“Did you just wake up?” asked Ralph from behind the counter as he poured out my breakfast coffee.
“Something looks different. Did you gain a lot of weight?”
“No, thank you. It’s just a new haircut.”
“You paid for that?”
“Yes, I did. And unlike you, I had to pay full price for having so much hair. You must get, oh what, a 75-percent discount?”
I shouldn’t have said that. For the next two weeks, I will get runny eggs and day-old coffee. Ralph’s service will be slower than usual, there will be no refills and it’ll take forever to get the check. But Ralph knows I’ve been trying to find a new barber ever since Charlie went to Florida after he developed carpal tunnel syndrome two years ago.
“From the repetitive motion of giving every one the exact same haircut for 30 years,” Sue contributed.
“He didn’t give everyone the same haircut. He was an artist.”
“Yeah. So was the guy who painted the dogs sitting around the table playing poker.”
Since Charlie’s been gone, I’ve been to every place in town, and no one seems to get my hair right.
Tone’s House of Hair (formerly Tony’s House of Hair) in the mall won’t take appointments. So each time I go, someone new cuts my hair.
“What happened to Jeannie?” I asked Madame Tone, the proprietor.
“She’s having a baby.”
“I was here two weeks ago. She didn’t mention it. She didn’t even look pregnant.”
“Did I say having a baby? I meant she’s in a safe house hiding from her boyfriend. But Tiffany’s free.”
Tiffany has rainbow colored hair – blue, red, yellow and purple with black tips. Yeah, I know, black isn’t in the rainbow, but then neither is hair. Her eyebrow, nose, lower lip and ears are pierced. She is wearing all black and zippers. I’m guessing she’s about 40 years younger than I am.
“How do you like it?” she asked, running a hand through my gray hair.
“Oh, as Goth as you can make it.” She laughed and did a great job. She gave me a haircut that didn’t look like I’d just gotten a haircut. “Finally,” I thought, “someone who understands me.” Someone who knows that I don’t want to look like a person who spends a lot of time on their hair, but spends a huge amount of time making it look that way. Tiffany and I bonded, and from now on, she would be the only person to touch my hair. Two weeks later, she was gone.
“Don’t tell me she’s hiding from a boyfriend,” I asked Madame Tone.
“No, she was having money problems.”
“Really? She looked so busy. I’m sure she got good tips, too.”
“Yes, that was her money problem. Someone offered her more money to leave here.”
“Where’d she go?”
Madame Tone looked at me as if I had just crawled out of a Paris sewer. “David’s free,” she said.
David had a buzz cut that looked like a five-o’clock shadow. However, he did have one long lock right in the middle of his forehead, pasted into a spit curl. David was wearing huge hoop earrings. My haircut that day was not successful. It looked very much like someone had just cut my hair – with a dull axe.
“You’ll be able to get into all the clubs now,” he said.
Next I went to Nick’s, the jock barbershop with all the men’s and sports magazines and pictures of sports heroes covering the walls. The shop features Nick’s personal collection of autographed footballs, baseballs, basketballs, golf balls and hockey pucks. Nick wanted to carve the logo of his favorite team into my hair. I told him, “If I’m going to be their billboard, they should pay me. Talk to my agent.” After that, Nick lost interest.
Since then, I’ve had my hair gelled, waxed, foamed, thinned, thickened, perfumed, oiled, scissored, clippered, razored, singed, buzzed, shaved, marinated, creamed and souffled. It’s a royal pain. If that weren’t bad enough, I see that the bald guy at the other end of the counter is getting another refill of hot, fresh coffee.
Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.