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sledding

Aira 1: Hair

It’s the late sixties and the young man is going back to his hometown for a short visit. He has grown out his air to assert his individualism and his rebelliousness. It’s not shoulder-length or anything, that would be later, but Beatle length, long enough to bother his mother, who harps on him to get it cut and even gives him money to do so, telling him that he can keep the change.

He leaves the house in a huff, slamming the door behind him, but decides to get his hair cut anyway. With the change he will buy a garish striped shirt that should also get on his mother’s nerves. “You look like a convict,” she will surely tell him.

He has never been very sociable, and in high school he would only talk to three of his classmates. On the way to the barbershop he meets one of them. After a bit of small talk, he continues on his way. Although his friend doesn’t mention it, he has certainly noticed the long hair. He goes to a barber, gets a conventional haircut, and on the way home runs into another of his old friends. They talk briefly, and our young man continues home.

At lunch, his mother praises his new haircut, which infuriates him even more. After lunch he has an idea: rather than using the change to buy the shirt, he’ll go to the other extreme. He’ll get another haircut. His hair, rather than being radically long, will be radically short. He goes to the barber around the corner and asks him to use the electric shaver, and to cut it as short as possible. The barber surely notices that he’s just had a haircut, but does as he is asked without saying anything.

Once he’s back home, his mother doesn’t even seem to notice that he’s had a second haircut. At one point she looks at him funny, but doesn’t say anything. He can hardly stand these visits back to his hometown, so after only one day, he decides to go back to Buenos Aires. On the way to the train station, he runs into his third friend. They exchange pleasantries, and he’s on his way. There is no mention made of his extremely short hair.

In just one day he’s seen all of his three friends, but at the first meeting, his hair is long; at the second, it's a normal length; while at the last, it's extremely short. When his friends meet, the first will surely remark how long his hair was, while other will say, “No, it was a normal haircut.” While the third will comment, “Normal? No, it was extremely short.”

They will never be able to solve the mystery of his hair.


(adapted from César Aira, Un sueño realizado)

Comments

Hairs looking at you, kid.

I had a hunch it was about you.

Re: Hairs looking at you, kid.

I never realized it, but thanks! Even better if it's about me.
sledding

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