February 23, 2006
As a boy my haircuts were done by my father. Being the mid-sixties his task was fairly easy, a “burr” haircut doesn’t require a lot of talent. And at that age I really wasn’t overly concerned about the appearance of my hair to others. Of course there are pictures of oddly thatched hair and cowlicks as he tried to leave my hair longer so it could be combed. By the time I reached junior high I was getting my hair done at the barber shop. It was a vastly different experience.
The barber shop my father used was a male place from top to bottom. Not a unisex salon like you find today, but a four-seat “high and tight” kind of establishment. The magazine selection for waiting customers included Playboy and Penthouse. As an adolescent just discovering the wide world of adulthood the open display of those magazines was both embarrassing and enticing. The receptionist/hair wash girl was an exercise in tight fitting clothes and overt sexuality as well. I began to see my father in a new light as a result of my introduction to a men’s barbershop. The haircuts were good too.
Throughout college I largely ignored my hair. I got it cut maybe two or three times a year. My bangs reached my chin and in the back it was shoulder length. However as I got ready to start interviewing for jobs I had it cut short once again. Mostly I visited those $6 or $7 haircut places and took potluck on the stylist. While these maybe great training grounds for the freshly minted hair stylist, you can’t depend on getting a good hair cut. Eventually I landed at a good salon, and found a stylist who had done men’s hair and my haircuts improved as a result.
In each of the cities we lived in, Michele and I always managed to find a salon where we could both get our hair cut. She was expert at finding the best local shop and I enjoyed good haircuts as a result. Most recently I’ve been getting my haircut by a gifted barber who uses a variety of razors to cut my hair. They are some of the best haircuts I’ve ever had. Last week when I called for a new appointment I discovered he has quit the business, and taken my haircut with him.
You see, in each instance I’ve described and all the ones I haven’t, the haircut I get isn’t really mine. Sure, the hair is mine, and the look is mine, but I can’t recreate it without the stylist or barber. Any time I’ve moved or changed barbers I’ve lost my haircut in the process. Not a big deal to be sure, but something I am aware of nonetheless. With the loss of my latest haircut I am very tempted to return to my haircut roots (so to speak) and cut it myself using a set of clippers and a #3 comb. In an odd sort of way that would be the first haircut in my life that was truly mine.
Of course it may look pretty odd too.