Sometimes I astound myself with the enormity of my self-indulgence. Without dicing existential tomatoes, I'm well-aware that there's a world outside of myself, a world rife with violence and pain and injustice and heartache, but none of it has seemed all that interesting, important or significant since the haircut, a cataclysm on scale with the floods in Pakistan.
Okay, I saw you grimace. Hyperbole only goes so far until it becomes insensitivity. But, goddamn it, this is my hair and I'm vain!
A week and three days past, in the Year of Our Lord, 2010, I walked into Great Clips with my son, both of us looking to clean up our respective mops in anticipation of the first of school. My hair was on the longish-side---think Jackson Browne circa 1975---and I didn't want to look like a small-time pot-dealer with my new classes starting.
Allow me to digress. Despite my inexorable vanity, I have been going to hair-shearing factories with banal generic monikers like SuperCuts, Great Cuts, Great Clips, The Pube Hut, etc. for almost a decade and have received the same essential cut every time. I call it "The Men's Regular," a clip on the sides and back and some snips off the top.
Here's the thing: the whole idea of trying to explain what I truly want my hair to look like makes me anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable. When I envision my hair, I see myself with Tom Brady's face, so everything looks great in theory. I always have a plan going in, but when I sit down in the chair, and the woman (the reason men go places like SuperCuts is the outside chance that a hot chick will cut our hair and accidentally brush her boob against our head) asks me what I want, I freeze. My words become jumbled.
It was no different at Great Clips, a week and three days ago, when the woman cutting my hair, a young girl with a sexy Spanish-accent, asked me what I wanted to do with my hair.
"Um, just a regular haircut," I said, frazzled. "You know, clean it up."
My little Latin clipper seemed zealous, exuberant about severing my Jackson Browne and making me, a 35 year-old high school English teacher, look hip. But, apparently, she needed more directives. "Clean it up" wasn't going to cut it (funny, me pun).
Before I could protest, a great mound of grayish-black hair was sheared from the top of my head, and from there, it became a blood-letting. I knew for the next month of my life I'd be handling the ubiquitous "Did you get a haircut" question, trailed by the "What a douche" whispers as the questioner walked away.
And, as you can see, my haircut looks douchey. Molded with hair gel, the front is flirting with faux-hawk, but there's no other option. So I'm in douche purgatory as it grows out. But I've learned my lesson, and my days at The Pube Hut are over. My wife has suggested her hairstylist, and while it might seem gay or metro, it beats the hell out of this.
There is much tragedy in this world of ours. In the words of Joseph Conrad, it's the "horror." And I'm yet another causality, another stooge for this big stupid stage.
On another note: my story "My Husband, Houdini" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the editor of Bananafish. Thank you, Daniel. I'm humbled and honored.