Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dean's first haircut

A few weeks ago, I finally talked Jorge into letting me take Dean to get his hair cut. Jorge has a thing about the boys' hair; he seems to think they are little Samsons (Samsonites?), and that their power is in their hair. Also, Jorge refuses to let a woman cut their hair, because, according to him, if the hairdresser happens to be pregnant, the boys' hair will be ruined. He will tell you his own tragic tale, of the thick, luxurious wavy locks that were magically transformed into tight little wiry coils, all because his mother took him to have his hair cut at a woman's salon instead of a barber shop.

But my mother-in-law Dora and I put the full-court press on him, and he relented. On one condition - he got to pick the place.

We went to Doran's, a barber shop just up the street, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

It was a fittingly manly place, and also charmingly Irish, with a handful of men sitting around on benches just chatting. Everyone was very excited to see Dean experiencing the coming-of-age ritual, and quietly taking bets as to whether or not he'd cry.

I'm proud to say he did just great, not a tear, or a cry, and certainly not the agonized writhing that Milo used to whip out on such occasions.

I have to admit, I have been clinging to Dean's baby-hood much longer than I did with Milo. and it's always a little bittersweet to see your baby's little locks go, but now he looks so much more like the little boy he is becoming. My handsome little guy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Things that are strange here

In many ways, I'm experiencing far more culture shock moving to Europe than I ever did moving to Africa. I often find myself saying to Jorge or Milo, when explaining why we can't do something they suggest, "This isn't Africa, OK? People are weird here." (Come to think of it, that was a frequent phrase while we were in Seattle as well. But not New Orleans. Hmmm.)

So, here's a short list of some of the things I just find strange:

  • There are computer repair shops and internet cafes, and there are many of them. I thought those sorts of compaines went out of business in the Western world ages ago.

  • We had out first parent-teacher meeting with Milo's preschool last week. His report said "Milo is enthusiastic in making friends. Hopefully that will improve in time."

  • Movie theater seats are assigned, and if you decide that you do not in fact want to sit in one tiny cluster of people, while the rest of the theater sits empty, you will be reprimanded.

  • However, if you nearly run over someone, blatantly litter on the street, or start fighting while walking home from school, everyone will look away and pretend that you don't exist.

  • Although unemployment is at an all-time high and wages have been stagnant for years, everyone still seems to have enough money to drop $1,000 dollars on a stroller.

  • The government pays you for having children. You just have to pop out kids, and voila, 200 dollars in your bank account each month, for every child.

  • You cannot buy rubbing alcohol at the drug store without a prescription.

  • Restaurants somehow get away with charging 25 dollars for a cheeseburger, plate of pasta, or pizza - and yet remain full of customers.

Now, this isn't to say that people here aren't lovely, and for the most part quite friendly, but it's still all so very different. I think it will be a long time before we stop feeling like complete and utter foreigners here, despite the fact that, for the first time in half a decade, we look like everyone else on the outside.