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Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated haircuts.
Part of it was growing up in the 60s, when long hair was seen as a positive act of rebellion. I was the son of a Navy Chief Petty Officer who insisted on taking me to the barbershop every two weeks whether I wanted to or not at the Amphibious base in Norfolk, and I hated it.
Navy barbers, I’ve learned, know only one way to cut hair: as much as possible. I once made the bold decision to ask the barber not to cut very much of my hair, and was greeted at the car by a parent who sent me right back in. Telling a Navy barber your Mom said “you didn’t cut enough the first time” is like saying “just shave my head.”
Then you’d go to school, and as is the male adolescent tradition, you would be needled unmercifully by your classmates.
As a result, I’ve never been a fan of haircuts. When the barber asks how I want my hair cut, I always say “make it look like you HAVEN’T cut my hair.” If my wife says “I think you need a haircut” I always wait another two weeks. I may be in my 60s, but when it comes to haircuts, I’m still an 11-year-old with post traumatic haircut syndrome from my days at Little Creek Elementary.
But not today.
Turns out when I wished everybody at the Royal Barber Shop on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I had no idea I would not be seeing them again until the last day of May, 2020. I had been thinking the last week of February it was time for another haircut, but postponed going for a couple of weeks.
Then everything was shut down from the pandemic.
Looking in the mirror each day went from “it’s not too bad” to seeing famous people staring back at me. One day it was Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead. Another day it was Doc Brown from the movie Back To The Future. Finally I got to the point where for the first time in my life, I actually yearned for a haircut.
My wife offered multiple times to cut my hair. At times she even insisted that she could do a wonderful job. But during my life, I’ve learned to not allow her to get close to my head with sharp instruments. I’ve also learned not to play with bumblebees. Getting stung by either is not fun.
So Friday, when the shutdown was lifted and Phase 1 began in Loudoun County, I was on the phone first thing in the morning. My barbershop would open for the first time on Sunday and I was fortunate enough to make an appointment with Mr. Kim to rescue me from my shaggy and scruffy appearance.
I’m not sure it could have been any safer. People had to wait outside on the sidewalk. There were 6 chairs, and only 4 were used, leaving a lot of space between each of us. The barbers all had multiple pairs of gloves and multiple masks on. All the patrons had to wear a mask, and when the cutting involved the areas around your ears, you unlooped the mask and held it over your face with your hands.
Once done, I thanked Mr. Kim, left a big tip to try to compensate for the months I didn’t get a chance to come in, then walked to my car where I immediately washed my hands with Purell and then took my mask off. If a germ figured out a way to get inside me after that routine, well, that germ EARNED it.
I now feel normal. I look in the mirror now and see me. Not Sam Elliott in Road House. Or Keith Richards. Or Albert Einstein. Or even Moses.
Just me. Which feels pretty daggone good 😊
my phone isn't magnetic like the games used to be to drag the metal filings to a hairstyle, but if I could -