Though my hair was longer than it ever had been before, I was happy with the length, more or less. And even though I have only one more week at Traveler, I felt I had to make the effort to put forward the smallest efforts toward looking professional. So I found the only salon open on Black Friday, this spot just west of Dupont Circle, and got a haircut.
“It just too long. I’m pretty happy with the length in front, but the top needs a bit cut off. The sides and back are way long too.”
The hundred-pound hair fairy immediately buzzes the clippers on the shortest setting across my left temple. Bam — just like that, months of length obliterated with the mere buzzing of a handheld device no bigger than a Game Boy.
“Whoa. That’s not what I wanted, dude. That’s not what I asked for.”
He tells me that I said it was too long. He’s right. I did. But never — never — did I tell him that I wanted to shear my head within an inch of my life.
“Well I guess there’s no point in stopping now, since you’ve already started.”
And from there begins the longest fucking haircut of my life. He buzzes the rest of my head, taking off nearly everything I’d grown. Fuck. That hair had a history, I remembered thinking. It was still blond from the summer, when I was actually outside, before I sacrificed my free time for the nine-to-five drag. Fuck fuck fuck. Eventually, he finished, spun me around in my chair and gave me a hand mirror. Hair fairy tells me that he thinks I look better this way.
“You gave me your haircut,” I proclaim.
I’m right. This guy ignored everything I asked for and cut and styled my hair precisely how he wears his. It’s short, spiky, pulled together in the middle. We look like two cadets in the some lightweight gay army squadron.
“I’m not paying for this. I hate it. I don’t like your hair and I don’t like it on me.”
Eventually, the guy at the cash register agrees that I shouldn’t have to pay full price for something I didn’t want. They charge me ten bucks. I have yet to decide whether I was still ripped off. A more sympathetic — yet equally fey — hairdresser chatting with the register guy has witnessed the entire transaction and puts in his three dollar bill of wisdom: “I say if he hates it that much, we should pay him the ten dollars so he can buy a hat.”
Highs in the forties today — definitely the kind of weather that would demand more head covering instead of less. I guess I could make better use of the scarf. It’s not the end of my follicle world; a few months would bring me back to where I was, and in Santa Barbara I at least know and trust certain hair professionals when I ask them not to enlist me in gay boot camp.
When I think about it, I hope I made my barber cry. To paraphrase the Sisters, this really will be the last time you ever do my hair.