Shampoo by Daniel Uncapher


After the Recession hit, I was forced to declare creative bankruptcy, and I resorted to going out into the world and asking other people if they had any ideas.

When I went to the salon I asked why the price had increased $3 and the stylist blamed the Recession, so I paid up and considered it fare for my real inquisition. I sat down in the chair and he spun me around, like a little boy, to face the mirror.

I explained my situation: it was a Recession, and I’d run entirely out of ideas.

The stylist suggested that I think about my childhood and write about a memorable event. Did you have an exciting childhood? I was bookish, I said. He suggested I revisit some of my old ideas and try to make something new out of them. I asked him not to use the clippers on me: scissor-cut only, I said.

He had hotdog fingers and I wanted to take one in my mouth and have a chew. He scratched behind my ear with his fingernail by accident and apologized. I held in a fart. He stroked the back of my head. Here’s an idea for you, he said. You’re someone who reads a lot of books, and then one day you’re in a car accident and get amnesia, and you can’t remember what’s a real memory and what’s from a book.

I don’t think I’ve seen that before, I said. He smiled at me. That’s because I just came up with it, he said. He was proud. Good, I thought. You should be very proud.

He cut my hair shorter than I wished and then asked, Can I shampoo you? We moved to the shampooing station and he wetted me down. I could feel his penis brushing against my shoulder through his black jeans. It was probably circumcised. He talked about his wife. He offered to blow-dry me. Dry me down, I said. I closed my eyes and felt the hot air like breath on the back of my neck, and I didn’t mind it one bit.

I tipped him $5. Before the Recession hit and they had to raise their prices, I would’ve tipped him 8.




Daniel Uncapher is the Sparks Fellow at Notre Dame, where he received his MFA. His work has appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, Tin House Online, Baltimore Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Neon, and others.


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