I stopped into Great Clips last week for a haircut and ordered the usual. I always go to the same location, so they know me. Or, rather I should say, they know my phone number.
When they punch those digits into the register, they access a vast database about all the hundreds of haircuts I’ve had over the years. A composite of recent trends emerges after several moments of high-powered computing, and the stylist is given specs that will transform my head into the shape I prefer. A “four,” I think they call it.
My idea of a good haircut is usually synonymous with a fast haircut. I want to be in and out of the chair as quickly as possible, so having essentially pre-ordered what I want tends to expedite the process greatly. Just in case there’s been some mix-up, though — in case Chinese hackers have broken through the Great Clips firewall and scrambled my data so I’m down as a “seven” or a “fourteen” or, God forbid, a “Ryan Seacrest” — I’ll offer some extra guidance as I settle into the chair.
“Same basic style as I have now, just shorter,” I’ll say. “But not too short. Just a trim, really.”
The stylist made some chit-chat as she worked, and I grunted the standard responses. She observed that I had particularly wavy hair, adding that most women “would kill” for the kind of natural curls and body that my greying locks exhibit. I was taken aback for a moment, considering all the sharp instruments she had at her disposal and how close those instruments were to my carotid artery. I suppressed a few seconds of panic before convincing myself she was just making conversation.
In no time at all, we were done. She gave me a hand mirror and twirled me around in the chair so I could admire the fine handwork she’d done on the back of my neck. “Looks good,” I said, eager to move out of the shop and on with my life. I paid, pocketed my free Dum-Dum lollipop and exited into the parking lot.
Just before getting into my car, a gust of wind blew and I felt a curious pull on the top left of my scalp. I settled into the driver’s seat and took a quick glance in the rear-view mirror. Now, I know that objects in mirror are closer (and therefore larger) than they appear, but I didn’t think that could explain what was happening on top of my head. A giant wayward strand of hair was jutting high above my scalp where only a few moments before there had been neatly organized hair.
I had been given a combover cut! Rather than looking like the hip young host of “American Idol,” I had become Conrad Bain, star of the 1970s sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes.”
My “wavy” hair was more like a tsunami of errant tresses. I had the male equivalent of the Snooki poof. The windy spring that I had looked forward to throughout the harsh winter was now going to be a nightmare of chaos as I struggled to maintain some kind of order upstairs.
Like most men my age, I do have some thinning in the area where male pattern baldness tends to occur among the fifty-something set. But it’s not as bad as a lot of guys have. So I’ve tended to swallow my pride and live with the unintended consequences that medical science has wrought by extending our lifespan beyond the 40 or so years our ancestors survived.
As soon as I realized what had happened, I should’ve marched right back into that Great Clips and demanded satisfaction. I have never, ever asked for the combover; in fact, I’ve specifically mentioned on other visits that I didn’t want it. I’d rather have a spot of old-growth stubble down the center of my skull than affect a more youthful ‘do that in reality isn’t fooling anybody.
But instead, I’ve resolved to live with my new handicap until my next styling a month or so down the road. I’d rather try to figure a way to regain control of a windblown combover than face having to spend another five minutes in the barber’s chair.
So far, I’m considering wrapping my scalp in Saran Wrap, applying heavy daubs of partially hydrogenated whale blubber, or placing my right hand on top of my head in a constant signalling that an ineligible receiver is downfield.
Anything to gain control over this awful combover.