Tag Archives: hair

Follicular Follies More Like Hair Horror

By Jason Menard

If ever someone decides I need to be punished, may I suggest forgoing the electric chair – any chair at a nearby hair-cutting establishment will suffice.

Normally, I’m fairly vocal in expressing both my preferences and my displeasures, but when it comes to hair cuts, I clam up and watch silently as untold horrors are wreaked upon my follicles. Maybe it’s the proximity of razor-sharp implements to areas I consider vital, such as the eyes, ears, and windpipe, that keeps me quiet. But I know I’m not alone.

I’m usually good in social situations. While I don’t seek them out, I engage in conversation casually and with dexterity. I consider myself knowledgeable about a wide range of topics and feel confident in my ability to express an opinion based upon fact and personal conviction. But that ability appears to get sucked out of me the second that little smock gets wrapped around my neck – its clasp the visual representation of my internal chains that render me helpless.

Trust me, there’s no Fabio-esque long-flowing locks here. I have the definition of low-maintenance hair. In fact, I only recently emerged from the 1980s and gave up the discount bin-dwelling, little-used gel for the more expensive – and contemporary — “product.” Something that goes by the name of moulding putty. I step out of the shadow, tussle it a little to encourage it to return to its upright position, and go. That said, there’s not too much one can do to my hair.

It’s straight. I mean, straighter than straight. You could calibrate instruments off of just one strand, because there’s absolutely no deviation or curl. And it’s fine, so there’s even less to deal with. Yet still, my head seems to be a magnet for hairstylist mistakes. In fact, I’m pretty sure the head mannequins used in beginner hair styling courses are modeled after my cranium.

Yet still every venture to get my hair cut ends in tragedy. And for this indignity I still feel obligated to leave a tip! I once had a regular barber whom I liked. I went to him for two years before we moved away. And, even though he prefaced my pre-Christmas haircut by sharing a 10:00 a.m. round of Ouzo shots, I trusted him.

My most recent venture into the chair of nightmares commenced with a debate about what clipper size I wanted to start with. My best hair cut (and, due to its rarity, I remember it fondly) involved me using a 2 1/2-sized clipper. Now, I’ve tried to replicate this request in other establishments and it appears that location was in some mystical netherworld where dreams can be realized because everyone else looks at me like I’ve asked them the question in Aramaic. Perhaps the key is to bring Mel Gibson with me – or simply ask Mel where he gets his hair done…

So, after settling for a 3, the next five minutes progressed with the futile search for the elusive size. Apparently, the same demon that gets my socks absconded with the 3, and I was strongly recommended to try a 2. As I watched the pale flesh tones slowly reveal themselves through their salt-and-pepper curtain, I realized that this was yet another chapter in the horror novel of hair.

Conversation was stilted as she apparently was at the same time both interested in penning my biography and avoiding actually listening to the answers I’ve given. I understand disinterest – after all, the feeling was mutual – yet at least feign interest or allow me to undergo my suffering in respectful silence.

The cut itself turned out OK and I remained optimistic that there would be a light at the end of this tunnel – until the moment the gel was broken out. Before I could utter a word – not that I’m sure I would have – I was Gel-saulted. Drenching what limited hair I had left in a mountain of gel that would have Pat Riley blushing, I was sent out into the world looking all the more like a wet cat.

And if that weren’t bad enough, the gel rapidly hardened on my head, like that chocolate coating on ice cream, leaving me with a lid that looked and felt suspiciously like Butch Goring’s mid-80’s helmet.

I survived to tell the tale, and I continue to search for that elusive Holy Grail – the good hair cut. Until then, I will bow my head in shame, or at least put on a hat.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

New Year – 10 Per Cent More Gay

By Jason Menard

Jan. 16, 2006 — I went away over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and came back a changed man. Yes, the numbers 2006 add up to 10 per cent more gay!

Now before you go all a-titter – and for those of you who are sitting there saying, “I always thought he was gay” – I’m still happily married to my wife, and the instructions on my hardware still read insert Tab A into Slot B. No, my transition in to the world of homosexuality has been facilitated by and limited to one word: product.

A revolution in personal grooming from the Neanderthal to the Metrosexual is upon me – and I’ve never felt better.

Like many guys, I’ve never place a priority on myself in terms of grooming. Sure, I’ve styled my hair (with varying degrees of success) and take a shower every day (I even use soap). But the idea of using specific products for various tasks was foreign to me. In fact, I always thought that the forces behind the grooming industry were just these Machiavellian marketing execs laughing as they invented new terms – and with them new products – for our grooming needs.

That was until I tried a few. Now I’m hooked.

Like a senior citizen being dropped on the Information Superhighway, I was flummoxed and lost every time I found myself confronted with concepts like moulding putty and exfoliation crèmes. And just as that senior will run back to the record player to return to the comfort of their Tommy Dorsey 78’s, I returned to the relative security of my cheap gel and bar soap.

But slowly, quietly things started to change. I would make gentle forays into the world of personal betterment. If I ran out of my soap, then I’d reach for my wife’s body wash. And with what was I to apply it with? A loofah of course. It didn’t hurt, so I was able to be more bold with my metrosexual ventures.

