Of Baldness and Barbers: Hula Hoops or Plastic Fish?
I just got my hair cut yesterday.
I get my hair cut more often than I need to. I think this is because my hairline is receding and deep down I worry that this is a waning pleasure, that someday trips to the barber will become wholly unnecessary. I don’t want to be one of those guys who can’t come to terms with hair loss, or is hypersensitive about it—although I admit that (before I had a girlfriend) I Googled “baldness + do women find attractive?”, and I was happy to discover that in 1992 TV Guide named Patrick Stewart the Sexiest Man on TV. He’s the Shakespearian actor who portrayed the glabrous galaxy-hopping Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s a near total egghead. The show is set in the 24th century, and by that time, they’ve evidently discovered a solution to everything from poverty to racism. They just haven’t found a cure for male pattern baldness.
What I certainly don’t want to become is one of those old guys who pays $14.99 or more just to have someone trim his donut or snip the sparsely follicated fuzz growing over his brain, a brain firmly stuck in a state of denial. That looks desperate. To me, that speaks of a man who views the strands on his head as indispensable straps needed to lash down his sense of self-worth, to secure his own feeling of physical attractiveness. I will never become that man, I think to myself. Then I walk through Wal-Mart and contemplate Rogaine.
I get my hair cut at a place called Stylz. In the past, I would never have patronized such a place. Before, I frequented places where the stylists are called barbers, products consists of shaving cream and talcum powder, and the walls are hung with shotguns and plastic fish. The last time I was in such a place, the house television was playing Red Sonya, a 1985 Conan the Barbarian spin-off featuring Brigitte Nielsen, the Danish actress who could arm wrestle the She-Hulk. Milt, the sixtysomething throwback “cutting my hair” with a Braun electric razor, stepped back for a moment to take in the scene.
“She’s a [dang] Amazon,” he said.
“She’s got a [heckuva] body on her, though. You ever seen a body like that?”
“So,” Milt continued. “What do you do for a living?”
I chuckled, anticipating awkwardness.
“I work at a church,” I said.
“No kidding?” Milt replied, quickly adding: “I believe in God.”
He pointed at the television.
“You can’t look at her and not.”
I nodded my head again, smiled, but said nothing. Did he still want to know if “I’d seen a body like that?”
A month later, I returned to Plastic Fish Barber Shop. I was in desperate need of a haircut, but it was Monday, and the sign said that they were closed on Mondays. That’s when I looked across the street and noticed that Stylz was open.
Now, I am not (I don’t think) insecure in my masculinity, but I wondered for a moment whether entering this salon, with all its pep and pizzazz, would make others question it. At Plastic Fish, the walls were earth tones, the color scheme of camouflage, so that you felt like you were getting your hair cut at Cabela’s or an Army surplus store. The atmosphere was charged with testosterone.
But Stylz was different. Through the large storefront window, I could see the brightly colored walls, painted a flamboyant canary yellow, fire engine red, and a deep soda pop purple. All the furniture, from the front desk to the wall frames to the barber chairs, were shiny, star-pressed iron. Instead of shotguns and plastic fish, there were photos of pouting blondes and saucy redheads. Paul Mitchell hair care products lined the shelves. And there were hula hoops hanging from the ceiling.
Was this really the place for me?
Actually, it turned out it was. Kari, the woman who cut my hair—a classy, brassy fortysomething—did a great job. (Although, in truth, there’s really no way to mess up my hair—whether you use a good pair of scissors or a sharp rock.) More importantly, she had several life stories to tell that sounded like lyrics from a country music song. I’m a sucker for a good storyteller. So, I decided to stay with her. She’s cut my hair every two weeks or so for the last two years.
But…she just moved to Dallas. Bummer.
So, maybe it’s time to re-assert my masculinity and go back to Plastic Fish. Or just shave my head altogether. I don’t know.
I read somewhere that one of the most treasured things in a woman’s life is a good stylist. Supposedly, finding a great one can be like striking gold. Other than the ability to cut hair, I’d be interested in whether there are other factors that influence where a woman chooses to get her hair cut.
Ladies, what do you think?
As far as the men out there, what kinds of things are hanging on the walls of your barber shop? Plastic fish? Elk? Moose heads?
And what’s playing on the television? Baseball games? Home improvement shows? Arnold Schwarzenegger movies?
No real reason for asking. Just curious.