I’ve always hated getting a haircut.
When I was a kid, I had a severe ticklish reaction on my neck. As a haircut involves someone poking around the neck, I was a squirming nightmare for hair-cutting professionals.
Generally, my mother eased this burden by carefully selecting an accommodating salon.
I suspect she also tipped well.
But a boy cannot forever be taken by his mother into the caring, understanding graces of a hair stylist.
The day comes when he must visit the barber.
My experience with the barber — and I say “the barber” in the utter confidence that for me, the man I am about to describe shall remain the only such hair care worker I ever encounter — occurred under the guidance of my father.
Dad didn’t patronize a salon. Not even a barbershop. Rather, Dad, like many of the other firefighters at our local station, was a patron of the services of one of the men, who, for the purposes of anonymity, I shall refer to as “Buzz.”
If I’m remembering correctly, Buzz learned his trade while serving in the army. His tool was a clipper. His style offerings were numbered. The numbers matched the settings on the clipper.
There were no frills in this barber’s “shop,” by which I refer to an otherwise unused corner of the fire station’s hose room wherein Buzz practiced his art with nothing but the aforementioned clippers, a chair — not a barber’s chair, just a chair — a broom, and a dustpan.
Into this place my father escorted me one fine Saturday morning, with the intention that we should both get haircuts.
I had never encountered clippers before, and while a person with scissors nipping around my neck was enough to set off a tickle response, a pair of buzzing clippers … well, today I can bear clippers through willpower and a diminished tickle response; at age 8 I had no willpower and a powerful tickle response.
I came home with half a haircut, and my mother neatened things up with a pair of scissors, no doubt wondering why she hadn’t just done this to start with.
I don’t have the severe ticklish reaction anymore. (I don’t get carsick, either, but that’s a whole other tale of childhood turmoil.) Nonetheless, I still hate having a haircut.
I have no moral objection to long hair, but, having spent most of my life in the South, I have always endured a strong, prevailing social pressure to look “respectable.” Often, this has served as reason enough to endure a haircut, especially upon certain sacred official occasions — participating in a wedding, going for a job interview, posing for a formal portrait.
In the absence of social pressure, my hair grows — I don’t enter a salon except under duress.
I adore an absence of duress.
Once upon a time, my hair ran down my back with abandon. College, followed by jobs at a couple of easygoing newspapers, allowed that.
After years with ponytail-length tresses, one day, more or less on a whim, I cut my hair.
Since that day, I have had just enough of the right social demands, spaced at just the right intervals, that my hair has been more or less short for the past few years. Sure, it has been on its way toward unruly hippie proportions a few times, but, on average, “presentable” has been a good descriptor of my hair.
I last had a proper haircut shortly before the wedding of one of my best friends, approximately a year ago.
Last night, I had an interesting realization: My choice to go for short hair coincided, roughly, with the time I stopped writing freely.
No doubt it’s coincidental that I am embarking upon blogging as my hair once again ventures into The Land Below The Collar, but the coincidence still amuses me.
Onward, words and hair; may you both flow freely.