As I waited for my 2:30pm haircut appointment, I bought a fifty cent cup of lemonade from the kids next to Rudy’s Barbershop on NW 13th at Davis. It tasted bitter and quenched the summer heat. A woman walked by reading from My Antonia, part of the Reading Out Loud series, and I felt tranquil and open to possibility.
About two dozen 5th graders from Glenfair Elementary School (in the Reynolds School District) descended upon Rudy’s Barbershop (13th and Davis) to cut hair, talk up customers, and express their own creativity. They were selected by teachers for their responsibility and excitement to do the project. Of course, I booked an appointment.
I watched four ten-to-twelve-year olds cutting different people’s hair, working confidently and whimsically. Knowing I was next, I looked for these young stylists to be nervous or uncoordinated, but my expectations were upturned by their skill and enthusiasm (each had only four hours of training by Rudy’s Barbershop employee Ariel Caballero). Leave all vanity at the doorstep, and leave your hair to the hands of a 5th grader. Ignore the yellow caution sign in front of the barber’s chair.
My stylist, Alina, 10 years old, started out timid, barely cutting my hair and regularly asking Ariel for his opinion. I had asked for a trim, and she wasn’t always sure how much to cut. He kept reminding her that she is the artist, I’m sitting there prepared for anything, and that she should trust her creativity. Instead of answering questions, he asker her, “What do you think?” She started to make choices. Her hesitation melted into more confident decision-making, empowered and self-assured. By the end, she globbed gel on the back of my head with gusto, molding my hair as she pleased. At least for one day, she was a diva stylist.
Posted by Dusty Hoesly