I get a gay haircut

It is our fourth day in Leros and I need a haircut. Not that hair grows faster here than elsewhere, but before we left I thought it could be fun to get a haircut in Greece.

There's a salon 20-30 metres down the steep road from Platanos Square to Agia Marina. It says in the window that they take both women and men and speak English, German and French. Good, then I'll not get green stripes because of linguistic misunderstandings.

We arrive precisely at 9, but the door is locked. We wait a while and then have a Coke outside the bar next-door. Time and precision are not that important on a sleepy Greek island.

The hairdresser on Leros

A guy comes up to us and asks if we are here for a haircut? "Yes" I say, "I am." He is the hairdresser, but cannot open the shop, because some kids have put something into the lock. Right now he's waiting for the locksmith.

The hairdresser isn't tall. He has short hair and wears a loose shirt with long sleeves. He speaks excellent English, but his voice is kind of affected and languishing. His shoes are flat, but he moves like on high heels. Small coquettish movements that were probably once practised in front of a mirror have become habitual.

He is a amusing to watch. Gay with capital G. Nothing wrong with that, and homosexuality has antique traditions in Greece.

The lock is drilled

The handyman arrives and starts drilling the lock. He asks where we come from and says that he's from Berlin. I whisper to Helle that he is probably a ships carpenter and lives on Leros, because ships are scarce in Berlin. He is definitely not a locksmith. He drills and knocks energetically, but the lock doesn't give in.

The handyman and the hairdresser

The little hairdresser is sitting on a step waiting in dismay. After half an hour we loose patience, and I say that I'll return later.

When I return the door is open, but now three ladies are waiting for serious rejuvenation, so I leave once more.

Waiting for the hairdresser

The sign says that the salon opens at 16:30 after the siesta. I am there at 16:30 sharp, but the hairdresser isn't. The kid by the bar next door says that the salon opens at five. Okay then, let me have a Coke while I wait.

Five minutes past five the salon is still closed. 16:30 is probably 17:30, I think, and go to the supermarket for some light shopping before I return to my post on the pavement. I have waited for so long now that I must see the end.

Two ladies arrive and pull at the closed door. They say in English with an accent that they are here to get a haircut. "So am I," I say and shift my position to signal that I was here first and have waited for some time.

The hairdresser arrives a couple of minutes to half past five. He has changed to a tight white cotton blouse with long broad sleeves, and is his wake is a nougat coloured young man with doe eyes. The doe carries a pile of towels.

The door is unlocked and the customers wait, while the hairdresser bustles about. He needs music, and the right lamps are lit. He talks with the Swiss ladies in fluent French and asks the doe, who is from Brazil, to please not leave.

I don't know what suddenly urges the doe to come over and greet me, but he does. He puts out his hand and says in a soft voice:

"I am Nelson. He cuts my hair."

I am sure he does. I grab the hand, and it gives in like a sponge. Surprised, I squeeze to feel if there are any bones.

At last I get a haircut

At last I have a seat in the hairdresser's chair. I am covered with a sheet with sleeves. It is like a straitjacket without buckles. I order 45 days' rejuvenation and finally get my haircut.

The scissors work with tremendous speed and no coquettish movements whatsoever. It is all over in less than 15 minutes, and I pay 13 euro. Ladies are charged 18 euros or more, but one must take into account that they usually require more than 45 days.

Satisfied with my rejuvenation I say goodbye to the gay hairdresser, the doe and the ladies. If you come to Leros and want a haircut, be prepared it might take some time.

Evening in Panteli

Helle is feeling better. She has suffered from the mosquito bites she got the other day - they don't just itch, they also provoke an allergic reaction of not feeling well.

At 19:40 we stroll to the bay for dinner. As we study the menu at Drosia's, the proprietor (or waiter) says that today's special is lamb cooked in some special local way, the secret of which I have now forgotten. It sounds good, so we have a seat.

When the waiter arrives to take our order, the traditional lamb is suddenly sold out. It was just a hoax to get customers. We are so early that they cannot have sold out anything.

Taramosalata - roe salad

Well, now that we have been conned let us see what the house has to offer. We order roe salad for starters and lamb for main course.

The lamb is excellent and is served in a tomato sauce with a hint of cinnamon. The potato fries are not crisp, but not quite as soggy with oil as experienced before. All in all quite good and even though we were conned, we have not been cheated.

Helle generously shares cartilage and fat with the small elegant cats. There is also a small dog playing with one of the cats. They are full of pep thanks to Helle's nutritious titbits.

We finish off with coffee and Metaxa. The two Metaxa cost 6 euro and the bill says 33.90. Cheap.