By Robert Lalah
Well, this is a little awkward. My barber shop shares a building with a salon, and although the space is clearly divided, you can still see what's going on in there. The benefit to this over the years has been an elevation of aesthetic appeal in otherwise drab surroundings. Beautiful women of all ages would glide their way in and out, beaming with the pride and boosted confidence that come with a new hairdo.
Now I've been going to that barber shop since I was a teenager, so as a young man befuddled by, but utterly enamoured with, the opposite sex, it was always a pleasure to watch them as I sat waiting for my turn in the barber chair.
But there's been a change of late. These days, there seem to be more men than women showing up at the salon for various twists, plaits, colours and perms. And I am not amused.
Recently, as I sat there flipping through a beat-up copy of last December's TIME Magazine, I glanced over at the salon. To my horror, there staring back at me were two big-headed fellows and a beady-eyed character with a missing front tooth. I quickly returned to my magazine.
I know, of course, that people are free to do whatever they want with their hair. It's nobody's business but their own, and if they wish to experiment with elaborate styles and fancy colours, more power to them. I'm just a little stung by the encroachment.
You have to wonder what's next, though. I mean, where exactly is this train headed? When I was younger, almost only women wore earrings. But some men apparently thought the look was simply fabulous and decided to get in on the piercing action. Now it's a bona fide unisex style, and to suggest otherwise makes you seem like the fashion fool.
It was the girls who had plaits in their hair back then, and the bigger the occasion, the more ostentatious the design. Things really do change quickly.
In this flawed society we've created, dancehall DJs occupy a privileged space. They're widely regarded as bastions of masculinity and are arbiters of style and conduct. So, to get an idea of what's acceptable and what isn't as far as fashion trends go, they can provide us with fascinating informa-tion. I've been doing some careful research, and the discoveries have been en-lightening, albeit equally disturbing.
These days, sup-posedly hardcore DJs boast during interviews about their intricately designed hairdos and wear jeans designed for women, sporting them low enough at the back so as to expose their nether regions, ostensibly to the delight of the ubiquitous band of merry men they have following them around.
Flashy jewellery is a must, and the tighter the T- shirts, the better. Face bleaching is acceptable, but if that's too daring for you, just wash your face 10 to 15 times a day to maintain that 'cool' look.
Sunglasses must be worn at all times. This is not negotiable. Day, night, indoors, outdoors, rain or shine, it doesn't matter. Being caught without sunglasses is an unforgivable faux pas.
When addressing friends, it's important to remember that you must use the word 'dawg'. I know you're thinking I'm trying to trick you, but it's true. It's perfectly acceptable to call people, even those you actually like, 'dawg', and they'll happily respond.
It took me a while to accept this one, since to call someone a 'dawg' back in the not-so-long-ago past was an offence punishable by a sharp slap to the face. But dawg is now a term of endearment and affection shared among society's most manly men.
All this boggles the mind. To think that all these changes have taken place in such a short time really makes you wonder what will be normal in five or 10 years. Will men be wearing skirts while out watching a movie at Carib? Will they sport eyeshadow and lipgloss to the doctor's office? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Robert Lalah, assistant editor - features, is author of the popular 'Roving with Lalah' feature. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.