The week has been interesting, to say the least. I’ve tried to cry a couple times in an effort to feel better, but my account is in the negative. I virtually attended the funeral of a band upperclassmen that I went to high school with. He was a kind guy and was loved by many.
Pause. It isn’t lost on me how strange it is to say that I “virtually attended” a funeral. Things are certainly different in 2020. It’s crazy how being outside has become the “good ol’ days.” I digress.
I also found out that my barber of almost 10 years passed away. I found out on Facebook. He was far from a barber. That was just the conduit by which we met. He was no ordinary guy. Although he was over six feet tall, he was much larger in stature. He was soft-spoken most times, unless there was a spirited barbershop conversation happening. He was low-key funny, but you had to pay attention or you may miss the joke.
We spoke on many topics. The preamble of our conversations began with him asking, “So, how’s business?” and ending with my glasses hitting the floor when I stood up because I forgot they were in my lap. It was a regular occurrence. We also kept each other abreast on new camera tech toys. I could ask him for wisdom, and he would gladly give it. If he had a tech issue, I’d work on it for him while I was at the shop. He helped me, step-by-step in getting my business started. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I’d be. He showed his child-like side by the toys he had in his shop. When you came in, there was a guarantee that you’d see a disassembled, gas -powered race car on the floor and camera equipment on the chair of the vacant booth next to him. There was also a permanent chessboard set up in the middle of the barbershop.
The day before I got married, he gave me a haircut. I get out of the chair and ask, “So how much do I owe you?” As he pops my collar to make sure all the hair is off of it, he says, “No, that’s alright. That’s yours. Congratulations.” That’s the type of guy he was. Paul was the type of guy that you looked for something to give him (or at least I did) because he was such a giver himself.
He gave Rex (my son) his first haircut. He was definitely a pro. I still can see in my mind how good of a job he did with Rex. I’m not talking about the precise haircut, either. I can see in my mind how he would occupy Rex in the chair by giving him a comb to play with as he cut his hair. He would switch the comb in Rex’s hand, ever so gently, and get back to cutting. He must’ve had five different combs to give to Rex as he cut his hair. Before anyone knew anything, Master P (as I called him), was done. No tears. No fussing. Just one freshly groomed 2 year old and a smiling Paul. I have it on video, but it’s too soon.
Did he charge me for that haircut?
I said, “Thank you but man, P, I gotta give you something.” He just said, “That’s alright.” I ended up giving him a tip. I just had to give him something to show him how much I appreciated him.
I have a couple more stories like that one, as I’m sure others do too.
[Insert heavy sigh]
He was a man of integrity, good moral character and one of great wisdom. I will miss him so.
Master P, if you can read this, thank you for the haircuts but most importantly thank you for being my friend.
Until Next Time,
Love & Peace.
This post is dedicated to Brother Melvin Quincy Etheridge and Brother Paul Wallace El.
7 thoughts on “Fanfare for the Uncommon Man”
Thank you for this post. Paul was an extraordinary man and a humble one too.
I don’t yet have the strength to articulate what he meant to me, but reading your blog was helpful in knowing how many lives he touched.
Blessings to you as you remember him as well,
Another friend of the incomparable Paul
Thank you for reading. Paul was definitely humble! I understand not having the strength. The news of his passing hit me hard and unexpected. I’ve been out of sorts all week. He was such a good dude.
Peace to you and your family,
This was absolutely beautiful what you wrote about Paul. I’m just at loss for words, I still can’t believe he’s gone, I have a hole in my heart now and I feel lost. I miss his hugs. I just wanted to go with him to the race track, but I’m gonna go. Everytime I hear a motorcycle zooming down the road now, I think of him. He was so smart and had the most beautiful brown eyes. Thank you for sharing this. Quandra Hodge
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Ms. Hodge. You’re welcome and thank you for reading. I understand your loss for words. The other day, I cut my hair at home. I had to pause because I still couldn’t believe that P is gone. I drove by the shop Saturday, foolishly looking for his car, or maybe his motorcycle. Sadly, I didn’t see either. I miss the brother. -Herbie
Very beautiful eulogy.
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Thank you. He was a great guy.
All of your comments, so very true for this man I knew was Great!!!
Thanks for sharing!
He will always mean so much to sooo many!!!
I can’t even begin to elaborate, so I’ll just leave it here!
I love you Paul Wallace El Forever!!!
I foolishly look for the bike, car, or truck also…. (everyday)
Truly missed and never forgotten!!!