TORONTO, ONTARIO: Hair salons used to be the providence of women. But no more! It has become increasingly acceptable for men to walk into a salon for a haircut. Unfortunately, this is not a good sign for old-fashioned barbershops. I liked those barber shops. They actually cut your hair with scissors. Now, the clippers are the first weapon yielded to battle unsightly long hair. The clippers leave a buzz cut look and your hair grows in at all different lengths. I tell people I finally joined the army.
Whenever I ask for a scissor cut, I usually get the silent treatment for the duration of our time together. Which is okay with me, as I never know what to say. A good hair stylist knows when you want to talk and understands when you don’t want to talk.
A while ago, I walked into a hair salon. A local place with one chair. He told me to come back because he was busy. The place was empty. We didn’t start out on the right foot. I told him I could wait. He finally sat me in the chair and threw one of those books that showcased different hairstyles into my lap. I just told him I wanted it cut shorter.
He started cutting but after a few minutes threw his arms up into the air and said, “I don’t just cut hair shorter.” He disappeared into the storage room and returned with a container of what could only be described as glue. He slopped it on to my hair, picked up the phone and started talking.
“Is it supposed to burn?” I asked, about twenty minutes later. He waved me off. Finally, he removed the goop. I yelped as the glue type substance had dried. “It’s for straightening your hair,” he said, "stop whining."
The stylist started cutting. He stopped again. “Close your eyes.” I closed my eyes. He took the clippers and shaved my eyebrows. He didn’t shave them completely off but pretty close. To this day, one is hairier than the other. Apparently, it brought out my eyes. I felt violated.
Another time I went to one of those salons in a shopping mall that has about twenty chairs. An old Italian man with a big smile welcomed me. He cut my hair with scissors and told me stories from the old country. A friend of his bought a new car and placed a note on the dash: ‘Dear Car Thieves: Please do not steal my car. If you’re going to take the stereo, that’s fine, but please leave my car.’ The friend came out one day to find his stereo on the street where the car was parked.
The hair stylist got increasingly angry as we discussed some violent incidents that were in the headlines. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a man with a pair of scissors close to my head getting angry. What if I say the wrong thing? At least, in the end, I survived with my eyebrows firmly intact.
One of those old fashioned barbershops opened along College Street. The name says it all: Blood and Bandages. Sounded risky but I live on the edge. I sat down in a chair. Next to me was a large fellow with many tattoos, creative facial hair and a t-shirt with exploding skulls on it. He looked like a biker. I smiled, he glared.
The owner was a young guy and we had a pleasant conversation. Even the biker loosened up. There was no blood and we didn’t need any bandages. Actually, it was the best haircut I had in a long time.
I’m sure everyone has had an experience sitting in a hair salon chair. If you have the time, please share.