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?”

“Blue Bear.”


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.


  1. Right with you. I’m wearing mine shorter these days too (but dude, not THAT short), and the first time I went with the look I felt as though I was betraying my cohort and my inner teenager. After about 5 seconds, though, I decided I couldn’t care enough to work up a good vanity gulp. We’re old for sure.

    Unrelated to hair — Decided the El Camino there in Fremont was a convenient place to have dinner with friends tomorrow night. Please tell me the food is decent. Not a done deal but it was close to SPU and that mattered.

  2. Phil:

    @Chuck - you 50-somethings only hope to know what we know! El Camino rocks! More diverse menu than the usual Mexican restaurant, with more complex spices. Excellent ‘ritas, for those who partake.

  3. The really good thing about a haircut like that is if it’s cut well, it grows back looking good and stays looking good until you need another cut.

  4. Phil:

    @Robin - Yep, it can only get better. I think.

  5. Brian:

    Wash and dry, sort and fold,
    You and I are growing old!

  6. Brian:

    You know, pictures like this are often connected to the sex offender registry…

  7. You only look a little like a mass murderer and you won’t have to go back for a l o n g time.

  8. Phil:

    @Brian - I still LOL thinking about that moment by the oyster fire last November when you looked at me and said, “I’m gonna miss you!” Do you recall at all the meme in the Pogo cartoon strip where Pogo and (I think) Albert sat in rocking chairs on a front porch and said they were racing to see who could be the oldest, or something like that? Dude, my rocking chair is titanium, and it’s aero.

    @Kathleen & Brian - I could probably qualify for a slot in the upcoming reality show (NBC, of course. Prolly at 10pm) called “Dumb and Dahmer”. It’s not just a pipe dream. I’m off to Wisconsin next week to do background.

  9. Brian:

    Who says one gets crankier as one gets older. I only meant that I would miss you when you left for Seattle :)

  10. It will grow back. Just give it a few months and it will be just a little shorter than it was before. I know. It has happened to me…but I always get a different person when I go in, so I’m part of a perpetual experiment.

  11. I don’t know, it has a certain je ne sais quoi - and there is the added incentive that it will be longer before you have to go back AND that is always a plus in my book…

  12. hmmm …. Longer … well it will be that either way.

  13. You look like you’re hoping you’ve convinced the principal that you did indeed NOT do it. But also resigned to yet one more undeserved detention even so.

  14. Phil:

    Brian - if you go first, I promise I’ll miss you, too.

    Springer - I was over it on the first stroke of the clipper. Just another liberating aspect of old age.

    Sue - I’ll hafta watch it, and then decide. thinking the barber won’t speak French, though..

  15. I know this really great place that sells authentic Panama hats — give you “men of a certain age” quite a dashing look; so much better than a John Deere ball cap. . .(not that you would ever go “there”). My husband has a cool Tilley Endurables hat that he grabs when we head out — says it keeps his head warm. I’ve offered him a hair transplant, but he hasn’t taken me up on it yet.

  16. Phil:

    Beth - I’ve never been really big on hats. I wear one reluctantly in my kayak because when you’re on the water, the sun comes at you from so many angles. Mrs. Perils and I have a suicide pact that either of us can execute if we’re caught wearing those matching hats that you see couples wearing.