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It was time for get hair cut. I knew it because my neighbor Charlie-Boy sed: "what da bah bah shop wen burn down?" Man, dat Charlie-Boy for get smut. I also knew it because my muddah sed: "We going stop at da barber shop afta school tomorrow."

"Yeah, cut 'em short dis time" my dad chimed in, "dat way you get your money's worth."

Oh no. I was going to that rat bite place again. I neva like da japanee lady at the plantation barber shop. It was one "cut" fit all. No matter what your style hair, shape head, how big or small your ears ... every body came out looking the same ...rat bite.

"Ma, we no can go da uddah barber shop in Haleiwa?" I whined. "Da lady ova dea, she know how for do box cut." BOX CUT, man. That's the LOOK. My city cousins had BOX CUT. They were cool. I wanted a BOX CUT!

"We no more time for go all the way to Haleiwa." ma sed. "We going Kahuku Barber Shop right after school tomorrow.

Hooo da junk. I know how it was going to happen. First afta school going get choke customers at the barber shop. Not because she was that good, but that was the ONLY place in da camp fo' cut hair.

Well, not unless you count Domingo's house. Domingo cut hair right out of her...um...his house. We kinda neva like go that house because Domingo was ... um ... ok...you know how Michael Jackson look? Ok ... NOT like that. But kinda swishy and way too touchy for me.

Domingo had make up one flier. Now this was before xerox machines. It was mimeograph kine. Domingo worked at the elementary school as one custodian and had access to the mimeograph machine that the school used to make bulletins and forms for your parents fill out when going get field trip like Bishop Museum or sumting.

So the flier sed: "Domingo's International Salon ... Shampoo, Style, Cut, Perm." Oh yeah had one slogan on da bottom of the page: "If your hair is not becoming to you ..you should be coming to Domingo"

Um .. No! Not me. One kid's mother took him to Domingo's and he came out smelling sweet like one violet. And Domingo wen STYLE his hair. Was all fu fu and stuff with HAIRSPRAY. Hoo...dat kind still emotionally "challenged" down to dis day.

I think the "International" part was that Domingo went to cosmetology school which was in a very exotic place called "chinatown" in downtown Honolulu. He had his certificate of completion posted on the wall of his living room that doubled as a salon. Plus he sed his mother was from Spain and his father was from Manila. I guess when you put all that suff together .. He kinda was "Domingo International".

So there I am at Kahuku Barber shop afta school. The barber shop lady lived on one side of the house and on the other side she ran her business. She was a "all business" barber. "Next" she said in a sharp Japanee school teacher voice. She was shaking out the white sheet she used as a cover and putting the dollar bills from the last customer in her apron sweeping the floor wit one broom adding to the pile of hair in one corner.

"Eh...you guys sleeping out dea" she said to the gang of boys sitting on a well worn wooden benches on the porch. We were all reading comic books. I was into Green Lantern and Superman.

Couple old guys were reading the filopino newspaper. My friend Billy was looking at one old battered Field and Stream magazine. There were pictures of haole guys in yellow highwater rubber overalls holding up bass and perch.

"Eh, what da heck is 'hook and release?'", Billy was holding up a page from the magazine.

"I dunno," I sed, "mus' be some kind fishing term haoles use."

Later I wen ask my father. "Hoo...das when dey use one fishing hook no mo' barb on top. Dey catch da fish and den throw yum back in da wata. Stoopid no?"

I was amazed about two things. First my father was so smart. And second, dat haoles would throw fish back in the water that they caught. Eh, any fish that was at the end of the spear or the line ended up in the frying pan that night at our house!

"Next !!" Barber shop lady getting mad already, two kids pointing at me. Hoo man, it was my turn.

I thought maybe Domingo International Salon might be ok after all. He played "doo-wop" music on the record player. "In the still of the n-i-i-i-i-g-h-t ...oooh I held you s-o-o-o-o tight... shooo doo bee shooo be dooo...."

NAH! And be teased for the next 6 weeks in the cafeteria by Albert Mendonza and his boys. NAH! And nobody choose me for kick ball team ..cuz I still smell like one flower? NAH! And for da teacher say: "What a nice haircut!" NAH! I stepped up and took my punishment...

Looking like everybody else in Kahuku Elementary School...RAT BITE. Shiney patches of skin showing through the short hair that was shaved with number 3 clippers. The barber shop lady pushing your head down so your chin was touching your chest and pulling your ear to the right when she wanted to shave the left side.

I looked down at the locks of my hair rolling down the white sheet cape. Heavy sigh. The price we pay for uniformity. I sneaked a look ova at the next chair and there was a gray haired old lady sitting in it looking at me. "Bolo head" she cackled showing me a toothless smile. "Bolo head" she repeated.

"Hea" the barber shop lady handed me a mirror. "Ok?" she asked.

By da way. You NEVER EVER say it is NOT OK. If you do, she push your head down and get out the number 4 clippers and it's all ova. BOLO HEAD !!

"Yeah" I said. She wasn't waiting for the reply because when I said "Yeah" the sheet came off a split second before I finished saying the word.

I handed her the money which she put in her apron pocket. "NEXT!" she said as she shook out the sheet and started to sweep.. I was rubbing the back of my head. I could feel the bumps on my head.

I now understood "hook and release" .... I had just experienced it at Kahuku Barber Shop.

Maybe those haole guys in yellow highwater rubber overalls holding up bass and perch were on to something. They were wearing baseball caps. Hmmmm. What were they hiding under those caps?? Could it be ... RAT BITE !!!!.

About Author

Kamaka Brown is on staff at AW.  Originally from North Shore of Oahu, he now is a tropical transplant living on the West Coast.  He is a stand-up comic performing in clubs, concerts and other venues in Honolulu, Las Vegas, Pacific Northwest and Los Angeles.

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