There’s a joke about Supercuts, but I can’t remember it. Something about how there’s two kinds of haircuts you can get. I don’t remember what they were. I don’t even remember if the joke was funny.
Mind is really going. Oh well. Good riddance, actually.
I looked down at the magazines by the bench. Here’s one. A Year In Review Edition.
What could be more boring? Canned media serving up one more helping of stuff they’ve staled to death all year. Still, every magazine has to feature one. What are you going to tell me about? Who won the World Series? An election? Tell me about a school shooting? Storms? War?
I kind of know about those events. I’ve managed to stay conscious enough this year to realize what was going on around me. Hoo-fucking-ray for me. No, seriously. That’s big for me.
Let’s see. Here’s a feature on The Movers and Shakers of 2012. Riveting stuff. I can’t believe I didn’t make it this year. I tossed the magazine aside and watched the barber chick cut a bald guy’s hair. She was taking forever. One would think cutting an old bald guy’s hair would be a three minute turn around, but you would be wrong.
Old bald guys actually take longer. I noticed that most barbers don’t want to just pass some clippers over the head and slap their neck with a towel. You could do that with a young dude, keeping his head shaved, but not with old bald dudes. There’s a lot of Kabuki theater involved. The barber does a lot of pretend clipping with scissors. Comb, comb, comb, air-clip air-clip. Comb, comb, comb, air-clip air-clip.
It used to drive me crazy. Well, crazier. Clearly, they were trying to make the old guy feel like he was getting his money’s worth. By spending fifteen minutes in the chair. Fifteen minutes of my valuable time.
One afternoon, after my guy gave a rather extensive performance, I had to bring it up. He tied off the bib and asked me what size blade.
“Two,” I told him.
I waited for him to start cutting.
“So I noticed you have to do a lot of pretend hair-cutting with old bald dudes. Is that so they don’t feel like they got gypped?”
“Well…it’s actually more than that,” he said, “For a lot of these guys, getting a haircut is the only human contact they get. So I want to take my time with them.”
I looked at dude. Did I hear him right? He didn’t strike me as someone who would concern himself. Straight guy, shaved head, tattooed neck, ring-through-the-nose regular dude. Not the touchy-feely, sensitive New Age type. He was into choppers and the LA Kings. It surprised me he would reach out like that. I sat there trying to digest this anomaly.
“That’s kind of sad, when you think about it.”
“Yeah, no shit,” he said, “They already come from a generation that didn’t touch much. Except maybe for sex.”
“I think sometimes not even then.”
“Ha…yeah…Hard to pull off, but possible, I guess.”
“All I know is that as they get older, there’s even less of that. So what does that leave them? An awkward hug now and then?”
“Hmm. And maybe a pat-down at the airport.”
“Yeah. Exactly. So that leaves me.”
He was right. What really impressed me was that this guy would care enough to do his small bit. Holding their neck, combing their hair, massaging their scalp. A hand on the shoulder. Shit. I felt like a heel for bitching about it.
Once again, something revealed it’s true nature–something that had bugged me before–and now made me feel like a dick for resenting it. I hate when that happens. And trust me, it happens a lot. Not surprising. My knee-jerk interpretations of events are nothing but some slapped together immediate impressions stuck in the glue of some unexamined prejudices. On a foundation of underlying fear.
My summary is usually worth the amount of time it took to come up with it. Zero flat.
Beth called over to me. “I’m almost done.”
“I’m good,” I told her, “Take your time.”
I go to Beth now. As cool as that other barber was, he never got the hang of wrangling my cowlicks. Not like Beth. She knows my cowlicks. She knows how to tame those beasts.
I looked at the pile of magazines. None of them interested me. I remembered how in jail I would’ve killed for a scrap of anything to read. When I got locked up in Redondo Beach jail, they had a huge stack in the cell. I couldn’t believe my luck. Good stuff too. Rolling Stone, Spin, Outdoor, and some hot rod mags with sexy chicks. It was the quietest, cleanest jail I’ve ever visited. Dark enough to sleep. Light enough to read. Two pillows, two blankets, and the whole cell to myself. I could clock some hours in a set-up like that.
Of course, I got bailed out fast that time. It figures. Thanks anyway, Spike. Good looking out.