Even television conspired to help me through the transition. Shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy showed not only that certain products and procedures could help men look and feel better – but also showed you how to use them. Knowledge was growing and all I needed was the opportunity.

And then came the New Year. Staying at the home of a gay couple, opportunity availed itself to me. A host of products just waiting to be used, exploited, and enjoyed. And, with my wife eagerly encouraging my experimentation, it happened.

First it was a bit of moulding putty in the hair as opposed to cheap gel. With a, “welcome to the 21 st century,” my wife supported my transition from my 1980s comfort zone to the world of technology. Next came an exfoliant and a moisturizer. And the transformation was complete.

Well, almost. You see, I’ve retained enough of that Neanderthal man in me to resist paying the ludicrous prices that companies charge for these products. So I’ve baby-stepped into the world of affordable skin care.

It’s a difficult transition for many men to make, but it really shouldn’t be. After all, when technology brings us the next gadget, don’t we run out and get it? While we’re playing our PlayStation 2s aren’t we secretly wondering what the next generation console will be like? Look at the crowds for the Xbox 360 when it was released. Why do we not get as excited when technology advances our grooming products?

So while we’re comfortably on the cutting edge of certain aspects of our lives, other parts live in the dark recesses of our consciousness. Damn it, we used gel in high school, it’s still good today, right? Well, yes and no. Many of us also used mousse in the 80s and few of us are willing to relive that Flock of Seagulls feathered do again.

No, styles, products, and attitudes change. The rugged Marlborough Man transitioned into the singing Irish Spring guy, who has now followed the evolutionary path all the way to metrosexuality. These days, rugged must be seasoned with a healthy dose of refinement.

I’m slowly buying into the idea. I still draw the line at eyebrow tweezing, but that’s less about aesthetics and more about pain. I’m 10 per cent more gay and it feels great! And best of all, my wife likes it – and that’s a reward in itself.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

My Daughter’s Pony Tail Has Me Tied Up in Knots

By Jason Menard

I’ve interviewed Heads of State, I’ve survived Cuban customs, and I have weathered the stresses of weddings, moving, school, and work. I considered myself capable of succeeding at pretty much anything to which I put my mind – that is, until recently.

I have been defeated. And by my own flesh and blood. My insurmountable task? My two-and-a-half year old daughter’s hair.

That’s right, I’ve pieced together IKEA furniture despite the lack of a Rosetta Stone for their hieroglyphic-like instructions (and the inevitable missing or extra pieces that seem to have no home), but a simple pony tail falls outside the range of my capabilities.

It’s not for lack of trying. My wife has spent many moments stifling her laughter and offering (somewhat condescending) support for my efforts. My daughter has shown patience beyond her years in sitting there as I fumble along, my fingers suddenly moving as dexterously as a cow’s hoof.

This is just not a skill set that I’ve ever had to develop. I’ve always had short hair, and even my pathetic attempt to grow it out during my teen years only left me with an unruly mop that still wasn’t long enough to pull back. My almost 10-year-old son also has short hair, so that’s been a blessing in disguise to this point.

My daughter was even gracious enough to take longer than expected to grow her hair in, so I was granted a reprieve. But it finally happened, her hair has grown, and grown, and grown. In my dreams, my daughter’s beautiful hair turns into a Medusa-esque collection of snakes, hissing and mocking my inability to manipulate a ‘clippy.’ But, as always, my wife was there to bail me out.

Until recently. Off on a girls’ weekend away, she left me alone with my daughter. Before departing she generously put my daughter’s hair up – but that could only last so long. Eventually, she’d need to bathe, sleep, or just be a normal two-year-old and pull it out. And although I debated the merits of the Moe Howard look on girls, I knew my wife would kill me if my daughter went outdoors looking like she was on her way to an audition for the Mini-Pop Ramones.

So I bit the bullet. After her bath, after I dried her hair, I took a deep breath – and foisted her off on one of the neighbour’s daughters.

It’s amazing what the power of suggestion can do on a toddler. A simple, “don’t you like when [insert the older child of your choice’s name here] does your hair? You should go ask her to do it again!” No, it’s probably not the best example of parenting in the world, but I’d rather my daughter look like a little girl than like she should be ferrying a small keg of brandy around her neck in the Alps. I’m already barely getting by on colour co-ordination and matching outfits, so give me a mulligan on the hair!

Many of us go through various classes as we prepare for the birth of our children – but nowhere is there one on tying pony tails! And forget pig tails – I have enough problems with one, two might cause an aneurysm. Knowing what I know now, I’d pay any amount of money to attend that class.

And learning from my wife has proven fruitless. I’ve determined that it’s like when I watch those Italian game shows without the benefit of sub-titles – I get the gist of it, but the fine details are lost.

So what I’m left with is to implore all of you not for pity, but for understanding. Understanding not just for me, but for all those fathers out there. When you see us walking down the street, holding the hand of our shaggy offspring who’s braving the outdoors with a pony tail sticking out the side of her head or a dozen clips scattered haphazardly around her head, don’t point and laugh.

Our daughters have done nothing wrong but to put their blind trust in us – and our lumbering fingers.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved