By Tom ďblue bonnetĒ
One should never change
their dentist, their therapist, their florist, or their barber. A man
should have these things in order by the time heís in his late twenties.
A person you can depend on. Some people treat their hair like I treat
my car. I beat the hell out of it, and when it needs maintenance, Iíll
whore it around to any old service shop for the cheapest price. I could
care less how well the service is performed, because it just isnít that
important to me. You should never, EVER treat your hair that way. My
big brother goes to Super-Sucks and for six dollars they run a trailer
park haircut razor over his brain and he comes out looking like a cross
between George Clooney and Sam Donaldson. Why would you do that to yourself?
When some of my friends get
a terrible do, Iíll ask them what the hell happened and theyíll tell
me ďOh, I was picking up some plywood for my back porch and it was right
next to the department store salon, so I walked in with a coupon and
they took me right away. Itíll grow out.Ē Thatís not the point! Thatís
not the point! If I cut my finger off and had the skin grafted, but
they used baboon skin by accident because I accidentally went to a zoo
surgeon, I wouldnít go around saying ďOh, itíll grow out.Ē You donít
deliberately screw up your fashion sense out of novelty. Or at least
I donít. Hair styling is not like an oil change, youíre not shooting
for the land speed record and they donít get extra points for expediting
My little brother cuts his
own hair, or has some of his hippie gypsy henna wearing, patchouli-reeking
friends cut it for him. Itís one thing if youíre trying to attract a
woman by letting her cut your hair. I suppose I can understand that.
He had a ponytail for the longest time (as did I, but weíll finish with
him first.) And for Halloween, for Halloween for bleeding, buggering
sake he decided to chop it off so he could go to a party as a soldier!?
Is there something wrong with this picture? Are you seeing a pattern?
Men really donít care how they cut their hair, who cuts their hair,
or what sort of hatchet job results in this wheel of logic.
I had a pony tail until
the age of 24. At that point I looked around and saw that most men over
the age of 18 with ponytails were either baby boomers going through
severe mid life crises, social misfits who had their pictures up in
police stations, or pedophiles. I came to the conclusion that none of
these were suitable to my lifestyle and that I wasnít going to adapt
my lifestyle to my hairstyle so to make things simple, I got it lopped
off. It used to be ratty all of the time and I didnít trust any barbers.
Iíd wake up with it plastered to the side of my head and a family of
immigrants were on the lam somewhere just above my right earlobe, so
the hair had to go. It was time to look respectable. It was time to
get a real job. It was time to give up on some of the folly of youth.
So my girlfriend at the time
took me to Regis, a salon at the mall. It had never registered on my
radar because it looked like a shop for girls. The front window of the
store was covered from top to bottom in gels, spritzes, mousses, exfoliates,
defoliants, cleansers, conditioners, and billions of designer bottles
in all manner of shape and size that I didnít even know what the hell
purpose they served for the hair and scalp! I felt like a hen pecked
fool, but I trusted her advice. All they had to leaf through while we
waited were womenís fashion magazines. I didnít see one man in the store.
Until Mario walked up to lead me towards the execution chair.
Itís a funny thing about
Italian people. They can have the most effeminate, emasculating, homosexual
jobs in the world, and yet theyíre still manlier than me! Itís an Italian
thing. I canít quite pin it down. My florist is Italian and Mario, my
barber, is Italian. Could you guess before I told you? Mario has some
massive Harley Davidson eagle tattooed across the majority of his back.
He drinks, he gambles, he womanizes. We hit it off. He had an excellent
rapport. He saw that he had his work cut out for him and I told him
to be gentle, and that it was my first time in a long time. Well, it
took him an hour and we got along famously. I remembered hair cuts taking
a half an hour, but that was with unresponsive, half witted, gum chewing
dolts behind the shears. When he was done, Mario had created a vision.
I tipped five dollars, which was a first for me. That was almost three
years ago, and Iíve gone to him ever since. I was unfaithful twice,
regretted each instance, confessed to him, and we resolved the infidelity.
I look at going to my stylist
as being pampered. Itís a luxury, in the same way that a lot of people
go to tanning booths, massage therapists, or mud wraps. Itís not an
absolute necessity, but it makes you feel good. Itís important to treat
yourself to the finer services in life, because who else will? Blow
some cash on yourself. Spend a little bit more than you should on a
trifle. Go see that sadomasochistic mistress with the buggy whip and
the retractable claws. Whoa. Revealed a bit much back there.
Since I had long, filthy,
unkempt hair for so long, though, Iím not that good at knowing when
itís time for another cut. Once it starts curling around my ears like
Yiddish dread locks, though, I make the appointment. When I get there,
Mario takes my coat and washes my hair in the basin. Then we discuss
what weíd like to do, and to his benefit, I am very difficult. Women
are smart in one sense because they bring in magazine pictures or they
mention celebrities that trigger definitive sense memories. Iíll go
in and say ďIíd like something short, but also long, and curly and messy
on top, but crafted, and please donít take too much off the sides, but
Iím looking for a bit of a Jimmy Hoffa meets Cesar Romeroís Joker in
the 1969 Batman movie plus sort of the same aura that Brad Pittís hair
exudes.Ē And he pulls it off flawlessly!
