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Getting a haircut

By Tony Carnevale
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 22, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Tony Carnevale

I rarely get haircuts. Not because of any sort of hip, fashionable attempt to look like Charles Manson, but rather because I strongly dislike the whole barbering process. It really seems like I should be able to cut my own hair, and I'm admitting a form of incompetence by requiring others to do it. Of course, if I were to actually attempt self-barbering, my inept haircut would be of secondary importance to the fact that I'd be on the floor, twitching in a sticky lake of my own blood.

It's people like me who are targeted by the Flow-Bee corporation, marketers of the "Flow-Bee Precision Home Haircutting System." For $80, I could attach the FBPHHS (for short) to an ordinary vacuum cleaner, and safely make myself resemble John, Paul, George or Ringo circa 1964. (Considering the rest of my features, I would have to resort to Ringo most of the time.)

Since I'd rather not sacrifice $80 on the altar of loserdom that is the Flow-Bee, what ends up happening is I get a regular haircut every few months, and when my hair grows out to the point of endangering the lives of small children, I slink back to a barbershop. After trying several different places, including the agrammatical "A Aardvark Barber Shop" (a transparent ploy for a good yellow-pages listing) I've finally settled on one. I shouldn't name it, since it repeatedly beats its own record as "worst barbershop experience I've ever had."

One wonders what attracted me to this place initially. Was it the velvet Elvii? The lulling drone (or, perhaps, droning lull) of moldy pop ballads? The sheer proliferation of '50s kitsch scattered about the place? No. What attracted me to this barber shop was a sheer yen for self-punishment. If I must have someone else cut my hair, I reasoned, I might as well make it as unenjoyable as possible.

I'll call this barber "Jack," which is not his real name. This is not out of any attempt to conceal his identity, but rather because I don't know what his name is. The two choicest words that might be used to describe him are "crusty" and "geezer," not necessarily in that order. He curses when the phone rings, he curses when he can't find his scissors, he curses when there's a two-second break in what passes for conversation. Every time I walk in the door, he makes some noise about how it's been eons since my last haircut. Apparently, I missed the sign about owing Jack frequent and regular visits beginning the first time you walk in the door.

"I saw you combing your hair outside in the car," he once said, "and you did a shitty job." I forced the obligatory, ingratiating chuckle, feeling a strange pang of guilt whose intensity would only have been justified if I had been committing tax evasion outside in the car. For the duration of the haircut, I tried my best to see my car from where Jack might have stood, and it was impossible: the car was completely blocked from view. Conclusion: Jack has x-ray vision. Next time, I'm going back to "A Aardvark."