Part XXXIII: A Turkish Haircut, Kalkan, Turkey
Kalkan, Turkey
Kalkan, Turkey

Our last day in Kalkan. Dawn comes, humid with an oppressive sun rising. By some miracle I sleep through the 5:30 call to morning prayer, and so when I awake at 6:45, I feel pretty good.

Herself tells me that she thinks my hair is getting a bit shaggy. In that firm, no objections-will-be-entertained tone, she suggests that I pay a visit to the barber shop up the hill. We've passed this shop on several of our peregrinations ― its signboard promises to leave you “feeling like a sultan.” Well, I've always wanted to feel like a sultan, so perhaps this is my big chance.

Feel Like a Sultan. Kalkan, Turkey
Feel Like a Sultan. Kalkan, Turkey

Inside, I find two barbers working in a small cubicle that barely looks large enough to hold one. I take my place in one of the chairs and settle in for my first Turkish haircut. The opening movement is fairly standard: my barber flicks scissors and comb across my shaggy pate.

I am then directed to lean back for the beard. Gray hairs fly as scissors snap around my exposed neck. My barber is extremely thorough ― I would estimate that he spends ten minutes bringing my facial hair up to his exacting standards.

Next comes the mustache, and then, like a gopher, the scissors burrow up my nostrils, snipping out the deep-rooted nose hairs. It's difficult to breathe with someone chopping away inside your nose. From there he moves laterally to my ears, harvesting the forest growing on my lobes and at the doorway to my inner ear. That has to be it, I think, but no. A small black comb begins worrying my eyebrows and the scissors gnash merrily along.

Out comes the dusting brush, flipping stray hairs off my nose, cheeks, and chin. “Thank you,” I say as he whips off my cape. I begin to stand, but he pushes me back into the chair. “Wash next.”

Waterfront. Kalkan, Turkey
Waterfront. Kalkan, Turkey

Wash. Right. He guides me forward into the sink and then begins to hose my head with cold water. This preliminary ablution is followed by the application of a banana-scented shampoo, vigorous scrubbing, a second rinse, conditioner, scrubbing, and yet another douse of cold water.

He wraps a towel around my head and begins rubbing fiercely. Once satisfied, I am placed back into the embrace of the chair. He then extracts a pair of cotton balls from a large Bell jar. Both ears get the cotton ball treatment, interior and exterior buffed to a glossy shine.

Surely we must be done. But no. He cracks open a bottle of unguent, fills the palm of his hand, then slathers it onto my scalp. The sultan massage begins, and he probes my dying hair follicles with fierce fingers, working in circles around the crown of my head. Round and round, then down my neck, shoulders, and back. He pounds and gouges all of the knots out of my spine, then my arms and fingers. With a great last flourish, he tugs at the skin between each finger. Voila. Now my haircut is complete.

I suppose, if I really was a sultan, the treatment would be followed by a choice selection of harem girls, but 20 lira doesn't buy what it once did. I am very satisfied with the experience and the hair cut. There can be little doubt that the problems of each hair on my head have been addressed by this thorough treatment.

Kalkan, Turkey
Kalkan, Turkey

Tomorrow we shall turn westward and return to Europe. I go a better man, armed with the confidence that only a fine haircut can bring.

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Copyright, 2017 Richard J. Goodrich