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.
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