Saturday, April 1, 2017
Lane Cruises a Gay Barber from 30 Years in the Past
West Hollywood, January 1982
This is Lane's weirdest paranormal experience:
When he was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, he and his parents often went to the Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. It was one of those old-fashioned multi-story department stores with everything under the sun: sportswear, furniture, candy, bedspreads. He especially liked the toy section, where cute sales clerks would always ask "Can I help you, sir?" and make him feel special.
As an adult, Lane preferred gay-themed shops, so he went to the Broadway only occasionally, when he needed something that you couldn't get in West Hollywood.
That day in January 1982, he was shopping for a new comforter for his bed -- housewares, on the sixth floor.
As he walked down the aisles of sheets, towels, bedspreads, and pillows, he suddenly felt light-headed, and the room seemed to get darker. He thought he might faint.
Looking for a place to sit down, he walked toward the north side of the store, and saw a sign reading "Barber Shop."
He didn't remember a barber shop on that floor, but he pushed through a frosted-glass doorway.
It was very old fashioned, nothing like the modern hair salons that Lane usually went to. Wood paneling, fluorescent lamps, frayed red chairs, jars of weird green liquid with combs floating in them. Hair on the floor. An old black-and-white tv set was playing the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, with the sound off.
Several men in suits were waiting their turn, leafing through Field and Stream magazine or newspapers. One was staring a the tv screen.
You'd think barbers would have nice haircuts, Lane thought.
The other barber was middle aged, wearing horn-rimmed glasses. They must be father and son.
Lane wasn't feeling sick anymore, and his cruising instincts started up. Maybe he could flirt a little with the young barber (he thinks he was named Steve), find out if he was gay. He sat down in a chair that gave him a good view.
Soon Steve said "You're next."
"No, these other guys were here first," Lane protested.
Lane didn't really need a haircut, but he sat down in the frayed red chair. Steve pumped him up and tied a mesh cape around his neck.
"Wow, you're as shaggy as a beatnik. How long has it been since you got a good scalping?"
"About two weeks," Lane admitted.
"Well, your old guy did a bum job. Don't worry, I'll fix you right up. The latest style." He ran his fingers through Lane's hair. "You'll be ready to wow the ladies in no time."
Heterosexist! Lane didn't usually come out to strangers, especially strangers with scissors in their hands, but it was insulting for the guy he was trying to cruise to mistake him for a breeder. So he said "You mean wow the guys. I'm a fag."
Lane laughed. "And his pants, too?"
"Maybe if you ask him nicely."
They chatted about other things -- Lane didn't remember what, maybe I Love Lucy.
Suddenly he felt sick again. He jumped from the chair and ran through a back door to what he hoped was a bathroom. It was a supply closet: bottles of green stuff, extra aprons, brooms, mops.
Any port in a storm. Lane knelt and threw up into a mop bucket.
Suddenly Steve was there, kneeling beside him, his arm around him.
"Hey, buddy, you're sick," he said softly.
"Yeah. Must have been that sushi I had for lunch."
"I don't know what sushi is, but I'll bet you never have it again." Steve pulled him to his feet and helped him to the real bathroom to wash up.
"Come on -- don't worry about the haircut. I'll take you home."
"That's ok, I can manage," Lane said. He was in no mood to cruise, if that's what Steve intended. He could always come back tomorrow.
"Well, at least let me call you a cab."
"No, really, I'm feeling better."
"Definitely. It's a date."
Lane stumbled out into the bright light of Housewares, took the elevator to the parking garage, and went home.
Only then did he notice the crazy old-fashioned haircut Steve gave him. It would take a month to grow out!
The next day Lane went back to the Broadway.
The barber shop looked completely different. Modern steel and glass furniture. Pictures of supermodels on the wall. Three hair sylists, one female.
No one with Steve's name or description worked there!
Did he imagine the whole thing?
A few days later, he told his father about his weird paranormal experience.
"There was a men's barber shop on that floor years ago, run by a father and son," Aaron said. "That was back when your mother and I first married. The son may have been named Steve, I don't remember."
"Was he gay?" Lane asked.
Aaron shrugged. "Who knows? We didn't air our dirty laundry in public back then. He may have been a little fruity, but I didn't think anything of it."
Did Lane take a "step to the left" that day in 1982 and end up cruising a gay barber thirty years in the past?
See also: A Time Traveler from the 1980s Brings Me Guys