I donít have a therapist
anymore, either, so Mario gets the weight of that to carry on top of
his shoulders as well. We talk about writing, since heís a writer, too.
We talk about women, and how long term relationships are for idiots.
And we talk about jobs and books and music and movies and five million
other topics. A barber I used to go to many moons ago told me that you
never discuss religion or politics, because you can aggravate people
too easily. Thatís good advice. Mario is opinionated, but weíre both
offensive on the same wave length, so thatís not a problem. Itís funny,
because the girlfriend is long gone, but I still have a committed professional
relationship p with my barber. And we take hot oil baths together every
three months. Not really.
Just last week I went to
get my hair dyed. It wasnít the first time, but I always feel a little
funny getting that done. Itís not a real lumber jack, steak and eggs,
all of a man activity to engage in. I hear that a lot more men get their
hair dyed than youíd imagine. Iím starting to go gray up there, though,
which bothers me. Little strands of gray are scattered and hidden on
my head like land mines, and Iíll stare with my head two inches from
the bathroom mirror for an hour obsessing over them and then go to a
graveyard and weep quietly. Iím getting old, thereís no disputing that.
So why wait until your forties to have a mid life crisis? I just get
my hair dyed blonde. Itís fun to be a different person sometimes, and
itís very superficial, but you do get treated differently by the opposite
sex. And it makes me feel younger, if only from the moment that I leave
the salon until the moment I have to unbutton my pants to put my seat
belt on when Iím leaving in the car.
Back to the masculinity
thing, though. The hair dying process is very, very feminine. First
Mario puts a translucent Amish bonnet on my head. Itís a...itís a...blue
cap! Then he pokes at my head like heís playing pin the tail on the
donkey and punctures holes through the aforementioned cap. Thatís more
humiliating and demoralizing than anything else. After that, he dumps
some goop all over my head with the consistency of bull semen and lets
that filter through, and finishes the whole affair by slapping another
cap over the bonnet. Finally, we waltz over to the heated blow driers.
This is where I feel gay. Exceedingly gay. Limp wristed and marjorie
jane-esque, to be precise. By some stroke of luck, the two hair driers
they have are in the direct vision of any mall passers by. I would prefer
that they were stashed away so that no one would be able to see me in
such a prone and weakened state. After what feels like three days of
agonizing hell, the cap comes off and I have golden locks that last
for months! I feel pretty, oh so pretty! Oh dear. Iíve started reciting
show tunes. Thatís never a good sign.
Iíve learned some great
advice concerning proper hair care. Every woman is an absolute expert
when it comes to hygiene, so I get differing opinions. Change your brand
of shampoo after every bottle just so that your hair doesnít get complacent.
Itís a lot like feeding a cat the same brand of tuna-stench flavored
tender vittles for five years. They get sick of it, and after a while,
it just doesnít do it for them anymore. They need something more offensive
to roll out of their mouth when they lick your face. You get my point,
though. Try and condition your hair once a month after your general
wash. The instructions on shampoo are confusing, though. It says to
rinse and repeat. If you follow this to the letter, youíd be in the
tub until doomsday, rinsing and repeating, rinsing and repeating, until
you were grinding foam into your exposed brain stem. And thereís nothing
worse on your scalp (short of boiling acid) than hair gel. Foam and
spritz are all well and good, but gel builds up in your hair like plutonium.
Before you know it youíre clogging all those pretty little follicles
with half lives full of gunk. Foam is best, with a protective halo of
spritz just to keep it all together. And moisture. Lots and lots of
moisture. My head is like a damned weeping willow. I have to water it
constantly or it turns into motzah hair. And when Iíve been very naughty,
or when I sweat profusely, it coils up. It has itís own individuality,
and itís as wild and zany as itís symbiote.
If you take care of your
hair it will take care of you. And if you tip your stylist well and
go to him often enough over the course of a few years, heíll know what
you expect. I expect nothing less than perfection, and thatís why I
keep going to Mario. He told me a story once about the Old Country.
How Italian men would go off to some sort of barberís monastery off
in the mountains for twenty years and study the art of cutting someone
elseís hair. How they would watch others and practice slicing a pair
of scissors suspended upside down for ten years before they were even
allowed to touch another personís head. I doubt that the people who
train at Super Bowl-Cuts do more than watch a fifteen minute video before
they go onto the cutting room floor for their first shift. Mario never
went to one of those Oxford Barber retreats, but heís the closest thing
Iíll get to one of those maestros of style. So my brothers can continue
to subject their heads to fates worse than death or marriage. Thatís
fine. But leave me to my pampering. And my manicures.
I donít really get manicures.
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