If you’ve read my blog as far back as 2017, you’ll know I haven’t had the best of luck when it comes to getting my hair cut. Most notoriously was the disastrous haircut that spawned memorable lines like “…raking through my hair with the ferocity of a recently scorned girlfriend shredding her ex-boyfriend’s letter jacket” and “budget haircuts, like back-alley lobotomies, should be avoided at all costs.” If you can’t tell from reading those dramatic gems, I desperately hoped my terrible haircutting experiences were over. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
When I moved back to Western New York, I knew that I had to give up Alisha, the most incredible hairdresser I had ever met. I would have fronted the cost for her to transfer from St. Petersburg to Rochester if I could have, but after some thought, I realized that wouldn’t be very doable. Armed with this regretful knowledge, I began the traumatizing process of scouring Google reviews to find a barbershop in my new city. And after searching for quite some time, I settled on one that was the right mix of well-reviewed and not-too-expensive.
On the day of the haircut, I left work feeling the nervous energy I assume one must feel on their way to a blind date. These butterflies intensified when I arrived at the address listed on Google Maps and saw what looked like a tattoo parlor instead of a barbershop. I checked and re-checked Google, but the address was correct. There was a part of me that wanted to throw my car in drive and leave, but my hair was beginning to resemble Bob Ross’ which was a look I didn’t want to keep while scrambling to find a less intense establishment. So being the ever positive Pollyanna I occasionally aspire to be, I reasoned that a benefit of this shop could be the option to get inked after getting a trim.
I opened the door adorned with a sign showing a grinning skeleton clutching two straight edge razors and walked into the garishly lit shop. At this point, I expected a Kat Von D lookalike to check me in at the counter, so I was caught off guard when it turned out to be a smiling woman with no visible tattoos. This made me feel somewhat better, and I made my way over to the sitting area to wait for the barber I’d randomly selected on their website.
During my time on the bench (FYI, I will be using that exact line if I ever write about playing football), I was able to take in more of the shop’s details. There were posters emblazoned with sexist remarks about women, speakers blaring screamo music, and patrons loudly (and a little too excitedly) talking about a recent gang shooting in the downtown area. Through all of this, I sat looking like a small-town accountant since I had come straight from work. I did my best to adopt a tough expression to fit in, but my “I’m selling homeschool curriculums” attire contrasted a little too sharply with the surrounding customers.
My name was finally called, and I headed over to the chair of Damien, the guy who would be cutting my hair. The tattoo sleeves on his arms were a fun collage of weapons and menacing phrases, so I did my best to keep my eyes trained on the floor as I explained what I would like for my haircut. This was a sharp contrast to my boisterous barbershop conversations with Alisha in Florida, and it made me miss those memorable times spent laughing and talking excessively about Dolly Parton.
I don’t think Damien would know who Dolly was if she walked into the shop and requested a hard part, so we ended up spending our time talking about his band. Unfortunately, there’s only so much one can discuss the allure of band life with a surly barber, so once our talk about the crossover thrash band he was a part of ran its course, the conversation died. This led me to spend the rest of the haircut doing my best not to make eye contact with the nearby customer who had three teardrops tattooed on his face.
Ultimately, the haircut turned out to be decent, but after paying my bill and walking into the cold night air, I decided that I shouldn’t have to worry about being shanked when getting my hair cut. So I will be searching for a new place to get next month’s cut, and while there could be some literary benefit found in adding a third part to this horrible haircut experience series, I am just hoping for a relaxing time at my next barbershop appointment.