The Haircut

6 December 2004 at 14:52 (General)

In the past, haircuts have been painful. They have been periods I’ve dreaded to the point of considering dreads. I’ve avoided the barber like the plague, but avoiding a ‘hairy’ leads only to magnified pain and suffering.

I am not exaggerating, I’m not blowing this out of proportion, hair cuts were a dominant factor in me wanting to leave home. For the past few years my brother and I would be terrorised by our parents because of our lack of pride in our appearance. Haircuts became the centre piece of their argument. As soon as we started to look slightly unruly they would begin pestering us to go and get our hair cut.

Dad would try to ensure us that we were very lucky to be able to get our hair cut by professionals. He never did until he was in his 20’s because his mum insisted that she would do it to save money. Mum and Dad tried to be reasonable, they told us that they would pay and we could have it cut however we wanted as long as it complied with the school rules. They didn’t understand, the only ‘style’ I wanted my hair in was that of an unruly, overgrown punk teenager who didn’t care the slightest about such superficial nonsense concerning outward appearance. I told them this. They agreed that it was superficial but they persisted that, “personal appearance is important because it tells the world what sort of person you are. A caring person takes pride in their presentation”. I told them that I didn’t want people to make such shallow judgements of me and I didn’t want respect from a world that would judge me on such a stupid property. I wanted a hair cut that reflected my belief that haircuts are vain and stupid and that people should have more important things to worry about (i realise it’s doublethink to say people should have more important things to worry about and then write an essay about the topic).

It was an argument I always lost, occasionally with tears. After a few weeks of this pointless debate I would tire and ‘go get my ears lowered (I never understood that expression but my uncle used it whenever someone got a haircut). I submitted to a haircut just to end the fight, because it wasn’t worth the energy.

Once a friend I knew from primary school who is now a hairdresser cut my hair and did a good job, it looked pretty funky. When I got home mother’s comment was “did you do that just to infuriate me?”. Needless to say, this is a pretty rude response when after weeks of torment your son has gone against his wishes and tried to abide by your code of practice.

Some time later it was getting to the stage again where my vision was being impaired. I’d been to the barbers a couple of times before and asked for a crew cut but on both occasions he refused because I have “beautiful hair”. It just seemed practical and it would remove some of my ascetic identity. It was what I wanted. So I went out to the shed, found dad’s shears and started hacking away at my head. It turned out a little harder then expected so I asked my sister to lend a hand. She took the clippers and tried to finish the 1mm crew cut. It was looking great but Becca insisted that there were some longer bits down towards the front left. She dug the clippers in and I ended up with some ripples running through my hair. It didn’t look cool, it looked messy, but frankly my dear, I didn’t give a damn.

Dad did though when he saw it. It was a crime against humanity to have such a half-arsed job and he ordered me to go to the barber to see if it could be fixed.

I knew it would be uncomfortable, but nothing could have prepared me for the reaction of the barber. He was torn apart by the loss. He somehow took it rather personally but agreed to try and fix it. He put the smallest guard on his clippers and pressed it hard into my scalp. After about ten minutes it was looking a little more professional so I asked him how much I owed him. He wouldn’t take it, he claimed he hadn’t given me a haircut, he hadn’t done anything and didn’t deserve any payment. I disagreed, he had worked his magic, so I left ten bucks (his usual price, bless his soul) on the counter and took off before further argument could be entered into. The next time he saw my dad he vented much anger for my disobedience and I coped it when dad got home and then again when I returned for my next hairy.

As a side note I would just like to mention the beauty of the crew cut. It is too easy to look after, little washing, no drying, no combing, no weight, improved aerodynamics, no problems. You cannot have a bad hair day. As far as practicality is concerned, this is as good as it gets. EVERYONE should try being bold, at least once.

Anyway, sick of the continuous arguing over haircuts I decided enough was enough. It was time for me to be my own master. I left home. I’ve been living away for about six months now and during this time my parents have only mentioned my hair once. I only see them about once a month and when I do they are much more gentle, they miss me, they really do love me. After six months in the wilderness my hair was getting kind of long and yesterday my hair was all over the place.

When mum pointed out how overdue I was I surprised her, telling her I was probably going to get it cut within 24 hours. I went on to explain that I was getting it cut by a girl who lives around the corner from my place. I was telling mum about the school this girl goes to when mum queried weather this girl was going to become a hairdresser. I don’t believe so. I told her that as far as I know her only experience was in cutting her own hair.

This notion was met with disbelief. Apparently I cannot do such an act. It is wrong and dangerous.

So, to spite her, and for the high novelty value I pursued this dream.

It had the potential to be little worrying at times with comments from the amateur hairdresser including “I really shouldn’t do it like this”, or “I don’t think this side is as good as the other”, or from her friend who was on looking: “are you crazy? she’s doing a terrible job, she’s gonning to screw it up”. I wasn’t phased though, this girl is artistically brilliant and she has good taste and if worse came to worse and she felt that she’d blotched it beyond repair, I told her it was fine to take razor to it and we’ll start again.

I paid her in chocolate bars and thanked her muchly. I returned home and checked it out. I decided it didn’t look too bad, very similar to styles I’d had before and I couldn’t see anything indicating that it had been crafted by a lay person. It looked great although I wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of having to apply product in the morning and perhaps even have it trimmed within 2 months (I feel I need to do justice to such a good personal cut, normally I just let it grow out -and out and out some more). It was very good, but it seemed a little bit too high maintenance.

My flat mate got home a little later and she almost flipped. She thought it was fantastic and was surprised by how well the child had cut it. Even just then, as I was writing this several hours later she is still commenting on how good it looks so it must be all right. So i blow the sentiment of a raspberry into the face of my parents and all the non believers who snarked at the prospect of getting an experimental haircut. You were wrong and now I have a lighter head and my artist has a Turkish Delight.

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