you’ve been working on all week about.’ Actually, I read the thing in its entirety, and I still couldn’t tell you what it was about. Yada yada yada….keypoints.

[Now you know as much as I do.]

So the professor abandoned his subterranean theoretical world in favor of three boys and a pair of clippers. But first, he turned on the ipod. Because the man does not like to work in silence. Or, should I say, ‘the absence of music’, since three boys protesting their imminent haircuts is not exactly a silent endeavor.


Yes, whereas I prefer working without any noise – musical or boy-related – the yin to my yang pumps up the jam until my ears are thumping. ‘What’s that word, for the place where they’d play the loud music that you’d hear until late at night when you were growing up?’


‘Chicheria,‘ he laughed, either at my inadequate description, or the memory of lying awake in Bolivia, listening to the loud music and imbibed laughter coming from the nearby ‘unlicensed business’. All while one kid is running around wearing rainboots and underwear and another is sporting bright blue cleats and the new 3/4 zip shirt I bought him and they’re blowing the mini bubbles someone just got from a loot bag at a birthday party.

‘Yeah, I feel like I’m living in a chicheria,’ I said. Or maybe I just thought it, overwhelmed by the voluminous repetition that is Los Fabulosos Cadillacs singing Matador. Of course, in lieu of chicha, all we have at Chicheria Johnson is an ipod that won’t quit, a set of clippers….and three hairballs.

Yes, I went to the basement to deal with some laundry, and when I came back, there – on my table – sat three mounded clumps of hair, their (former) owners’ names written underneath each clump in the professor’s distinct archiscript.


I dutifully documented said clumps, and then I requested their owners dispose of them. The Hen obliged, ‘yeah, they’re creeping me out,’ and dumped his in the garbage. Percy refused, ‘I want to play with it,’ as did his oldest brother.

‘I want to keep mine…for science.’





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