Ok, first off I don’t normally cut hair, barring the occasional mohawk given in a garage or back patio. MILK enjoys butchering hair into all types of attempted styles, thus her early nickname “The Barber of Seville,” but despite people’s totally unjustified faith in her, she has zero skills in this area. Someone once actually trusted her with a tattoo gun, so her power to enchant with a false sense of ability is real.
Basically we’re both grossly unqualified to handle scissors, that’s a given, but more to the point, neither of us ever learned to communicate with a barber or stylist. As an adult, this has been an unexpected (and sometimes disastrous) challenge.
I credit our mom and grandmother for a long series of 70’s bowl cuts. This was achieved in ten minutes, every four months, with a literal bowl on my head. Seriously when everybody calls you Danny and you have the same haircut as “Danny” in The Shining…let’s just say it’s socially limiting. My rebellion against this look was my first mohawk, in the 4th grade, given to me by Grandma Ping with the Wahl clippers she still had laying around from her days of buzz cutting the neighborhood when my dad was little. “Pay for a haircut? For a kid? Hah, good one!” I didn’t see the inside of a barber shop until I was in my twenties. I had either long metal head hair or some home spun punk style for all of high school and college, when I was too cool to let mom cut my hair, and too poor to go to a professional.
I have to partially blame my father for this oversight, and I will fail my own sons in this regard I’m sure. My theory is that there is a critical moment in adolescence where a fellow learns how to talk to people who cut hair. I imagine some Norman Rockwell scene with a dad smoking a pipe and teaching the boy how to talk to the barber while reading a racing form. The barber’s name is Ned, and he’s the same guy who cuts your dad’s hair and all your uncles’. I figure it’s like the birds and the bees talk, but hopefully more involved than having the old man hand you a box of condoms and saying “I don’t want to see any new bambinos around this joint for a long time…you picking up what I’m laying down?”
So after graduating college I decided that after decades of weird hair I would get a fashionable haircut that didn’t cause me to constantly get pulled over and searched by the cops. Seriously, no shit, I started getting quasi normal haircuts in 2000 and wasn’t pulled over again until 2012 when I was testing the top end of a rental car, nothing changed with my driving but cops hate weird hair…because they can’t have it.
So these days I go in to get my hair cut and I sit down in the chair and there’s the terrifying question, “So what are we doing today?”
“Fucking up my hair!” is how I reply silently in my mind. What I actually say is, “Oh um, longish on top and short on the sides…sort of.” So with the most minimal of instructions, my head becomes the canvas of an artiste. My lack of direction opens up the option of 80% of all male haircuts and a bunch of lesbian ones. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes things so south. Even when I see that shit going horribly, horribly wrong, I don’t say anything because I have no idea what to say. “Maybe a little less Flock of Seagulls?”
Whenever I score a good haircut I become rabidly loyal to whomever did it. If I go often enough, I can develop a relationship with the stylist and I can simply say those magic words “just a trim today,” with confidence. Yep, I am haircut savvy now, I think. Then what happens, because people who cut hair have the stability of carnies, is the jerk will move to Norway or Arizona. Now I am screwed all over again. Now I have to wander blindly into the chair again and say…”Um longish on top and short on the sides.”
And that is why I currently have a haircut that would look right at home in Mission Control at NASA… in 1967. Well, at least it dries quick.