My new haircut is fucking horrible. It’s so horrible that I can’t show it to you. I would love to be able to to make this whole thing a lot funnier, but I can’t stand the shame. I’m writing this with a paper bag on my head, wishing I had a plastic one. It’s a horrible haircut. It’s like Stevie Wonder did it for me.
I’d been putting off getting it cut for a couple of weeks. I was waiting until something gave me a good reason. A job interview for something that required me not to look like I was the bassist in a high school rock band for example. But nothing had pushed me into getting the cut. Eventually I just got sick of looking at the world through late-teens bangs and went out looking for a hairdressers.
I’ve always gone to salons. And I’m extremely picky when it comes to the salons I go to. I like ones that have someone employed for college credits to dry hair and distribute free coffee. The music needs to be vocal-light and ambient, and there should be at least six plants carefully arranged around the room to make me feel like I’m being pampered in a field. There has to be a well-stocked selection of women’s magazines to flick through while I wait for a woman with tin foil in her hair to stop complaining about her job as a dental assistant to the stylist. This is what I want.
My stylist (not hairdresser) should be called something sexually ambiguous, like Jayson or Darryn. He should be as gay as twelve Christmas trees and should be dressed like he’s just jumped out of Elton John’s birthday cake. He should bite his lower lip as he lifts and drops my hair, checking it for bounce and volume. He should ask me if I’m a model, and sound shocked when I tell him that I’m not. He should pause midway through giving me a cut to take phone calls and texts because no part of his fabulous social life can wait for me hurry up and start looking good.
I never go to barbershops. I hate the environment and I feel uncomfortable surrounded by men with go-faster stripes shaved into their goatee beards. The place that I get my haircut should not have sun washed pictures of men with the Air Jordan symbol branded in hair on the back of their bald, scarred skull. It should not have suspiciously unruly children sliding across the floor with LA Gear trainers blinking epileptically on their feet. There mustn’t be a picture next to the staff room of a partially nude Playboy model from January 2003 (with frayed bindings across the top from where it’s been torn from someone else’s calendar) or a customer walking into the staff room empty handed, and walking out with a half a hot dog.
My butcher (not stylist) should not go by his initials D.T., and he should not be playing Angry Birds on his phone when I ask him if I can get a haircut. He should not ask me what I want done midway through my haircut, and he shouldn’t be touching my head when he has what look like prison tattoos on his knuckles. He should not assume that I want the same haircut as him just because I’m too scared to tell him to stop cutting go-faster stripes into the side of my head.
But I got my haircut at a barbershop that I walked past on the street on my way to a comedy club. I don’t know what possessed me to walk inside. Perhaps the place looked reputable through my sweeping teenage bangs. Maybe it looked like the sort of place that would be able to give me the no nonsense, steam-pressed, Mad Men extra haircut that I needed. I was given the worst haircut I’ve had since my cousin tried to shave my head when I was 17 and the electric razor died halfway through the cut.
But this butcher hacked off at the finest cuts of hair from my head. The prime sideburns, the rib eye bangs and the rump that hung from the back. All that was left was a worthless load of gristle and cartilage, desperate to blasted clean with a power hose and thrown into an incinerator.
He cut my entire head with an electric razor. I’m not joking. I have been exaggerating a few things along the way for comic effect, but I’m serious about this. Not once did he pick up a pair of scissors. When I noticed this I realized that I couldn’t see a pair of scissors in the whole shop. They only cut with electric razors. That’s like being a painter and only ever using potatoes with shapes cut in them.
“Wow, I took a bit more off than I was meant to there didn’t I?” he said, smiling, holding the electric razor, looking for any remaining morsels of hair left that needed chopped.
Yes you fucking did, I thought.
I smiled and nodded.
“Nah, it’s fine” I said.
“Oh well, you’re a new man” he said, putting down the buzzing razor and picking up a bottle of green stuff in a greenhouse spray bottle that was so old that it could have once contained DDT.
I winced as the chemically perfumed substance slapped the raw pores on the back of my neck, because I knew that I would not only smell like a widowed pensioner trying to court a grandmother at a dominos club, but I would have to walk the streets for the rest of the day, looking like a cancer-riddled version of Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber.