Shifting gears

Fri, 04/16/2021 - 11:45am

“You know, it seems that the world is opening up and I might be able to finally get a flight to Argentina, but if I came home to see my husband with a haircut, well that would
really be something to see,” said Cindy.
“You can’t just trim it a little bit,” I asked, “you did a good job last time.”
“It’s beyond anything I could possibly do,” said Cindy.
“Well, you know this whole pandemic makes it hard for a guy to get a haircut,” he said, “ya know, it’s hard to get an appointment. Just sayin’.”
“Ahem, places are open,” she said.
With this little conversation the gauntlet had been thrown down, and unbeknownst to my wife her husband had shifted gears, hard; he’d power-shifted from first to second gear. I’d pushed the haircut thing as far as I possibly could and knew it was time to do something. (For those of you who have driven a stick shift, I know you get the drift of this power shifting metaphor.) The next morning while taking Maddox out for a run, I called Pete’s Barber Shop in Peace Dale to finally make an appointment. As it turned out, Pete Tsagaroulis—who I’ve known since he was a student at Narragansett High School—was open for business at the early hour of 7 a.m.
“Hey Pete, it’s old man Houlihan and I need a haircut. Can you hook me up,” I asked, “I’m looking pretty shaggy.”
“Hey, Joe, I gotcha. Come by in twenty minutes, “he said, “your regular guy is here.”
“I’m there, see you in twenty,” I said.
Bingo! Things were dialing in on the quick step. It had been twelve months since I’d gotten a real haircut, and when I got to Pete’s my regular guy made short work of getting me all cleaned up and presentable.
When I came home with Maddox my wife was speechless. Her jaw literally dropped when she saw me; it all happened so fast. Without question there must’ve been lots of haircut drama in the last twelve months. And, I’m sure there were lots of men and women who like myself said the hell with it and just let things get out of hand. However, there comes a point when action must be taken. In mid March, I knew I was in need of a haircut when I had to get my picture taken for my TWIC card, which is required for
working at the ferry. My wife’s suggestion simply was placed at a perfect time for immediate action.
Note some other ways we are all shifting gears:
• When the pandemic kicked in last March and we were required to wear masks, one of the things my wife noticed was that people weren’t making eye contact. Twelve months in, and we are now looking at people’s eyes while wearing our masks. Moreover, we can get a better read if people are smiling when they make eye contact, because we’re using our intuition. That’s a good shift because we know we’re all in this together.
• The seasons are changing as the temperatures are shifting and daylight stretches into the evening hours. I saw a bunch of daffodils popping up in Newport last week. As of 20 March, spring has sprung. Springtime is always a huge gear shift after a long winter; however, this year things seem more urgent.
• I’m seeing lots of new faces at the ferry dock these days. It seems from what I see at the car shack that there are new home owners on Block Island. Also, the word around the campfire is that lots of houses were bought and sold in the past twelve months. I hear the same thing about Martha’s Vineyard.
• The ospreys are back in town, rabbits are scurrying all around Galilee, the deer are scouting for grub all over the place and the hefty harbor seals are still feeding off the
scraps that come off the draggers in the harbor. Certain things just don’t change. They just naturally shift.
• Sailboats are appearing on moorings in Newport and Jamestown, local seafood restaurants are ramping up for the season, and the state and town beaches are getting
ready for what will undoubtedly be a busy summer. Building supplies and lumber trucks are showing up in Point Judith as supply and demand economics dictates the flow
of product. There’s been lots of freight which is a good shift.
• Besides the standard greetings and salutations at the dock heard this time of year, I’m hearing things like, “Hey, did you get your shots?” “Hey, cool mask!” “Is the Portside
open?” “What’s the deal with that big blue building?” “Is the state parking lot open?” “Is the standby lot open, yet?” “Do you think the ferry will run tomorrow?” “How many cars are on standby?” “How many cars fit on the ferry?” “Are you kidding? I have to back onto the ferryboat?” “Are the fish tacos really that good at George’s?” “Can I get
someone to drive my car on the boat? I’m not good at backing up.” “What’s going on with that building across the street?” (The Dutch Inn) “I just got my shots. Can my car
go on last?” “When does the 9 o’clock ferry leave?” “Will the boat ride be rough?”
• After the past twelve months, small talk has became big talk at the ferry dock. It doesn’t matter how inconsequential the topic is, it’s better than talking to yourself in your
car or at home. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) People have been indoors way too long and are finding any social interaction whatsoever—no matter how trivial—is a really big deal. And often fascinating. Talking face to face rather than zooming is a very big deal these days.
• Finally, the whole zoom thing has me shaking my head and I can’t see myself ever shifting into that method of communication. I just don’t like it. Moreover, I’d like to hear
less of that very word, and I hope this coming season we can all just get on the same page and finally shift our way out of this pandemic, so down the road we can smile
again and look each other in the eye while we’re getting our haircut, hopefully without a mask. ‘Nuff said.