Hair Cutting in America
“This secondary skull coating displeases me,” I tell my barber. “I’d like you to remove it.”
“Have a seat,” he says.
Earlier I’d looked in the rear-view mirror and saw a combination of Richard Brautigan and The Dude looking back at me. I thought, “I would not hire me. I look like I’m a writer-in-residence somewhere, dragging my awkward mail-order bride to faculty functions.”
It isn’t a bad look (Brautigan’s outcome notwithstanding) but it had an air of already-got-there rather than on-my-way. It hinted at being all ready for a long, slow decline, an appreciation of the attraction of decay, and getting toothpaste in my moustache.
My barber is a guy named Darnell. He is the first barber I’ve ever seen more than three times in a row. I was walking in Burbank one day a couple of years ago and he was drumming up business outside his shop. “You play for the Celtics?” he said. This is code for “You’re tall and white, historically.”
“Yes,” I said, “I’m Kevin Garnett.”
This was the beginning of an excellent business relationship. This is good because I can make commitments to people easier than I can to my own hair. I’ll wash it every day, but ask me to hitch my wagon to a beard, a crew cut, a dying-for-your-sins look (the one I’ve been cultivating lately), or a conservative but high-maintenance cut (like the one I got yesterday), and I will get jittery.
Darnell takes what seems to be six pounds of hair off my head. He notes that I had some split ends. He offers, and I decline, to remove the gray. He then begins applying powders and greases and jellies. He finishes and hands me a mirror.
“You’re back in the game,” he says. “Your wife is going to look at your neck and say, ‘Damn.'”
“Not my wife,” I say, “maybe an occasional girlfriend. But I don’t think she is interested in my hair.”
“Well, she’s not going to be able to recognize you,” says Darnell.
I think, “No, I’m pretty hard to miss,” but then I think he’s right, and that maybe I should take it easy on people who would be in danger of not recognizing me if I get a haircut.
1 thought on “Hair Cutting in America”
Now uptight white men everywhere will approve of your employabillity potential and set their watches to your haircut.