Saturday, April 28, 2007

Half the Family Meets the Scissors

What is it about hair? We spend so much time and money on something that is completely useless to the evolution of our species, but it is the one thing that, no matter who you are or what you’re doing, you indelibly care about (Kurt Cobain aside of course, but he’s dead…). We comb it, wash it, primp it, cut it, and make sure that it doesn’t attract nesting birds, and what is the point? I’d just as soon buzz it all of, which is an easy thing to say since I’ve been blessed with thick, albeit heavily graying, hair, and when it does start to go 40 or 50 years from now, I’m sure I’ll rue what I’ve just said here.

Hair is usually one of the first things we notice about a person, and it has become a benchmark on which we guide our opinion about someone, from their hygiene and personality to their health. Healthy looking hair, befits a nice person onto which we place value; not so healthy looking hair, is a sickly person whom we pity. Have we ever had a bald President? Has a bald man ever been Time’s Man of the Year (actually, I have no idea; I’m just throwing that one out there in the dark). And when is the last time you saw a bald man accepting an Oscar?

That said, I spent time at two different barber shops getting two separate heads of hair cut, as it became time for Matthew to have that Flock of Seagulls—that is weighing down his brain and undoubtedly doing irreparable damage to his neck muscles and spine—cut for once and for all.

Of course, the same problem dredged to the surface again, and that is dealing with his curly locks, a collection of tussled tresses that has defined his character as a sweet-hearted little toddler. Kara is afraid that, without them, he will degrade into some kind of menacing hellion with a buzz cut, suddenly turning to a mean-spirited 15-year-old up to his eye sockets with angst and rebellion. I for one attach no sentimentality to his hair, curly or otherwise, and think that he needs to have a haircut that reflects the times rather than the heartstrings. Would he look any less cute without the curls? Of course not, but at the same time, we’ll have a lot less birds trying to balance eggs on his head.

Kara felt differently, which is probably what motivated her to get a pair of scissors and attempt a modification of his nose-reaching bangs. Good intentions aside (I’m sure he was having trouble seeing through the cascades of fringe), when I saw his new hairline, it reminded me of two things: the jagged, rocky tips of the Teton Mountains, those incredibly rugged and impressively uneven peaks in Wyoming, and the plastic hair that you attach to the tops of the heads of Lego people, snugly fitting, face framing and very constricting.

The fact that the boy lacked ears is really what it came down to, and although I once considered haircuts to be outside the realms of my duties as a father, I’m realizing that in order for the boy to start on the road to become a man, he needs a good haircut (something I lacked until well into my late 20s, so I know all about it). And putting his faith in the scissor-armed hands of his mother to look fashionable, cool and dateable outside the circles of the Audio/Visual department, is like the sheep putting their faith in the wolves. The last thing a mother wants is her son to be attractive to other girls, her ultimate replacement.

Perhaps with a tinge of passive-aggressiveness, she put it off and she put it off and she put it off. I mentioned it every time I saw Matthew, and the more time that went by the more he started to look like Cousin It from The Addam’s Family. And I found myself making excuses for him when we other people commented on his hair, which made me resentful. The last thing you want to do is defend your son, especially when it is about something that is totally not his fault or problem, and soon it dawned on me that I wasn’t defending him for his appearance, I was defending our lack of parenting skills, thinking that people were judging my laziness to get his hair cut.

“If they won’t even cut his hair, imagine how long they go between diaper changes!

So, I made the appointment, and not really sure where to take a toddler for a haircut, we returned to the place where he got his first one, lo those many months ago. I called to make an appointment, and I was given the impression that it would be a madhouse if I didn’t arrive prompt and I didn’t get there before school lets out at 3pm. And as I’m driving the 25 or so miles out there, I’m wondering why isn’t there a place closer to my own house, surprised at myself for not doing a little checking around.

We were late because I got lost, but it was only five minutes or so. I pictured the shop mobbed with throngs of heavy-headed kids all clamoring for a spot in the chair, and the poor hairstylist up to her hips in hair clippings from the hundreds of other procrastinating parents who want to see what their own kids’ ears really look like.

