Skip to main content
This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

There are a few things in life I dislike doing. Pumping gas. Watching 30 minutes of movie trailers. Getting my hair cut.

They are things I will avoid as much as humanly possible. I avoid pumping gas mostly by praying that I won’t run out before Ralph gets in the car next. I avoid watching 30 minutes of movie trailers by leaving the house at the same time that the movie is supposed to start. And I avoid haircuts by… not getting my hair cut.

But sometimes hair has to be cut. When it gets unruly and frayed and uneven just by existing.

When wearing it in a ponytail starts to give me a headache because it’s like an anchor dragging on my brain.

When I try to style it and spend a half hour with a curling iron only to end up with straight hair.

That’s when I know it has to get cut, which is usually about four months before actually getting it cut.

I really really dislike getting my hair cut.

First of all I don’t like strange people touching me. I don’t like having my head scrubbed by said stranger while trying to uphold a conversation about their kid. I don’t like making small talk for an hour.

I know I just praised the folks at Publix for making small talk but that’s a minute, max. It’s not an hour while you stare at yourself in a mirror while trying not to stare at yourself in a mirror.

Then you have to tip the person which I always find so awkward. You sneak a ten dollar bill clandestinely. Or you hand it across a counter ostentatiously. It never feels right.

Plus, have you seen the price of haircuts lately?

The last time I got my hair cut was just over a year ago. I told the woman to cut it straight across the back. She did.

From hi my name is to thanks bye was all of fifteen minutes. It cost $80.

And that was without the tip.

And that was the least expensive salon I could find.

Anyway, I started getting irritated with my hair two months ago so first I had to announce it.

My hair is driving me crazy.

Then Ralph had to negate it.

Your hair looks nice.

Then I had to complain about it.

Well, I guess THAT’S the best it’s going to look.

Then Ralph had to praise it.

I like it that way.

We go through a few cycles of that until I ask him to cut it. Then he has to negate it.

I don’t know how.

Then I have to insist.

You can cut a straight line.

Then he objects.

Why does it need to be cut?

Then I hand him scissors.

At that point he snips off about an eighth of an inch and it takes twenty minutes but it doesn’t cost me 80 bucks so I count my blessings and move on.

But it doesn’t take me long to get irritable about it again so then I cut it myself. And that never goes well.

Still, I go through a few cycles of that until I finally cave and make a haircut appointment.

This time I went to a barber shop. I’m at that age where I can do that now and not feel one bit weird or stupid about it.

There is a place here called The Blockhouse. It is a combination barber shop and bar. Ralph gets his hair cut there and I sit and have a cocktail. It works out well for both of us.

Somehow I got it into my head that I could get my hair cut there. I mean, how hard could it be to get someone to make a straight line with a pair of scissors? Men have long hair, too.

I like it there because it’s casual, it’s comfortable, it’s right down the block, the people are friendly. It feels nice and homey and easy, because of course it does, it’s for MEN. Men always get the nice, easy stuff. Women have to go through a whole check-in process and wait in the lounge and peruse the jewelry and someone will offer you a glass of wine and it’s a whole THING. How about take ten bucks off my haircut and I’ll drink wine when I’m relaxed at home, not inhaling styling chemicals? Then the hair washing and the conditioning and the sitting there while the conditioner sets in, then ten minutes of combing and 45 minutes of snipping and another 20 of blow drying and spraying. All while talking about someone’s kid.

Avoiding the rigamarole was one of the reasons I picked the last salon. It seemed very basic, and it was. Except for the prices.

At the barber shop I get to order a whiskey, neat. There are no weird smells, no dyes, no perm or straightening chemicals. It’s literally like going out for a drink, and oh, while you’re there you might as well get your hair trimmed.

So I asked if they would cut my hair and they said yes. Rejoice!

It went swimmingly. I was out the door, in a chair, out of a chair, and back in the house within 45 minutes. Best part? $35. That’s practically 1985 prices.

The guy who cut my hair was 21. He talked about anime and high school and I didn’t have to come up with a single word of small talk. Couldn’t have got it in if I tried. He didn’t wash my hair, either. Just spritzed it, snipped it, and moved on.

I will definitely go back, but probably not before cutting it myself first, then making Ralph cut it, then cutting it some more.

I would never have dreamed of cutting my own hair in my younger days. Hair was very high maintenance back then. Nary a straight line in sight. You needed more layers than a wedding cake so you could mousse them into big spikes and wings, carefully sculpting and spraying it into the right size and shape. How else could you walk out the door with a Michelangelo or a Leaning Tower of Pisa?

If it rained you were dead. Even if it didn’t rain but was misty or humid enough, no amount of hair spray could avoid the dreaded flat hair. I mean, flat hair was pretty much a death sentence. In high school you had anxiety about only a few things.

Not being cool enough.

Having flat hair.

Having flat hair when you had third period with the guy you had a crush on.

I remember the 80s being all about the perm. Getting a perm was no inexpensive proposition, either. And it took several hours, which was pure torture. Consider: no cell phones, no scrolling Instagram, no Solitaire games, nobody to call or text. Just several hours of sitting under a chemical soup while your hair cooked into curls.

My mother and I went through a phase where we would do home perms on each other. It also took forever, but at least it was fun. We had a few hours together to roll little papers into curlers and talk and hang out while our heads cooked.

Perms didn’t always go well. There was that one time when the salon forgot to pull my soup off and it burned my hair to fringe. I went home with spots of stubble all over my head. They had the decency not to charge me for it, but it took quite a long time for my hair to grow back.

I don’t think that stopped me from getting perms, though.

If you had straight hair you got it permed. If you had curly hair you got it straightened. What is wrong with humans? How do we even survive?

I never had my hair colored but I did do a color rinse once in a while at home. It was the kind of thing that turned your hairline orange for a while and washed out in the shower after a couple of weeks. But getting my hair actually colored never appealed to me. It was hard enough to keep it big, let alone deal with roots.

The root situation was bad enough with just the rinse-out stuff. Inevitably it didn’t all rinse out so you ended up with two-tone hair for a little while until it did.

If you had brown hair you needed blonde highlights. If you had blonde hair you needed blonder highlights. Seriously, what is wrong with us?

Here is what I can tell you about my relationship with hair at this point: the longer I can go without a haircut, the better. The more it stays out of my way, the better. The end.

Ralph has four bottles of shampoo, two conditioners, gel and paste. I have one bottle of shampoo and some ancient hairspray that I will use occasionally and under duress. But now we have the same barber, and I think that is the best part of having hair right now.

Photo: the bar at The Blockhouse, looking manly.