Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Getting Shorn.

So I finally got my hair cut. The last time I went in was last August. Seven and a half months without a trim had me looking a bit raggedy. I'm not exactly sure what the average is for most people, but I'm sure I am a statistical outlier. I've never been particularly enthused about being groomed and I don't really have any explanation for that. I know that it's not particularly fun. And I am also struck by a particular futility inherent in the activity. It's like dusting your house, mowing the grass, or clipping your fingernails- the shit just grows back anyway. It's got to get pretty extreme for it to even register in my consciousness. Invariably someone else notices the need before I do. That's not really a problem, because I'm impressionable when it comes to these maintenance tasks. I'll succumb to pressure.

I suppose that I get some satisfaction out of the money I save by getting only two or three haircuts a year. When I used to get the service performed more often, I would just look around for the cheapest option and grab it indiscriminately. Obviously I've walked around with a few ridiculous hairstyles over the years. I can remember whining about being taken to the barber when I was a little kid. At first it was my father's job to take me, but I guess it became easier for him to just let my hair grow, rather than hear me complain. Later I recall that my mother found a guy that cut kid's locks out of the basement of his house. His name was Mr. Ron and he had plants and aquariums everywhere in his work space. He sold penny candy, and let us pick a few pieces 'for free' when we were done getting shorn.

The other strange thing about Mr. Ron is that he kept a bunch of exotic animals in his house. He even had a youthful lion in a cage in his garage. Of course this was completely illegal, but the guy was a strange bird. I vaguely remember hearing that he kept mean-assed attack dogs on his first floor, and that some burglar got his face ripped off when he was successful in breaking into the house. I also have a strange recollection of whisperings about child molestation at Mr. Ron's salon. I'm glad my Mom never let me alone with the guy. Come to think about it, his whole set-up seems like the perfect pedophilia trap. Either he just never grew up, or he was a predator like the big cat he kept in captivity. In retrospect he definitely resembled some low-rent Michael Jackson with his white trash never-never-land. I guess it's no wonder that I keep my hair long.

Much later when I lived on the South Side I found myself needing a trim, and my regular guy was unavailable. I ended up knocking on the door of some old fashioned barbershop that my friends had patronized. When he answered his door, he looked ancient and hesitant about taking in business. He even tried to talk me out of it, suggesting that he should have retired already. I insisted that I was in a bind, and finally he agreed to go ahead with it. This was a mistake for both of us. I knew it wasn't a good sign when he kept cursing and taking breaks to grab tissues to wipe up the blood. He even took all the attachments off his electrical razor and shaved the back of my head raw. He got flustered eventually and had to stop. I think he said, "I told you so." I pressed five bucks into his hands, which he accepted after much cajoling. I took the back streets to an expensive salon and got a buzz cut.

But the worst experience I ever had was at my grandfather's house. It was during a visit one late Sunday night. I was in ROTC in high school and I suddenly realized that I had an inspection the next day. I knew I'd be sunk if I didn't get the hair off my ears. I tried to convince everyone in the house to give it a go, and no one wanted to do it. Finally my Pop was convinced that I wouldn't stop bothering people until it was done. He gave it his best shot as I sat at his work bench. The profanity that he unleashed was not encouraging (note that the utterance of swear words accompanying a haircut is generally a bad sign). When he was 'finished' I had patches of fur all over my head. It was ridiculous. And it was too late to get a professional to fix it. I had to go to school like that. Of course I took my share of good-natured abuse that day.

Now I leave it to the experts. Since it's so seldom that I get my hair cut, I can afford not to skimp. I've found that this is the best solution.



Blogger rick byerly said...

good read. i'm another 7-8 month stretch person as well, the last time i went to one of those awful chains with an endless supply of auto-pilot assembly-line drones. like a lot of other things which rarely mirror what i'm about, getting my hair cut is always a traumatic thing- unfortunately one of those vanity things as well being crossed with other ppl messing with what i think is me, and then realize it's just me overthinking things... again.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm glad you found something you could relate to. It's probably a good thing we are usually on the other side of the camera.

5:49 PM  
Blogger jefg99 said...

Some things never change. Loved this report, and I have memories of all of it in some fashion or another; well, except the last 15 years or so. Oh, and I as far as I know, Mr. Ron was never charged with anything. He definitely was one strange bird.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should I care about your hair? Are you one of those fur crazed weirdos? Get a hair cut!

10:45 PM  

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