Sunday, January 27, 2013


Some hassles of relocating are relatively easy. You don't have to look too hard to find out where to get utilities or gasoline.

Some things are a little harder. It took us five different places before we found a really good pizza. Similarly, we've been to five different grocers, and I think we've settled on Stop & Shop as the "go-to" place. We wanted to go to Whole Paycheck Foods, but after finding out about their CEO John Mackey's lunatic Rand-ian viewpoints about a variety of things (chiefly the Affordable Care Act, climate change and unions), we've decided to pass. Besides, we can get organic stuff at Trader Joe's.

One thing I needed to find was a decent barber. There's a chain here called Hair Cuttery that I've seen a number of storefronts for, but the nearest one in Harvard Square is in Harvard Square. As in, forget driving to it.


My last cut was probably in September, or it could have been October. Either way, it's been a while. I have been feeling pretty damned shaggy. So I had to act.

Now, this sort of thing is taken for granted. You find a place you like to get a cut, and you go there. JUST there. Unless you get butchered, do you jump from place to place? Wouldn't that make you kind of a haircut slut?

When I was a kid, my uncle Ronnie used to cut my hair whenever I was back in his little forgotten hometown of Cordell, Okla. Cordell doesn't change. In 1930, the population was 2,936. In 2010, the population was 2,915. I have a lock of my hair from when Ronnie cut it when I was six; it's blond as blond can be. Ronnie got out of the haircut biz and moved to Vegas. Hard to believe he's been gone so long now.

Haircuts in the 60s were pretty simple: pretty much buzz it all. When I was really little I had a flattop. Those were actually kind of cool. When the 70s came along I didn't get my hair cut that much. It was the 70s! But I had a guy named Jimmy Deaton in Lake Highlands cut my hair for years. In my memory Jimmy was surely a cool hippie dude. He kind of looked like Wolfman Jack. Great guy.

In my 20s I had my hair cut by a woman named Gail, who was maybe 10 years older than me and who had two kids and a fun boyfriend. My then-significant other and I used to hang out with Gail, but after everyone broke up later there was some awkward chemistry developing and I had to find another haircut situation.

After that I became a haircut vagabond. My haircut thing during my settled married years is completely unremembered. That seems weird, to have no recollection. Perhaps there's some sort of psychological implication in that. Perhaps not.

When I landed in Gawd's Country I first got a haircut at one of those "Hooters as Haircutters" places. This is a whole 'nother topic... places that play upon the pathetic and impossible fantasies of the American male... dude, wake up. That waitress/haircutter/stripper ain't going home with you -- just your money.

I think I'm off-track...

So, I found a reliable place off the square. At first, my hair was cut by a bookish Asian smoker who went by the name of Tim. I didn't like that sometimes his fingers smelled smoky, or that sometimes his cuts were great and sometimes they were not good at all. Tim moved on and then Mary cut my hair. Mary was closer to my age, had a family and seemed very stable. She was a nice woman. And she did a decent job on my hair.

Some people my age have lost their hair. I should be grateful that my head still sprouts abundantly. But my hair is very fine, with almost no natural shape. It just... grows. It's got some grey in it now. Don't love that. But otherwise, I've just kind of had a general acceptance of my average hair. All I want is for it not to bug me. When it gets too long, it bugs me.


I couldn't take it any more. When my hair reaches critical overhairy mass, you can tell by the hat test. The hat test is when you put a hat on and your hair bulges out of the sides like a goddam Chia pet run amok.

The situation is particularly bad since it's gotten so cold here. You cannot sensibly travel around without a toque. This leads to inescapable hat hair. It's just, as Bailo would say, "annoying AF."

Monday we did a museum tour (more on that later on this channel). To get there we walked, bused and took two train lines. It was cold, and the temperature variance between crowded train and cold exterior made for sweathead. Ick.

So Tuesday I went for a cut. There was a little place near here that looked good. A real "mom and pop" feel to it, off a side street. I went.

After finding street parking, I entered the barber shop. A sign said it had been in business since 1929.

A young man was already in the chair. His girlfriend was selecting a magazine. It looked to be the usual variety: ridiculously out-of-date issues of Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated, and the like. Pro Tip: Cull the magazines once every quarter at the least. No one wants to handle a sticky issue of People with Michael Jackson on the cover.

The small, tatted barber with a hipster lid and a white smock grunted something unintelligible toward me as I walked in. The conversation:

Barber: "Ungh hehh umb blafff."
Me: "Uh... I really need a haircut."
Barber, inflection indicating a question, or perhaps a lack of previous human interaction: "Merg glunny beng blem megett?"

Perplexed, I made the American Sign Language gesture for "haircut" by making a scissoring motion near my head and saying "Haircut?"

He possibly nodded toward the chairs where generic girlfriend was perhaps catching up on news of Mary-Kate and Ashley's clothing line. I sat, worriedly. I didn't have a great feeling about this.

And yet, there I sat. Everyone in the room seemed uncomfortable. Did they think I was Lemming of the B.D.A.?

Five minutes had elapsed and I had one hour of street parking. It was possible this experience was going to run beyond an hour.

I wanted out but because of the weird vibe, now I felt like just leaving would be awkward.

My genius idea: I texted M -- "call me asap"

The phone rang within a minute.

I answered and, being considerate, picked up my coat and went outside to carry on the conversation. Once outside, the ruse was over and I explained my cryptic text. Escape engage.


Later, I Yelped barber shops and found a highly rated place nearby. I went, it was done satisfactorily, and Taylor will now be my barber.

MORAL: Appreciate your hair care professional! Or, as they say, "Grenug agnat brentag kremmgrb." 

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