The place was empty, dead quiet empty, and I though I saw a tumblehair drift by in the afternoon breeze. Like last time, we propped him up into the barber chair shaped like a mini Jeep, and that’s when he started to cry and he didn’t stop crying until I picked him out of the Jeep again merely 10 minutes later.

The woman who cut his hair was a surprising choice by management to have around impressionable children, so much that I don’t think we’ll go back. Just for description’s sake, she wasn’t a small woman, and I’m not going to hold that against her at all, but what I will is her choice of clothing. Now, granted it was in the low 90s and we are on the verge of summer here, but that doesn’t mean you should go around in a tank top, especially when there are children around, especially when some of them are fresh from being weaned from breastfeeding. It was like she had two bald-headed men hugging under her shirt, and she was wearing what I can only describe as a shelf bra, one that goes well above and beyond its job as a lifter and separator, but instead wrenches those things up as high as they can go. The end result was Grand Canyon cleavage they can probably see from space.

Though somewhat disturbing, I was mostly bothered by the tattoos…not one, not two, not even six, but eight visible tattoos on her arms and shoulders, and she was sporting that rat rod mod-style haircut that is straight from the 1953 car culture era, jet black, straight bangs with a ponytail or two. However, she looked like a Harley rider, and I expected a Harley to be parked outside. When she rode it, smart-ass people would undeniably utter, “Look, there goes a couple of hogs.” Too far? Probably, especially since she did seem like a nice person, but regardless of the fact that we were taught not to judge a book by its cover, often times we do. I always do: You look like a dirtbag, odds are good that you are on.

Here is a video clip of the poor little guy subjected to thousands of his little hairs being unceremoniously hacked off.

So, he stopped crying when I rescued him from the unbelievably not-fun Jeep and the scary tattoo hairstylist woman and we left, taking nearly three times longer to get home than it did for the whole haircut.

Admittedly, I compromised with Kara. I didn’t tell Dita Von Teese to take to take off too much… wow, I could leave this sentence at that and let you draw your own conclusions from my Dita Von Teese reference (if you get it)… but this is a family blog, so I didn’t tell her to take off… as much hair as I thought she should of, so the results are kind of mixed for me. It’s short but not short enough, so when he wakes up from a nap he looks exactly like I do when my hair is too long.

Speaking of which, I found myself in his exact situation the day before, only that time there was a lot less crying and it only cost me a couple dollars more. My main motivation for getting a haircut was because I could no longer brush my hair. It wasn’t that it was so long or thick or infested with lice that I couldn’t get the brush to go through it, it was that I physically couldn’t brush my hair because I had lost my hairbrush. Matthew is at the age and the height where he can get into the top drawers now, and there’s very few things that gives him more fun and enjoyment than to have his hair brushed (don’t judge). Evidentially, he can do it for himself, so periodically my hairbrush winds up missing, and that’s okay, because I don’t normally have to use it unless my hair gets at that length that deems a cutting; therefore, needs combing. As it was, for the past few days, my hair was getting long enough that I was missing my brush… astute readers could say, “Ryan, why don’t you just go down to that Target you so love and pick up a new brush and end the suffering?” That, my dear reader, is a fine idea, but you know what would happen the mere second I came home with a replacement brush? Yep, the old one would turn up faster than a fish in chlorine and just what would I do with two brushes? I don’t need the moral dilemma of throwing out a perfectly good brush just because I have a brand new one… plus, once I did that, I would find out that I don’t like the new one and I’d be stuck.

But it is a moo point (a cow’s opinion…thank you Joey), because the need to comb my hair with a brush is the signal that I need to get it cut. And that is exactly where I found myself on Thursday morning, contemplating the paradox of a piece of hair.

