barberpoleThe boys could no longer see through their thicket of bangs, which meant I could no longer put off getting them haircuts. So this past frigid Saturday, I took both boys to the barbershop.

As soon as we walked in, I realized why haircuts usually happen after school or much earlier in the day on the weekend: the small shop was filled with men, some flipping through magazines that Liam (had he seen them) would have called “inappropriate.”  A movie blared on the TV, blaring “inappropriate language”: every word some variation on fuck or shit. 

Okay. I’m not a prude (in fact, I’ve been told that I swear like a trucker) but this being my third day of Daddy’s-on-a-business-trip,  I was in no mood to answer questions like “why is he talking about cats?” and “what’s shooting up?”  So I tried to distract the boys with chitchat and lollipops, while the barber, a lovely Algerian man, asked them questions about soccer.

But then, in a moment of silence, one of the characters in the movie said “JESUS!” as he brandished a gun and ran out of the room.  Caleb’s clear voice echoed through the suddenly still barbershop: “JESUS? What’s JESUS?”

It’s moments like these where I rue my decision (comprised mostly of inertia) not to find any kind of religious instruction for my children, even if only so they have the rudiments of cultural literacy.

I scan the barbershop—several closely shaven men sport ornate crucifixes dangling from their necks; the Algerian barber is maybe Christian maybe not; there’s an older man in the corner who looks like he might be Jewish. Just another Saturday afternoon in New York…so I punt:  “um…well…Jesus was a man a long time ago who some people think helps them to be nicer to other people in the world.”

Caleb nodded.  “Can we watch soccer?” 

Thus endeth the lesson.