Beth was trimming the old guy’s ear hairs. Man, that is so gross. Of course, not getting that done is even more gross. If I didn’t cut that shit every other day, I’d have grey beards growing out of my ear holes. That’s the most humbling thing about middle age. Seeing stuff on yourself that even grosses you out. A bouquet of nose hairs. An ugly toe nail. Bushy eyebrows that could earn you a bandstand seat at a Soviet Military parade.
Just getting gnarlier and gnarlier. Until the only time anybody touches you is to shave your neck or attach heart monitors to your chest.
Alright, let’s not think about that.
Beth looks cute today. Dig the knee-high leather boots. Single mother from Georgia. She works hard. Her boy means everything to her. I don’t think she’s dating. Might not have the time. I’m sure it’s logistically difficult for a single mom. At least for one that cares about her kid.
That’s too bad. I wish she’d find someone. Some guy that takes a real liking to her little boy, and does all kinds of father shit with him.
Fishing. Playing catch. Camping out. Mayberry father kind of shit. Not guilt-tripping you about what a fuck-up you’ve become kind of shit.
I looked back at the pile of magazines. Kanye and Kim. Very important. Can’t not take them away with you…when reviewing the year. A year’s worth of some of the wildest shit imaginable, and I need to remember those two. Two of the most forgettable creatures that ever used up air. Remember them and push out something vital. Like remembering to pay the cable bill.
I would rather pray to the ancestors of some Borneo headhunters than think about them.
Not to get all Max Von Sydow, but with the bullshit we fill our heads with as a society, it’s a wonder we can find our asses. Is Snooky pregnant? Is Hoda leaving? Whatever happened to Chachi? Will Bristol ever dance again? Does Bonk-Bonk love Vagella? Will Thog call off the wedding? Will Yuddy Van Rence be killed off in the season finale?
Will Regis rise from the dead?
These are not questions. These are pork rinds and Tab. To stuff ourselves with while waiting to die. Anything to avoid having to really live. And wonder about important stuff.
Check this out. We watch Reality TV. Think about that. We watch…Reality TV. I have not mastered Reality, but I’ve seen a lot of it on television.
I get it though. Confession time. When Lori was gone one night, I watched two hours worth of Full Throttle Saloon. There was some stuff I didn’t want to think about, so I zoned out on a bunch of white trash running a biker bar in Sturgis. (And making more money than God doing it.) Well, I just got sucked in. It was the owner, the dude with the mangy blonde dreads and no chin that I couldn’t stop staring at. He just freaked me out.
Oh sure, there’s also lots of power-drinking miscreants, sexy scanties dancing around greased-pig poles, and sporadic outbreaks of drunken violence. It’s basically lifestyle porn for domesticated hell-raisers. So I lost myself in it for a while. I let my nagging concerns circle the airport, burning up fuel. Instead of looking at what I didn’t want to look at, I tried to count how many shots Fajita took, and wondered if Jessie ever banged Angie. If Michael watched.
Finally, I snapped off the idiot box and faced my demons. Might as well. They didn’t seem to be antsy to leave anytime soon. I’ve learned you can’t out-wait a demon. And you’ll never outrun them.
The best way to confront them is in a very stern paternal way. “Look you wicked little fuckers, I made you! You are the products of my tortured mind and I appreciate what you’re trying to show me. Now beat it. Daddy’s got this.”
It seems to work. Losing myself in other people’s drama doesn’t do it. I’ve tried. Even tried to lose myself in my own.
Beth undid the old guy’s bib. That’s right. A little powder on the neck. Rub it in. I bet he digs that more than if some tattooed dude did it. Or maybe not. He gets up to pay. I stay seated. I wait until she finishes with him. Then I let her clean up a bit, and wait until she says she’s ready for me. I used to hop up right away, because I was so pissed at having to wait. Now I try not to sweat the barber like that. I wait until they’re ready.
I also cut my own ear hairs before I go. So nobody else has to deal with them.
There’s my year in review. A bunch of small improvements. That hopefully add up. It’s too early to tell.
I put my soda on her counter and sat down.
“Do you want a number two or three today?”
“Number two. Cut it close, Beth. I feel like I’m losing my edge.”