I got a good haircut. I know…stop the presses.
However, it is a big deal because it is the first good haircut I have gotten since I evacuated New York.
I have worn my hair the same way for the last 30 years: short on the sides, long enough on top to lay flat, shoved to the side with no part. The beauty of it is that after stepping out of the shower, a quick squeegee with the palm of my hand is all it takes to put things in order. Same deal when I take my hat off. No comb necessary. No gel or mousse needed.
Mr. C, my barber of thirty years ago suggested it, I think, to save himself from wrestling with my unruly locks, which I wore long at the time. His shop was located on Lexington Avenue about a block from office. I used to get there a half hour before my appointment to catch up on all the fine articles in his enormous stack of Penthouse and Swank magazines.
Unfortunately, he died about twenty years ago leaving me bereft and barberless. After a long string of bad haircuts, I landed in Ana’s chair at Super Cuts. She is from Guiana and may be the only stylist in Manhattan who was eaten by an alligator as a child. I take that back. There probably are many others. She was sitting by the canal near her house when a gator grabbed her leg and pulled her in. Lucky for my hair and I, her dad leaped in and pulled her from its clutches.
She automated my haircut by using her electric shears to do the sides and back and only using her scissors on top. I was either #2 or #3 on her shears depending on the time of year: shorter in summer, longer in winter. I took a haircut with her right before I left New York. By the way, my Dad used to always say he “took” a haircut. Of course, I would always say “who did you take it from?”
Anyway, I hate getting a haircut. It stems from my childhood when my dad would take me to his barber, Mike, who was either inept or a sadist. He would chop my ears with the scissors and scratch the back of my neck with whatever else he was using. When he went to work with his straight razor on the back of my neck, I held my breath in terror. When he was finished mauling me, he would dust me off and say to Dad: “Looks like Jerry has been playing with the kitty cat again. He’s all scratched up.” Of course, my dad knew we didn’t have a cat, but he also knew he was next, so he didn’t say anything. He didn’t do much better. For some reason, his haircut always came out lopsided so that he looked like he was walking on the side of a hill. Sometimes he had sideburns, sometimes not. On one occasion, he had a sideburn on one side and not on the other. His hair was cut short on one side and left long on the other, so that he looked like a completely different person depending on which way he was facing you.
My hair has always been unruly. My mother tried everything known to the science of the time to tame it. She drowned it in Vitalis and slicked it down with Brylcream. Take my word; a little dab didn’t do me. Finally, she found a substance that resembled human nasal excretion in color and consistency. Even my very ladylike mother said "let's get some snot on your hair" as she liberally applied it to my head each morning. This stuff dried as hard, stiff and impervious as varnish. My knitted cap came off my head molded in the shape of my hair, dashing pompadour and all.
It stayed where it was put. All except the cowlick on the back of my head which used to erupt each morning during arithmetic. I could feel it snapping to attention but knew there was nothing I could do to restrain it once it had gained its freedom.
I gave up on my hair as soon as I had anything to say about the matter and wore a crew cut throughout my high school and college years. In the sixties and early seventies, I succumbed to the long hair trend. This was an unfortunate choice for me as the many photos of the era prove. My daughter once asked after looking at our wedding pictures: “Dad, would it have killed you to get a haircut for your own wedding?” I had to explain that it was the style. However, I must admit that it was also a style that played into my distaste for visiting the barber regularly. It was never that long anyway because as soon as it reached the top of my ears it would curl upward in what I think the ladies refer to as a flip. The flip going horizontal and the cowlicks going vertical made my outsize head resemble one of the early mobiles of Alexander Calder: very sculptural,but a few too many moving parts.
The Mr. C fixed everything with the haircut and it has served me very well even as my hair has thinned and grayed.
However, none of the stylists and barbers within a ten mile radius of Califon could duplicate it. One even managed to reactivate my long dormant cowlick much to Kathie’s amusement who commented when it sprang up in all its glory: “My God, I haven’t seen that in years.”
This week I decided to try the shop in Hackettstown. The barber, a brassy blonde woman about my age, listened patiently as I went though my explanations of shears settings, etc. Then she looked at me and said as though belaboring the obvious: “You want a George Clooney.” I could not summon a mental picture of what Clooney’s hair looked like. She produced a photo and sure enough he had my haircut. He pushes his forward rather than to the side, but other than that it’s the same deal.
I was stunned and mortified. All these years’ people have been thinking that I have been trying to look like George Clooney. In my head I could hear their whispered comments: “Look at that old guying trying to look like Clooney. It’s going to take more than a haircut to pull that off.”
Clooney, you bastard, you have everything why do you have to have my haircut?
When you see him on Oprah and he mentions that he took a haircut, you will know who he took it from.