The Clip Joint

Al Billings

sam happy

Sam the barber has been cutting my hair for a long time, usually a Marine boot-camp special. I’m always taken by how delicately balanced his operation is, moving constantly from one shop to another, currently trying to hold down his chair while the greedy Chinese woman who leases the building continues to give him less hours every week. We’re Sam’s people, and we cherish his presence. His expert hair-cutting and deep local knowledge of the area means that conversation with him will be rich and full-bodied, English or Spanish, and at the moment, Mondays only. Oltorf and Congress, the Twin Oaks shopping center, that’s where the real action is.

Sam can cut hair, run a conversation with anyone who enters the shop, and supply us with endless vignettes he’s plucked out of the atmosphere, multi-tasking as assuredly as a Boeing 777 pilot coming in for a late-night landing in a driving thunderstorm.

Stout and rotund, you’d think that his portly girth would hinder him, but in fact, he moves with the grace of an Olympic figure skater. I can imagine him now, rotating slowly on a single toe, picking up speed and whirling himself into a blur, dervish-like, until he lifts off and flutters gracefully over the rooftops below, giving the virtual finger to the self-important hipsters down the street who’ll pay twice the price, just so they can have their asses kissed. Fuck that. Go see Sam. You’ll never regret it.

July 23, 2014 10:40 am

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