It wasn’t crowded in the haircut place I go, but the fact that they only had two people cutting hair, cause quite a backup, and Thursday must have been bring in the youngin day to get them gussied up for some family event this weekend. To my left was a guy and his teenaged son, who both seemed to have mixed feelings about being there, and to my left was a white couple with an obviously adopted daughter, who must have played the cello because of the band aids on both knees. They wanted to take down some of her well-developed afro without losing any of the poofiness of her hair; the concept baffled the hairstylists, this Amazonian woman who towered well over me, as she looked like she was standing in front of one of those funhouse mirrors that stretched her out, and it didn’t help that she was stilted on three-inch platform-heeled boots. She probably bumped her head on the doorframe, and it is no wonder she cuts her hair really short, because nobody can see up that far anyway.

The other girl was much shorter, so much so, that her three-inch-fat flip-flops barely raised her up over the counter. So, today, it was like Laurel and Hardy were cutting hair. And I was all too willing to be subjected to it.

As I was sitting there, I noticed something profoundly interesting. In the chair was a attractive woman. She must have been in her middle-40s and probably was quite a catch 20 years ago, and more interestingly, she had really nice hair, long, wavy and fairly thick. The father-son team on my left spent an inordinate amount of time looking in her direction, at least the father did. She was there to take about two inches off of the bottom, which left quite a pile of clippings on the floor around her chair. When she got up to leave, the hairstylist didn’t have a chance to sweep up all of the excess hair before the father sat down in the hair. But funny thing is that he purposely picked his way through the piles of hair, careful not to step on any of it. It made me wonder: Why is hair so attractive on a person, but as soon as it travels the five or six feet to the ground, it is instantly transformed into something to be reviled? I will run my fingers through my wife’s hair at any given chance, and its qualities are the stuff fairy tales are made of, but when I see that exact same hair clotting the holes of the shower drain, I don’t even like touching it with the scrubby brush. Why?

So, that guy got his hair buzzed even shorter, and I stalled around to make sure all of the hair was swept away before I came near the chair… hey, I don’t condone it; I just think about it.

The hairstylist that cut my hair—I got the short one (Hardy), which gave me some relief because the tall one (Laurel) had a slack-jaw and spend a considerable amount of time with her mouth gaping open, one of my peeves—did a meticulous job at making sure everything was perfectly even, and she took a lot longer than I expected her to, but one thing worried me. While she was snipping away, the phone rang. I don’t mind that. It’s a business and people have asinine questions they can’t answer for themselves so they have to call, and the people that work there have to answer those asinine questions. However, not while they’re cutting my hair. So, Oliver Hardy goes from being a competent hair stylist (even though she had skulls on above said three-inch-tall flip-flops and only three of her ten finger nails were painted…and the paint was black)…anyways, she goes from being a competent hair stylist with two hands diligently practicing her craft on my head to being a questionable hair stylist with one hand holding the phone, distractedly answering a scheduling question from some woman who needs a perm and a trim. Hello, is my head getting in the way of this lady’s calendar problems?

She hung up, I check that both of my ears were still there, and then she hands me the giant mirror. Aside from signal planes, I never know why I am supposed to care to check her work. She rotates me so I can see the back of my head with the giant mirror, not knowing that I don’t give a damn if it looks good or not… anyone worth their merit to hold a cosmology license should be able to make a straight line on the back of my head without me having to approve it. Plus, I never, ever, ever get the opportunity to look back there, and if anyone has a problem with it, I don’t care because it means they’re seeing me walk away from them (I don’t walk away from people I care about) or they’re standing too close to me at the ATM… and they should back the hell up.

The experience cost me $15 bucks, and on top of the $12 for Matthew, that still puts us well ahead of the curve as far as hair cutting costs in this household… in fact, we still have five more credits each until we catch up to one of Kara’s outings.

And guess what I found when I came home that day? That’s right, my brush.

It figures.

1 comment:

Ryan or Kara said...

The reason why I didn't want him to lose the curls is because he looks so CUTE with them. And he still looks like a precious baby with them. Albeit, he is still an adorable toddler even with his big boy haircut. Also, I would never cut anything but the bangs, because, well I stated this in my blog awhile back. I am not a hairstylist. I just wanted the little fella to be able to see.


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