Time for another haircut. I passed up a haircut in Barcelona opting for Bucharest instead as it sounded a bit more exotic to me. How could anyone in need of a haircut pass up a barber shop called Frize Bad?
Haircut in Bucharest, Romania
My long hair and the terribly hot weather in Bucharest were not a good match. However, my scruffy appearance likely helped me blend in better walking around the streets of Bucharest. Just as happened with the Barber of Seville, I waited until the last moment possible for a haircut. ( see: Barber of Seville ) Not knowing if appointments were needed, my alarm was set for 7:00AM and I was headed off for my overdue haircut. At Frize Bad there were eight barbers, most of them already with clients. I got paired with the shortest barber in the place. It was not clear how he would see the top of my head, so I slouched down as much as possible, until my knees hit the sink. That was the best I could do. It is possible this barber has never uttered a single word in English his entire life. My estimation was that he was in his 70’s, clearly old enough to have lived most of his life under the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, and the country’s emergence from the communist regime. I would enjoy speaking to such people about their experiences under Communism and how they learned of their dictator’s death by firing squad on Christmas Day 1989. This is the kind of person I would really enjoy speaking with, but there was not a word, only a few grunts from him and gestures from me indicating I did not want any of the styles pictured in the barbershop.
The Massage of a Lifetime
When getting a haircut in the States, I typically say no to all the available sprays and ointments. However, after viewing the complete works received by the large gentleman next to me, through pantomime I indicated the whole treatment was needed. The Romanian barber chairs do not recline for hair washing. Instead, my flexibility was tested by bending forward as much as possible into the sink. My guess is that the word “gentle” is not to be found in the Romanian barber handbook. Towels used were still wet from the prior customers. With my new wet frazzled hair, large amounts of the following liquid was squirted onto my scalp, followed by a head massage suitable for a Russian bear. The best way to describe the effects of this ointment is a combination of strong peppermint and hot sauce for the head. It burned, tingled and felt cool, presumable from evaporating alcohol. It is my guess I’m the only customer to ask to take a photo of the hair energizer.
The head massage soon extended to the neck, shoulders and arms. This is quite an experience for a guy who has never received a single professional massage. This was just the warm up. Next was an electric vibrator strapped to his hand moving around my face, nose, neck and ears and sounded something like a belt sander. All I could think of was the Seinfeld episode where George received a massage from a male masseur and his comment to Jerry.
The One Hour Haircut is Over…
At Great Clips in the States, after regular beauty school, beauticians and barbers are further trained to complete the haircut in 15 minutes or less. Here at Frize Bad in Bucharest, the combing of the hair alone took that long. First the big tooth comb, followed by a regular comb, then a regular hair brush, laying on the counter used by others and finally the brush like what you would use with a dust pan. My haircut took 55 minutes and was probably one of the two best I’ve ever received.
When I thought it was all over, an elderly lady jumps in and brushes me everywhere, front and back…. and I mean everywhere… This haircut cost 60 lei which is $15. My nameless barber seemed a bit confused about the tip, but accepted it. He certainly put in a lot of effort and cared more about my grooming than I do. I’m left wondering about his experiences in Romania before and after the revolution and where I’ll be getting my next haircut. Kotor, Montenegro sounds good to me.
Goodbye Frize Bad, Salon of Beauty.
What a good story!
Thank you for following along in our travels Reid. MORE to come, generally on Sundays.
Your writing always puts a smile on my face. A typically mundane experience has been elevated! Happy Fall!
I felt odd writing about a haircut, but it was such a unique experience. I also wrote about the Barber of Seville.
Sounds good to me, ever find out what’s in that hair tonic?
I did do some research and the only active ingredient they reveal is caffeine, of all things.
Thank youuuuuu. I’ll try and keep it up.
Hilarious Harold!! Loved the story and your comments! Keep on having fun.
Bonnie and Dave
Thank you Bonnie. However, we have learned we will never be able to travel as long or as avidly as you two.
Had you considered sharing the final results of you new Frize Bad dew?
Did you name it? Honey-Dew, Mil-Dew come to mind.
Both of my grand-fathers and 2 uncles were Italian barbers, all using that massaging thing in their hand with each haircut. They used to charge $.25. With a shave, 2 bits. The stories they would tell while performing their art was priceless.
Thanks for sharing.
That is quite a strong family line. Good you have fun memories of them and their stories.
Nothing like my haircut in Bulgaria. Bonnie got a great cut and so I decided to get my shaggy head cleaned up as well. With one swipe of the clipper from back to front I had a virtually bare scalp down the middle of my head. Sort of a reverse Mohawk. When she finished I looked like a new recruit into the Bulgarian Army–no more than a sixteenth of an inch of hair in sight! Not exactly what I was looking for in a simple trim, but as I walked the streets therearfter it was clear that if you are male and want a haircut in Bulgaria that was what you were going to look like afterwards!
You are going to love Kotor and Montenegro–spectacularly beautiful!
Now THAT’s a haircut worth a photo! I do not know what I would have done… what can you do, just make the best of it. I since got one in Sarajevo, nothing special. Unlike you, do to the sheer 😉 number of them, I can easily remember all my international haircuts.