Sunday, February 05, 2006

Yesterday at the Barber's

This post was inspired by Lizzie's tantalizing hints about her new haircut.

Yesterday I decided to break down and finally get a haircut. It'd been...I don't know, three years since I had my last one, and things were definitely getting out of hand. I decided to go in if only to cut down on the cost of shampoo, which can certainly get expensive if you haven't been to the hairdresser in three years.

Growing up, my aunt owned her own hair salon, so it wasn't until college that I had a different hairdresser, or "barber" as men are supposed to call them. It always felt awkward entrusting my gorgeous head of hair to someone who didn't already know my life story. My aunt and I had our rhythm: we would chat a bit while she cut my hair, then we'd not talk for a while, then we'd talk some more. With anyone else, I always felt uncertain as to whether I should talk, and what to talk about, etc. Was I supposed to ask a perfect stranger about their lives? "Are you content to cut hair for the rest of your life? Do you enjoy this work? Who sweeps the cut hair from the ground?" Just weird.

So, back to yesterday, obviously it was a new place I went into, and I asked the receptionist if there were any available "barbers" that I could see right away (I usually don't call ahead, being a person who is always caught up in the present). She checked and said that there was one guy available at the present. The thought of having "a guy" cut my hair made me shiver. Granted, it's not as bad as getting a massage from a guy, but in my book they're pretty darn close.

But I said okay, and she introduced me to Lenny, a forty-something bald "guy" with a neatly trimmed goatee. I was okay with the goatee, but bald? Isn't that against the National Barber Association's code of ethics? Sure, these people are paid to make sure you have less hair than when you come in, but it just seemed wrong to have someone cut my hair who didn't have any himself. How much hair experience does he have? Before he went bald, did he cut his own hair? Did he lose all of his hair in a self-haircut disaster?

I began to get nervous, but it was too late to back out now. I sat in his barber-chair and was immediately draped in a blue smock with red rockets and stars. I felt five. He sprayed my hair with what I hoped was water and then began clipping away. This was the moment I had dreaded: should I ask him how he's doing? If he was very busy today? Who he thought would win the Super Bowl, since he's a guy and all? Instead of saying anything, I just sat there, staring myself in the eyes.

After about five minutes he said, "You've got some nice hair."

I awkwardly shifted in my chair and considered asking him how he lost his. Was he on chemo? "Thanks," I mumbled.

"What sort of shampoo do you use?"

I told him. He seemed to think that my brand was pretty good, but he suggested some others. I said I'd get some at the store next time I was there. He seemed satisfied.

More time passed, and I continued to wonder if I should bring anything up. Finally, I decided it would be more awkward if I let the all of the time pass without saying anything on my own.

"So, have you been working here long?"

"Actually, today's my first day."

I started to sweat. His first day? Aren't they supposed to tell you about something like that beforehand? What if he messed up? Would I get my money back?

"Oh," I said.

"Don't worry, I'm a really good barber." He told me the name of the barber school he went to.

"Oh," I said. "I hear that they're really good." We both knew this was a lie; who knows how good barber schools are?

"There," he said with a flourish. "How's it look?"

I stared at myself in the mirror. "Good," I said.

"Is it alright? Do want more taken off?"

"No thanks--this is just how I like it." But it wasn't. He had taken too much off the top, and off the sides, and the back and front. Look at my profile.

I paid the receptionist on my way out, and as I was driving home, I decided that male hairdressers weren't all that bad. Maybe I'll give Lenny another shot next time.

Southie's note: the information contained in this post is 90% untrue. My aunt does own her own hair salon. It's nice.

1 comment:

Lizzie said...

Thank god for your note at the end. I was very confused until that point ;-)

p.s. I had shared an uncomfortable moment with the woman cutting my hair yesterday that was entirely true!