Inside Doug's Head

I am not a number, I am… What's that stuff they make glue out of? I'm that. Forever swirling, forwards and upwards, but always sticky. Sometimes, a little sad.

The ordeal of relocating to another city is always a chaotic experience that creates holes in the fabric of one’s personal services umbrella. In addition to finding a new place to live, you will likely also need to find a new bank, a new insurance agent, a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer, and an accountant. It would be great if all of these services could be provided by a single versatile person, but at least I do not have to report in to a new parole officer, or find a new clean and well lighted place to buy pornography. Oh, Hemingway, is there any prose you can’t make better?

One of my overlooked challenges of moving to another city has been finding a suitable person to cut my hair. Managing the logistics and complexity of identifying a human being worthy enough for the responsibility, finding someone who can satisfy my grooming requirements, is an undertaking of overwhelming significance. Since 2003 I have been getting my haircut at the same place, by the same person, in exactly the same way, and for this extended period of dedicated heroism I thank you, Teri Watts.

Maybe it’s a hang-up of mine, but I only allow women to cut my hair. There is something disturbing about having another man run his fingers through my hair follicles for any reason. It just creeps me the hell out. Making a blind appointment with a hairdresser over the phone is as unpredictable as making a blind date through an escort service (so I have been told—no first-hand experience, here) in that you never know what you might get.

With androgynous names like Bobbie, Chris, Dana, Billie, and Pat it is difficult to determine what gender you are being set up with, not without asking. Even when I first went to see Teri I was filled with the fear and trepidation that my appointment would be with a sissy boy in lime green short-shorts and a bright pink halter top. Specifying your preferred sex of hair stylist when you initially make the appointment, especially for men, always comes out sounding awkward.  There is no clever way to couch the interrogative, “My appointment is with Alex? Umm, what, ah, gender would this person be? Because, ah, yeah, I would prefer someone of the, ah, female variety, so could I, ah, possibly get, umm, one of those?” that won’t make you seem like a deviant weirdo, possibly a sex offender with a fetish for hairdressers.

Perhaps I am being fussy, but I do not like getting any of my hairs cut. I would rather go to a dentist for a root canal than get a haircut. A dentist wears gloves and a mask (to hide their true identity), and they never ask you how you want your teeth cleaned. Why do hairdressers have to ask me how I want my hair cut? I am not an expert, so how should I know what would make me look my best? My usual response is a slow and deadpan shorter and with scissors. I would like you to cut my hair so that it looks like it does now, except shorter, and preferably using scissors. Could you possibly cut my hair to make it longer? No? So, let’s go with shorter. But that isn’t good enough for them. They need to know details like, how much shorter? Above the ears? Are you keeping the mullet? Where would like me to scar you? And thus begins the unpleasantness.

Dentists also know that having a conversation with a person who is upside down in a chair with their mouth pried wide open is not a reasonable activity to engage in. You are an ideal candidate for raping, maybe, but not for conversations. I would prefer to not participate in mindless banter with someone who can not hear me and has to stop paying attention to the task at hand just to do the awkward, “What was that?” thing. You try having a proper conversation with someone who is standing behind you and holding a pair of scissors. The noise holes and the listening holes are pointed in the wrong directions relative to one another, so it doesn’t work very well. Just accept it, I can’t hear you and you can’t hear me, so stop talking and get to work already. Besides, we have nothing in common and I am a pretty horrible person, so trust me, you won’t want to talk to me, anyway.

Dentists, the good ones at least, clean all of their tools between patients, and not just the ones they have multiples of. Hairdressers store their combs in a jar filled with a blue liquid. The jar is plainly marked disinfectant, but, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the liquid it holds is nothing more than food coloring and water. They make a big production of taking a comb out of the jar and whipping it through the air to shake off the excess blue stuff, but then they wipe their scissors on a towel to ‘clean’ them, and they never wash their hands between customers. The really icky part is when they dust me off using a feculent communal brush that has come in contact with every lice-ridden, greasy and diseased representative from the great unwashed of humanity. I have never had a dentist offer me a drink of water from the shared office coffee mug.

Dentists use Novocain so you can’t feel what they are doing to you until several hours after it has been done and you are far away from them. I wish hairdressers would do the same. I do not enjoy feeling every tug and pull of their medieval instruments yanking at my hair. Would it really be so difficult for them to inject my skull full of nerve deadening chemicals prior to undertaking their work? I almost always bite my cheek after having my mouth frozen by a dentist. With a frozen head I would probably wear hats that were too small, or over tighten the bicycle helmet I wear at night when I am sleeping.

After their work is done, a hairdresser will show me the back of my head with a mirror, smile and do the, “How does that look?” thing. Quite frankly, it looks like the back of my head in reverse, and I don’t really care. I am concerned about what people think of me when I enter a room, not when I leave; when I leave, it is already too late. Imagine someone saying to a coworker, “After first meeting that guy I thought, Wow! What a jerk. Then, I saw the back of his head as he was leaving and I realized what a wonderful person he must be.” Or, the other way around: “Well, he seemed nice and sincere enough, but then I caught a glimpse of his head from the back, and I instantly realized he molests young, helpless children on the weekends. I am so glad that he stooped down to pick up his blood covered axe when he did, otherwise I would have gone on thinking he was a perfect gentleman.”

As long as there are no new labels or stickers back there that read Insert Brain or I’m with stupid, I am perfectly happy with not looking.

Lastly, dentists do not expect that you will give them a tip for making your gums bleed. Hairdressers seem to expect one for making me itchy. What is the going rate for that service?

Me need hairs cut.

I usually get a haircut once a year, whether I need one or not. With the move and everything, my schedule is a little off this year, and I am starting to get somewhat bushy, especially around the eyebrow area.

As Luciano Pavarotti once complained, “The problem with barbers in North America is that they refuse to trim the hairs in your nose.”

Murder, you say?

I only recently learned that if you don’t want everyone to think you are completely crazy, don’t be finishing all of your conversations with, murder, you say? Now, where did that come from?

3 thoughts on “Of Haircuts and Dentists

  1. Jose Daniel Rodriguez says:

    My barber is male. Well, it’s a barber, so off course he’s male. But well the point is that I went through something similar when I moved to the city. I have the worst of luck when it comes to barbers or hairdressers. By now I must have tried (to get my hair cut) with way too many, never being satisfied. Yet, about 2 months ago, I ran into this guy, 82 years old, who really did the best job in 24 years of risking my head with unknown barbers. He’s been cutting hair for 62 years now, in the same old place Harlem (Not so perilous area of Harlem). Recently, he’s come out in the New York Times and some TV news channels. This was due to the fact that a Chinese guy bought the building where he had had the barber shop for 61 years, and kicked him out. He ended up renting a place on the same block and now he’s back in business.

    I guarantee you though, that if you decided to give Claudio a chance, you will still feel itchy. But at least, he won’t put the mirror behind your back and ask you the “How does that look” question. Also, he charges only about 70% of the average haircut in the city, or at least in the upper east side.

  2. Hey Dr. Godsoe !! You’re the best !! WOOOOOT

  3. Teri Watts says:

    Love it Doug, you are my hero, I can picture you in my head actually saying this. I miss your view on life. Teri Watts ” Doug’s former hairstylist”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: