Friday, March 12, 2010

The Horror Of Getting My Hair Cut

It can be said that I have a slight case of tonsurephobia. This fear of getting my hair cut doesn't stem from a fear of sharp blades, scissors or some kind of social anxiety disorder. No, this fear is the culmination of years of bad experiences which included injuries, insane beauticians, irate girlfriends and several botched haircuts.

I guess it all started with my mother. The poor woman had to raise five kids while working full time and going to school, so, both money and time were often tight in those early years. Mom's top cost/time-saving measure, aside from buying copious amounts of Hamburger Helper, was to give me and my brothers all haircuts. I don't believe Mom had any experience as a beautician, as she simply put a plastic bowl over our heads and cut around it. This was well before the invention of the Flowbie. Our hair may not have been stylish, but she saved time and money by doing it herself, and, besides, who did we need to impress? Mom must have gone to school before peer pressure and hazing were invented.

The trauma that came from Mom forcing me to remain seated while she butchered my hair resulted in me railing against the Barber industry as a whole as a teenager. During those years, I would only agree to get my hair cut when my father had lost enough patience with me to threaten to lock me out of the house if I didn't return with my locks shorn.

Over the years, I endured more than my share of tribulations at various barber shops, some of which include:
  • A scissor-slip incident left me with a deep wound on my forehead. I still have the scar.
  • Somewhere around 7th grade, being given a rat-tail haircut once after asking the barber to get rid of my mullet. I believe I soon cut the tail off on my own, tied it into a knot, and gave it to a girl I liked. She promptly threw it out. 
  • I was incredibly drunk one night in college and decided to trim my hair using nail scissors. It did not end well. 
  • I agreed to let a girlfriend color my hair and instantly regretted it as the red tones turned out purple.

The worst haircut I ever received occurred on the day before I had a big job interview. I stopped in my neighborhood barbershop which was a tiny little hole-in-the-wall owned and operated by some old bugger with a thick Irish accent. I sat in the chair for what seemed like two hours as this guy went on and on about being a Protestant in a predominately Catholic neighborhood of Ireland. One hour into the haircut, I asked the barber if maybe he might be taking too long. He replied that he was giving me a special cut for my interview. I wasn't facing the mirror, and my hair had been incredibly long beforehand, so I didn't see anything wrong with what he was saying. Another 45 minutes into the haircut, my patience was again wearing thin and I asked if I could see how he was progressing. He muttered something about everyone being jealous of my haircut once they saw it. Eventually, that old codger swung me around with a hearty "TA DA!!!!". I looked into the mirror at my hair and all I could do was say "It's a jungle in there!". I was devastated. Upon getting home that night, I called a friend and begged him to give me a crew cut. It all worked out, though, as I had a great story to tell in my interview and my new, high and tight appearance really wowed them because they called later that day to offer me a position.

So, it was with much trepidation that I sat in my local barber's chair yesterday and let him work on my hair. He's a good guy. He works quick, doesn't engage in idle chatter, does a fine job and charges a fair price. When my former father-in-law had a massive stroke and had not yet recovered enough to travel to the barber shop to get his hair cut, my barber visited him once a month and cut his hair for free. For that, he will always have my business, tonsurephobia or not.

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