Barbers Mark Maggiacomo and Alan Ferla had the time to watch Donald J. Trump take the oath as the nation’s 45th president, as Louie’s Barber Shop in Conimicut was quiet Friday at midday. Usually, both of them are working and three or four are waiting their turns.
Mark concluded most customers were probably home watching Trump on their TVs. But then the shop TV was tuned into what was happening in Washington and, as usually the case at Louie’s, there was no shortage of comments, observations and even an opinion on Trump’s hair from somebody who knows hair.
“It’s not a combover; it’s something different,” insisted Mark.
Alan wasn’t about to contest the assessment. He listened, and so did the three customers who were willing to offer their take on the president’s inaugural address, but held their tongues on the matter of his hair. Mark studied the screen.
“I guarantee when he combs it forward it would come down to his chin.” Mark studied the screen some more. “It’s raining. They ought to get him an umbrella or it’s going to come down.”
Nobody argued with Mark.
Politics is more frequently the topic of debate at Louie’s than hair. Mark and Alan guess that a majority of their customers voted for Trump although, as Mark points out, they never ask the direct personal question of how they cast their ballot.
Mark called the mood of clientele “cautiously optimistic. It’s a different approach than we’re accustomed to.”
He didn’t get any flak from James Bradford, who Mark circled with a pair of clippers.
“They ought to give him a chance,” said Bradford who predicted, “A lot of people are going to eat their words.”
Alan gave his take.
“I don’t want someone with a lot of background [in politics]. They’re all snakes.” He was critical of criticism heaped on Trump, adding, “They’re already putting him down and he hasn’t done anything yet.”
The conversation shifted to what was happening in Providence with high school students marching to the State House in protest. Mark ventured it “was dangerous” for the students to be walking and school authorities should have taken control and stopped the school walkout.
“They don’t even know what life is all about,” said Alan, who thought the action had little to do with Trump and was really aimed at getting out of class.
Bradford’s daughter, Naomi Sweet, who had given her father a ride to the shop, didn’t wade into the conversation. Bradford used to live in Conimicut and has been getting his hair cut at Louie’s for decades; now in his 90s and living in the Greenwood area he still comes back. She listened. Sweet said she “started off” voting for Bernie Sanders and when it got to the election she couldn’t vote for either Clinton or Trump. She picked Johnson.
“It’s supposed to be good luck,” Mark said of folklore about rain on a wedding day. He thought it could be the same for Donald Trump.
With a break in customers, Mark and Alan took a moment to focus on what Trump was saying. A customer walked in to join them standing in front of the tube. There was consensus that Trump’s inaugural address was remarkably similar to his campaign rhetoric, but that was just fine.
Trump’s promise to make the country great again was what Mark expected to hear.
“He just took out the baseball bat,” said Mark.