Dean Martin Cuts My HairPosted: September 3, 2013
Between the appearance regulations my career imposed and some of my follicles choosing to no longer participate, I don’t have a lot of hair. It stays fairly short; I aim to get it cut every three weeks or so.
For the same reasons, there is nothing elaborate about my hair. Nothing extreme about the style. I don’t keep gels to put in it. I dump shampoo on my hair in the shower, I show it a towel and a brush and I’m ready to roll.
Hair like mine doesn’t go to a salon for grooming. It goes to any of the various places whose name ends in the word “Clips”. Nothing fancy.
Get In Line And Stay In Line
The Clips places seem to trouble keeping employees. I don’t know if there is any individual who has cut my hair more than three times in my adult life. My hair cuts are brief encounters with strangers who have scissors. I put that protective thing on that keeps hair off my shirt and we do what we do.
Three weeks ago it was time for a haircut. I walked in and a woman put my name in the computer so I’d be in line. I sat down to wait. It was pretty obvious that I was the entire line. The woman returned and asked if I wanted anyone in particular. I didn’t. I just wanted a hair cut. Not a relationship, just the act. She went toward the back.
Another person came up to the counter, looked at the computer and called out my name as if there were five other customers there. I raised my hand. I was invited back to a chair.
The person assigned to cut my hair was a middle-aged Asian man. He had a print out of how the last person cut my hair, drawn from the Clips Word Headquarters Data System. When he asked me a question about the print out, I didn’t understand him, so I just said yes.
I began to consider coming back another time. I had just answered a question I didn’t understand, asked by a barber whose haircut made me think of Dean Martin. I don’t like to think of Dean Martin, especially when the thought is “I wonder if he asked me if I wanted to look like Dean Martin”. I knew that I did not.
But it was too late. He’d already put the protective thing on me. Everyone knows that once that plastic cover is hung around your neck you are bound by law to get a haircut. That sealed my fate. Then it got scarier. Yes, it got scarier than looking like a 1950’s crooner.
I’m used to people who cut my hair having a pair of scissors or two, a small electric clipper with some colorful plastic guides and a few combs. My stylist that day, we’ll call him Dean, had about eight pairs of scissors. His electric clipper was huge. Hedge trimmer huge. There were no plastic guides for the hedge trimmer. It had interchangeable blade sets. They were bare metal. I wasn’t sure what was going to keep the blades from cutting me.
When he clicked them on for a test, the clippers shook the chair I was in. I’m pretty sure that those hedge clippers were manufactured in a decommissioned World War II defense factory, back when Dean (the singer, not the hair guy) was popular.
Dean said something about the weather, I said something about it being hot.
Then, it started. Those clippers hit my head, brown and gray hair started falling at an alarming rate. The hedge trimmer made an ungodly sound against my skull. It was like what I imagine I’d hear if the Eyewitness News copter crashed into my head. Now and again, Dean would say something to me, but I never knew what he said. His accent was hard to understand over the racket of the blades.
Dean moved my head around by bumping it with the heel of his hand. Sometimes he mixed it up by using the wrist of his clipper hand.
When he switched from clippers to scissors, the hair cut was just as wild. The sound was like the sound track of Edward Scissorhands. There were at least three different pair of scissors involved in this trim. I couldn’t see the difference in the scissors, but it seemed important to Dean that he switch up his equipment as he addressed the different areas of my head. Who was I to question? I was just along for the ride this time.
Then, it ended. Dean whipped the cover thing off my neck. “Touch it” he said. I said “thanks, I don’t need to touch it”. He pointed at the side of my head. “Touch it. I cut it this way, then that way so it is smooth. Smooth, yes?” I felt better about the question and touched my head.
I’m going to get a hair cut today, at the same place. Like I said, there is a lot of turnover at the Clips place. But maybe, just maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll once again come out smooth, yes.