The following is an immersion story written during the February 2010 snowstorms, which walloped Baltimore and much of the Mid-Atlantic Region with nearly four feet of snow. Here, a retrospective moment of amusement amid shared inconveniences–JCS
By Tony L. He
A Spell of Snow
It is an unlikely place for a barber shop. You would have trouble finding it even if someone directed you to cross the street from Charles Village Pub, walk down a small trail of steps (no need to be nervous), go through a glass door, knock on the second one, and wait for Marion, the silver-haired owner, to let you in after she makes sure that you are not a burglar.
Despite the odd location, Just Cut It has been around for some twenty years. It is a one-woman show, so Marion chooses freely when she wants to work. And no way was she going to drive to work with that snowstorm piling slush and ice all over Baltimore in the past few days.
When Friday arrives and drags along the sun, Marion finally reopens her one-room studio, a gem among many in Charles Village. Inside, overhead lamps give the black-and-white checkered tiles a clean shine. Posters of classics like A Woman’s Face decorate the walls, carrying customers to a time when movie promos featured hand-drawn artwork. On a receptionist’s desk, Marion keeps a booking calendar, two pencils, and a telephone. The answering machine must have collected more than fifty messages in the past few days—filled with clients canceling and changing dates and asking for availabilities.
One of those callers, a college kid badly in need of a haircut, squeezed into Marion’s 3:30 p.m. He arrives just on time, at 2:29, eager for Marion to snip away some of the weight resting on his head. As Marion seats him at the barber station, a woman in her forties—with ginger hair down to her shoulders—knocks on the door. Marion excuses herself to let in the customer. The woman appears to be a regular, giving a warm hello to Marion as she sits down in the waiting area.
A multi-disk player, which had been playing Jimi Hendrix, now switches to a Nina Simone album. Nina begins to sing “I Put a Spell on You.”
“So where’d ya park?” Marion asks.
“Oh, I found that space…” the woman responds, proudly detailing how she maneuvered her minivan into a small area vacated by another car. In these days after the storm, the nitty gritty of how people manage to get from place to place has become a staple of local conversation.
The woman’s eyes were half-closed and a little red. On a couple of occasions, she tries to relax the tense muscles in her neck by twisting her head slowly to one side while inhaling a deep breath. It’s been a rough few days. On top of shoveling snow out of her driveway, she had to work at home and spend long hours with the computer. Then, there is the husband who caught a cold, the disruptive kids who stayed home, and the hair that needed to be cut yet had to wait because only Marion “gets it right.”
“I know what ya mean,” Marion complains, “I had to come yesterday to shovel that snow.” Because the video rental people next door apparently piled their slush in front of the shop’s walkway, Marion spent a whole day creating a path for customers.
“So then I got over to the pub to grab lunch,” Marion continues, “but they…”
“…got nothing except chili and french fries,” the college kid says. He knows that the pub had run out of food because he went there yesterday, too.
The master barber, the college kid, and the ginger-haired woman share a laugh.