Monday, July 12, 2010

Reader's Diary #629- Ring Lardner: Haircut


Perhaps it was the mention of Jim Kendall in Ring Lardner's "Haircut" that got me to thinking of my grandfather, Gordon Kendall. However, and fortunately, my grandfather had little in common with Jim outside of the surname. He did, however, have more in common with the narrator, Whitey.

Pop, as I used to my call my grandfather, was a storyteller of the finest caliber. If you could understand him, that is. From the small outport community of Ramea and the days before TV, pop's Newfoundland accent was thick, to put it mildly. I'd never had trouble understanding him but when I first started taking my wife, originally from Ontario, to visit, she'd find herself smiling politely while me and my grandmother went into hysterics over pop's tales of the good ol' days.

While Lardner's Whitey talks with his own grammatical idiosyncrasies, they're mild compared my pop's. Whitey's propensity to view the past through rose-coloured glasses, however, puts my pop to shame.

Have you ever been told about someone as if they were charming but to you they don't sound all that great at all? I remember once being told about someone who "tells it like it is and you gotta love her" but all the examples that were offered as proof just led me to believe that the person in question was just plain rude. Lardner must have found himself in similar circumstances because "the Haircut" plays upon those feelings.

As the reader, you find yourself in a barber's chair listening to Whitey, the barber, tell you the story of how Jim Kendall got killed. According to him, times just haven't been the same since. It's a quaint scene, this barbershop, and Whitey seems like a nice enough fellow. You want to hear this story and you want to believe that Jim was this likable guy who helped raise the town's spirits. It increasingly becomes more and more difficult to find the charm in Jim Kendall. And where this story is headed, that's just fine.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

1 comment:

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I just went over and read the story. I like the way the author wrote it. It seemed as if I were sitting in the chair listening to the barber tell the story.

I have a short story post today. You can find it here.