One of my big plans for this Presidents Day holiday was to go get my eyebrows done, as well as to get a haircut. Unfortunately, I slept in a little late and didn't make it to the one-man barbershop as early as I would have liked. So I took a seat while one man was getting his hair cut, and two others--one with a small boy--waited ahead of me. Knowing full well that I'd never wait through two and possibly three more haircuts, I still loitered if for nothing else but the unique brand of entertainment that often occurs at a real barbershop (vs., say, a salon). I wasn't disappointed when, in the middle of the barber telling the man in the chair about the difficulties he had had last winter with his relatively new snowblower, which in turn made him sign a contract with a snowplow guy this year (the unsnowiest winter in some time), in walked a nice-looking young couple. The man held what looked like a box of donuts, so immediately the barber, definitely relishing his role of being the emcee of anything going on in his establishment, made some crack about giving a donut to everyone. The couple laughed, but then the woman, taking off her knit cap, got down to business. No, she smiled, there were no donuts in the box but, as the guy opened the box, there were "actually" these beautiful "windcatchers," which the couple was selling to help finance their wedding next month.
As it was, I had been ready to leave the barbershop at this time because, after ten minutes, the barber was still working on the quite bald guy's head in the chair (well, the bald guy was in the chair too, along with his quite bald head), and I calculated at this rate I might be there until closing before I got my spot in the chair. But then the couple walked in, made their unique sales pitch and at just the same moment Meat Loaf's "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" came on the radio (I wish I could make this stuff up; if so, you'd all be paying for my words, not getting them for free here). I stuck around. Obviously the barber was going to handle this affair, so the rest of us just sat and watched. He was good (afterward regaling us all with stories of all the "crazy people you wouldn't believe who come through that door selling stuff"). He laughingly, though respectfully, told the couple that he had been married three times and nobody had ever helped him pay for his weddings, "so I think you two can pull it off okay. Though I hope neither of you gets married three times." The young woman kind of winced at that, thanked everyone (the guy might have uttered a "thanks" too, his only words of the encounter), and the two of them left. Too bad, because having decided I wasn't going to be spending 15 bucks on a haircut today, I probably would have bought a windcatcher (I've spent my life passing wind, I might as well invest in a catcher; you always remember your first) if they had been allowed to stay and peddle their wares.
Naturally, as soon as the couple departed, the barbershop kind of exploded. What the hell was that, being the basic theme. One guy wondered how many windcatchers one (or two) would have to sell to finance a decent wedding. Another thought it would have been a good deal if, along with the windcatcher, you got an invite to the reception and free food and drink. The guy in the chair, perhaps showing why he has so little hair left on his head, worried if they were really getting married or if this wasn't some kind of scam, then wondered if maybe the couple at that very moment were "keying" his car. All the while, Meat Loaf pleaded to "let me sleep on it." I just sat there reveling in human nature--as soon as someone a little odd leaves the premises, we all start hurling insults at him or her or both. I just wonder what they said about me two minutes later when I grabbed my coat and headed out, telling the barber I'd be back later in the week--my hair, if not my eyebrows, could wait a couple more days. I thought maybe they would think I was part of the couples' would-be scam in some way, a decoy if you will, making sure no one would run out to make sure his car was not indeed being keyed. Maybe for a few minutes of barbershop repartee I was known as the Windcatcher Accomplice.
All day long, though, I've been thinking of that couple. Now maybe they were planning on another winter like last where they could shovel their way through January and February to a pretty pricey shindig in March, but with this year's mild winter, they had to shift to Plan B. But how in the hell could peddling windcatchers to barbershop patrons be anyone's Plan B? Just what other ideas did this couple have that they finally decided windcatchers would be the best way to finance next month's wedding? I can't wait to see their kids' science projects. But, the more I pondered, while the details leave a little to be desired, the general idea has some merit: get other people to pay for your wedding. Why not offer your nuptials as a sound business investment? For a small investment you get a wedding picture and a piece of cake mailed to you. For a larger investment, you get double your money back in ten years, when the couple have established themselves and are making good money? For an even larger, though riskier investment, thirty years down the line you get ten times your investment when the couple's prodigy kid sells his start-up company for a cool $100 billion. Make your marriage an investable commodity. Mr. Goldman, meet Ms. Sachs.