I got my first real haircut the other day. Well, that’s not fair. I got my first haircut that cost more than $14 the other day, is what I should say. It didn’t cost all that much more than $14. More than twice as much, but less than three times as much. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it cost $33.
It was also my first haircut in a very long time that wasn’t administered by a surly Greek, Russian, or Uzbek man. It was a woman and I think she was Russian and she was beautiful. She didn’t feel the need to talk to me, which was great as far as I was concerned. Talking to barbers/stylists gives me the social anxiety sweats.
I ended up in this slightly upscale salon after getting the last in a long string of haircuts that were not at all what I wanted. I’ve made do but I’ve essentially spent my adult life with hair that I slightly regret. Please withhold your pity and spend it on people more deserving*. My last haircut was an exercise in comedy. I walked into a Greek barbershop in my neighborhood** looking to get my hair trimmed for a play I was in at the time. I surveyed the premises: two young-looking barbers cutting the hair of two young men whose haircuts I wouldn’t mind having. This was good.
There was an empty chair but no barber to man it, so I sat down and picked up a copy of the least embarrassing magazine I could find. Then, out walked the oldest, crustiest looking Greek barber on the face of the earth. He had a couple days growth of stubble, two or three gold chains, and moved at the speed of Feta cheese. He motioned to a chair for me to sit down.
I began to launch into my lengthy and overly-complicated spiel*** but he cut me off after two words with a knowing nod. I wanted what I essentially wanted from every haircut I had ever gotten which was to a) make it look like I hadn’t gotten a haircut b) not be too clean or preppy-looking and c) not look like a mullet. Clearly, he had gleaned all this from the “Well, I-” I was able to sputter out before he began slicing into my hair. With two snips of the scissors it became abundantly clear that I was not getting anything close to what I wanted. I immediately had the impulse to speak up but what was I going to say? “Could you tape that back on please?”. It was too late.
He asked me who had last cut my hair. This is something that surly barbers apparently like to do: insult your hair by asking who the last idiot was who cut it so horribly. He then asked me if it was “some woman”. At this point, I would love to say that I stood up for my counterpart gender. I would love to say that I ripped off my smock**** and said, “What the fuck does that mean, asshole?” or perhaps something more eloquent. But, I am not a confrontationalist. Not in general, and certainly not in a situation in which it was now my sole goal to get out of there and never come back. So, I smiled weakly and accepted the misogyny, just another silent accomplice.
The haircut I ended up getting from him was fine. There was nothing wrong with it besides the fact that it was not at all what I wanted. So, I vowed to make an upgrade the next time. Which led me to a salon on 30th ave. in Astoria at the recommendation of Eric. I walked in and immediately had no clue what to do. There were at least 4 or 5 sections of chairs (as opposed to the requisite waiting and cutting areas of a barber shop). I wandered up to the front desk, absolutely unclear as to where to sit. Thankfully, the man running the place (who looked like what I assume fashion designers look like) pointed me to a seat next to three very well-dressed women*****. I felt like a hobo in an art gallery. I texted Eric to let him know that this place gave me the working-class sweats and he texted back that I should take advantage of one of the complimentary glasses of wine they hand out. This was a game-changer. I didn’t have any work later in the evening so I absolutely could have taken advantage. But then I second-guessed myself. What if Eric was messing with me? Or even if he weren’t, what if they had recently discontinued that service? Or what if they didn’t give it out this early in the day?****** The thought of asking for a glass of wine at a salon and having the person say no or look at me like I was crazy made me want to stick an expensive curling iron into my eye, so I abstained.
Next was the shampoo. I was way too tall for the chair/sink set up so I had to maneuver myself into a sort of horizontal yoga pose and lock myself that way for the five minute process. The beautiful woman massaging my scalp asked if I used conditioner. “Should I?” I answered, defensively. “No,” she said, “I was just asking.”
Mercifully, it was pretty standard from there on out. My...stylist? haircutter? barberess? was very kind and gentle and quiet and I ended up with a nice haircut for not a whole lot more than I usually spent. Was the haircut...better? It’s hard to say. At the very least I got more or less what I asked for*******. And next time I’ll get the wine.
*Mumford and Sons fans
**Not the one I usually go to. I had just gotten a haircut from them, was dissatisfied with it, and didn’t have the courage to go back in and ask for it to be re-cut.
***I don’t know how to describe what I want in terms of haircuts. I don’t know what any of the terms mean and I’m afraid to ask.
****Is that what they’re called?
*****I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans with holes in them.
******It was 2 pm. Don’t judge.
*******Even though I still don’t really know what I want.