I’ve needed a haircut for the past couple of weeks (or more), and Saturday night was pretty dead around here, so I walked over to 45th to the sort of “alternative” salon I’ve been patronizing lately. I go there mostly because I can almost always just walk in and get a decent haircut. I used to patronize a perfectly fine and professional woman at a regular salon, but I increasingly find it impossible to make an appointment for non-work activities and actually show up.
I’ve been perfectly happy with the haircuts from the “alternative” place. I usually end up with the same woman despite the lack of an appointment. She’s pretty cute, and my haircuts with her begin startlingly like a lap dance (Not that I’ve ever had one - ED). She stands directly in front of me, legs slightly apart, but that’s where the fantasy ends. She’s totally focused on how my head looks from the front, and how she can possibly do anything positive with it. I don’t envy her that task.
Well, Saturday night was a different kettle of fish. The sign said “open” when I arrived, but the guy at the desk looked like he was getting ready to leave. “Do I have time for a haircut?”, I asked. He hesitated, and I turned to head for the door, but he called me back and said he could do it. Once I was this close, I had to follow through, cuz it might be weeks before I got myself back there.
Once I was seated, he asked me what size clipper, #2 or #3. I had no idea ( “Elena” never used clippers), but instinct told me to choose #3, presuming it would leave me with longer hair. He snapped on his clippers and started mowing my head. After the first stroke, I knew I was getting more of an amputation than a haircut, but after two strokes there was really no alternative to letting him finish, unless I wanted a mullet.
“You’ve got really thick hair, mister!”, he said. I replied, “It’s thick on the sides, but thinning way too much on top.”
“I don’t really talk much when I cut hair - sorry.” A few seconds pass, and he ventures, “What’s your name?”
“Phil,” I reply. “What’s yours?”
Although the guy was pasty white with assorted head piercings, my mind immediately flashed to Blue Duck, the lithe Indian villain in Lonesome Dove. We were alone in the shop, and even though it was next door to the wildly popular Molly Moon ice cream store, it was still the middle of January, and the street was deserted.
Despite these misgivings, my haircut ended uneventfully, I paid and left without further harm. But a look in the mirror confirmed my initial suspicions - he’d cut it preternaturally short - shorter, perhaps, than it’s been since junior high.
When I arrived at my client’s office this morning, people were taken aback at being able to see my ears. They both insisted that it made me “look younger”, which might have seemed flattering if the corollary didn’t immediately present itself: they thought I “looked older” before.
This would have caused me much more angst when I was in high school, college or even a young adult. These days, I’m only concerned about how much heat I’m losing through my skull. Old age can be liberating.