Sunday, September 18, 2011

Barbershop Community

by Pasckie Pascua
[column article, The Indie of Asheville. Oct 2011 issue, print version]

HOW many of us suspect that the “creepy” guy, a loner with a weird goatee, who just moved in a block away, could be a pedophile, an Al Qaeda cell recruiter, or a fugitive running away from a whatever crime in South Dakota? Who knows…
Or how many times have we typed in a precautionary post to the neighborhood yahoogroups mail list about a strange-looking, dark-haired man who frequents Mr Smith’s front yard. Maybe he’s a lookout for some Mexican gang, casing the gated village for house to burglarize?
We don’t know.
We don’t know who our neighbors are anymore. We are all busy googling what could be the profile of a prospective terrorist or thief or rapist or drug dealer. We don’t have time to drop by our new neighbor’s house and offer a chicken lasagna because we need to drive to our 3rd job after we just logged in 10 hours on our 2nd job for the day, or maybe—google has all these figured out, anyway.
Or maybe it’s more convenient to just check out the `hood and the world online or via tweets sent out by some paranoid divorcee or Facebook post by a transplant from California who had too much to drink last night and forgot her pills.
There was a time when we hanged out in the corner barbershop or coffeehouse for hours and bantered and chatted about the new girl on #46 Washington Drive or what’s up with the President’s State of the Nation address? We all played checkers or chess and made fun of Mike’s funny moustache or Jennifer’s new boyfriend from Kentucky—and nobody castigated us, like: “Hey, you’ve been sitting here for 5 hours and all you bought is a $1 green tea. Haven’t you got anything to do?”
That’s it.
Maybe, sometimes we need to do “nothing.” Nothing but hang out and get to know our neighbors and laugh and play checkers or make fun of Michele Bachman or Chad Ochocinco. Or, maybe we could all watch the Super Bowl in Mrs Jones’ backyard?
Who knows, maybe the “creepy” guy who just moved in a block away is actually a cool guy who cooks kickass mung beans soup and an expert in bedbugs? We’ll never know—unless we stride into the barbershop this afternoon.

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