Monday, July 18, 2011
MR. BACCIAGALUPE THE BARBER
I was notified the other day that it is about that time for a haircut. For as long as I can remember, I have dreaded the barber, maybe that is why when I was younger, I wore my hair really long.
Let me tell you a story........
When I was real young, maybe about six or seven, there was a barber that my father always took me to. He was located on Coney Island Ave between Ave. Y and Ave. X. The sign on the store said, "Barbershop." For the life of me, I never knew what the actual name of the place was nor did I know what the barber's name was. All I knew, he was an Italian immigrant with limited English skills. He looked exactly like the character from the Abbott and Costello Show, Mr. Bacciagalupe. That establishment was always known to me as Bacciagalupe's Barbershop.
There was always a whole lot more going on in this barbershop than just cutting hair. If you wanted your taxes done, you went to Bacciagalupe's. If you needed a tip on the horses, you went to Bacciagalupe's. If you needed anything in the neighborhood, you went to Bacciagalupe's.
My father would walk me over to Bacciagalupe's and we would both go in and have a seat. Bacciagalupe's was a very tiny barbershop. It had two chairs, one by the window and one by the backroom. I was always good at math and I was always amazed that such a small place would have two chairs and only Bacciagalupe. If I spoke Italian, I think I would of brought up the waste of prime real estate with that extra barber chair. Bacciagalupe would always come out of the backroom when he heard us and he would point to the chair. The chair that he would point to was always the one by the backroom. Never did he point to the chair by the door. The amazing thing about this barbershop was I never had to wait, there was never anyone before me or after me. This was another odd thing about Bacciagalupe's. I would hop up in the chair and he would look at my dad and say something in Italian. I guess he was asking, "How do you want it?", but who knew, and I am quite positive that my dad was completely clueless to what Bacciagalupe was asking. My father wouldn't just point to one of the numerous haircut pictures on the wall, he would get up out of his chair and start a conversation with Bacciagalupe, only my father would speak in Yiddish. They would both make hand motions around my head and after a minute they both nodded their heads in agreement and Bacciagalupe would cut away. Needless to say, I always walked out of there with the same haircut. I really do think that Bacciagalupe only knew one haircut.
One time as we walked into the barbershop, and go figure, there was no one there, I decided that when Bacciagalupe came out, I was already going to be in the barber chair by the window. My father sat down and I made my way to the front chair. I almost got to it when my father yelled at me in Yiddish, "Eisen Mishugena?" (Translated, What are you crazy?). I looked at my dad and he was waving me over to the two waiting seats. The man was waving so hard, I definitely was going to round third without stopping. I sat down and he said, "Do you know why you don't sit in that seat?", and I must of had that look on my face, that look I had throughout my childhood, that said, "I got nothing." That expression must of been part of my repertoire because my father also rounded third without stopping. He said, "They call that seat, the get whacked seat, if you sit in it and Bacciagalupe comes out and starts cutting, someone is going to come into the shop and shoot you. If he leans you back and starts to shave you, they will come in and cut your throat." My father reiterated, "It's called, The Get Whacked Seat." Thanks for telling me that. Another piece of information that I could've waited to learn on my own.
I have had a phobia of that first barber chair ever since.