Toney just gave me a homemade haircut. I prefer the store-bought variety, but these hand-rolled versions are getting better and better. The first time she did it, a couple of years ago, it felt like I had a Gumby head for the next three weeks. The shit was asymmetrical. But her skillz have improved, and these homespun cuts are now nearly identical to the ones I get from the husky-voiced divorcees at the local salons.
But as I was sitting there, allowing my wife to shear me like a sheep, some questions were going through my mind. And I’d like to ask them to you now. How’s that sound? Good, let’s go.
Where do you get your haircuts?
Do you go to a high-end salon, an old fashioned barber shop, a Fantastic Sam’s-style chain, or what? I tried to find a real barber shop several years ago, and it didn’t pan out. So, I just go to one of the various chains, or local versions of the same. What about you?
Are you loyal to a certain shop or person?
I’m not. I just go to the most convenient place. It’s not like the same people are going to be working there, anyway. And my cut isn’t exactly difficult to pull off (clippers… 2 and 4 guards), so it doesn’t matter. I bounce around from place to place, never staying put for long; I’m a haircut gigolo.
The most memorable name of a haircut place you’ve discovered?
When we lived in Atlanta we drove past the Doin’ It For the Lord Hair and Nail Salon, every morning on our way to work. I thought about getting my toenails done there, but didn’t want to be responsible for triggering a crisis of faith: “Awww, HELL no! Take me, Satan!!”
Most unusual setting for a haircut?
When we first moved here, I decided I wanted to find a traditional, old-fashioned barber. The first place I visited was a cigar store/barber shop. It was bizarre. The place wasn’t very big, and was jammed to the rafters with humidors and cases full of cigars. Oh yeah, and a big ol’ 1950s barber chair in the middle of the floor… As I got my cut, men were stepping around me and purchasing boxes of Romeo y Julieta, or whatever. I didn’t care for it. I felt like an asshole sitting up on a hydraulic lift in a retail setting.
Worst haircut you’ve ever received?
Mine was in that very same cigar store. There was an old man barber there, who was outside working on a motorcycle when I arrived. His wife (I’m guessing) yelled for him, and he came in — smelling like gasoline — and cranked up a set of World War II clippers that made a terrifying racket, and threw off sparks. I was certain there would be a loud WHOOSH!, and both of us would go up in flames. But thankfully there was no fire. The haircut, though? Horrible. I looked like a prisoner of war when I left there, or a cancer patient, or something. He was a nice old guy, but was cutting hair way past the expiration date.
Most disturbing haircut experience?
During that same period, when I was searching for a traditional barber, I went to a little old fashioned shop near our house. There was only one barber working, and he was… severe. I didn’t feel welcome, and there was a hint of actual hostility in the air. What the hell, man? Was this one of those situations where they didn’t take too kindly to “outsiders?” Our realtor had warned us about that kind of thing. When I finally got in the chair the dude softened a bit, and eventually began spewing a steady stream of racism. He was going on and on about Mexicans and blacks, and using words I hadn’t heard since the 1970s. He’d never seen me before in his life! Needless to say I just endured it (he had razors ‘n’ shit), and never returned.
What’s your stance on chit-chat?
I’m not really a fan, but feel compelled to put forth a minimal effort. I don’t want to be rude, but it’s always, “So, are you off from work today?” Or “Just out doing some shopping this afternoon?” Or something like that. I think they all have a laminated card in their pockets, with ten or twelve sure-fire chit-chat starters printed on it. I make a half-assed effort, so as not to seem like a serial killer. I guess you could say I chit, but rarely chat.
Finally, how much do you pay for a cut? And how much do you tip?
I used to tip five bucks, but have altered it a bit. Nowadays I hand over a $20 bill, and tell them to keep the change. So, if the cut is $12, they’re getting a really good tip. But if it’s $17… not so much. I’ve dug in my heels on the matter, and pay a straight twenty bucks. Is that wrong? What do you pay, and how much do you tip? Help me out, won’t you?
So there you go: the questions that were running through my head, as the clippers ran over it. Feel free to answer any or all of them in the comments.
And I’ll see you guys next time.
Have a great day!