An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Second Jackass Moment? (Dumbass Things I've Done Lately Week: Day 4)

I guess this might not really qualify as a Dumbass Thing I've Done Lately, unless getting my haircut at Wal-Mart qualifies as a dumbass thing to do in your book.

In the book Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, the character who's ostensibly the romantic hero of the book is a fellow named Newton Pulsifer. Newton an odd man out sort of guy, technology is beyond him, chaos follows in his wake and he cannot get a proper haircut to save his life. The text of that section of the book describes how throughout his life he had frequently gone to hair-cutting establishments armed with pictures of how he wanted his hair to look only to have it turn out wildly different due to his head's refusal to take stylish cuts. In the end, he resigned himself to the fact that the only thing he could really expect from getting a haircut was shorter hair.

I have felt like that quite a bit in life myself. In fact, the last time I received what I would term a really great haircut was in March of 2005 and it was given to me at Wal-Mart.

Before you scoff too much, I've consistently received better haircuts at Wal-Mart's Smart-Style haircuttery than at nearly any other place I've been to. And this can be said for not only my local Wally World, but also ones in towns I've previously lived in.

The woman who gave me that last really great haircut, let's call her Melissa, was just incredible. She seemed to psychically intuit exactly how my hair would look its best, with very little instruction from me, and gave me that exact cut. I was so amazed by it that I resolved at that moment to return to Melissa and only Melissa for the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, one of Smart-Style's major drawbacks is that its a first-come-first-served sort of place. You can't make appointments and can't really ask for individual stylists, unless you want to keep letting people go ahead of you until the one you want comes up in the draw. So the next time I returned to see Melissa, I was saddled instead with the girl at the station directly next to Melissa's. And that girl, let's call her Miss Twique, was actively on drugs. I'm not kidding. She was higher than 93 octane and I was fortunate to escape with hair at all.

Of course, at first, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and tried to imagine she was just a really spacy person with very red eyes and, just to continue the automotive metaphor, a habit of talking at 150 mph. My wife the medical professional walked up mid-way through the cut, exchanged four words with Miss Twique and mouthed "She's ON something" to me. Shortly after this, both Melissa and Miss Twique ceased to work there and I've not seen either of them again.

Still, it was with great hope that I returned to Smart-Style last week with a mop of hair in need of a lopping. I was seated immediately by a stylist I'd not seen there before. She was a middle-aged woman who seemed very happy but only in a High On Life sort of way. Soon the subject of what I wanted done with my hair was broached.

"Do you usually get a clipper cut? Probably about a number 2 guard?" the hairstylist asked.

Now, I do a #2 clipper in warmer weather, but thought, what the heck, let it be a little shorter. After all, it's been pushing 60 degrees around these parts lately. So I told her a #2 blended into a #3 on the sides and back would be fine.

"What about the top?" she asked. "Just a trim?"

"Yeah. Just a trim," I said. "But I want to get rid of all this," I added pointing to the excessively shaggy widow's peak in the front that had been driving me insane.

The lady started a-clippin', making small talk all the while. I could feel that #2 clipper getting higher and higher up on the back of my head as she talked. Then she switched it out to a #3 and I felt a little better. That is, until she ran it clear across the top rear portion of my cranium. A very large chunk of my hair slid down my shoulder and I realized that I had now committed to another VERY short haircut.

As has been chronicled here before, I'm unfortunately no stranger to the odd self-inflicted shaver shark attack. And while I have actually been contemplating another VERY short haircut in recent months, I've not had the sac to actually go through with one. It's the sort of thing that, for me at least, has to occur unintentionally and then become accepted.

Well, I got my wish. When she finished with me, it was ever-so-slightly longer than the skull cap look of four years ago, and barely that. Still, I thought it looked pretty good.

Of course, as soon as I left Wally World, the temperature plummeted, snow began to fall and I now keep snuggy knit hats on my person at all times.

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