Ever since I was a youngin’ I’ve always tried to keep my thumb on what the cool kids were up to (note: using “cool kids” was never one of those things). This either-you’re-in-or-you’re-out mentality, which began when I ignored my kindergarten teacher by following my classmate Kendrick’s lead to continue playing well after playtime had ended (I needed a friend and he, too, was a rebel, used words like “damn” and “hell,” and was much cooler then than I ever will be in this lifetime), has stuck to the fibers of my brain.
So while October Break is a time for students to catch up on sleep, enjoy some time off from classes and ignore any and all assigned reading and papers, I’m always inappropriately and unnecessarily excited to participate in one of the more ritualistic, almost spiritual experiences of break: haircuts. If you don’t get a haircut over break then what was the point? Loser. Ha.
Yes, the mid-semester break is filled with the buzzing of clippers and snipping of scissors as they hack away at mounds of hair that for the last six weeks have presumably been washed with Natty Light and Crystal Palace Vodka, conditioned with the tears and drool that accompany all-nighters, and dried by a moldy, unwashed towel, because you probably haven’t done laundry since the first week of classes. If you think about it, the six week mark is the perfect time to get a haircut. It allows our winter coats the opportunity to grow into something that looks more like a choice and less like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
Originally I had planned to get my haircut the first weekend of break, before I embarked on my car and bus ride back to Ohio. Much to my chagrin, however, the barbershop on Raymond Avenue was closed for the entire weekend, leaving me haircutless. I had two options: Find another barbershop in Poughkeepsie or wait until I was back home. I would have chosen option number one, but I have this weird thing when it comes to going to barbershops I’ve never been to before—I don’t. It took me two years to muster up the courage to enter the one on Raymond Avenue and I only went because if I had waited any longer my facial hair and my head hair would have merged into one mass of fur; I would have looked like something a cat yaks up on the carpet. Or worse, a Furbee. Had it been winter I probably could have passed it off as a new type of face hat.
So I waited until I returned back to the good old Midwest—an awful decision. Partly because it was a horrible experience, mainly because it was in the Midwest.
You see, it had been a whopping seven months since I had stepped foot in my house last. I kind of forgot that my “usual” barber wasn’t my “usual” because he was good, but because I have been going to him since I was old enough to realize bald fades weren’t a good look for me but young enough not to tell my mommy I didn’t like them. Such is life. In recent years this barber has taken on a new approach to running a business. I haven’t exactly figured out what his tactic is, but I’m pretty sure only being open for three days out of the year is one of them (none of those days fell within the break).
With seemingly no options left, I went to the only other barber shop in Cleveland that I knew. I arrived about ten minutes before noon and sat there until 1:30 p.m. In that time the barber managed to finish up with two guys, let some old man from off the street jump in front of two of us, all the while yapping on his phone and talking for an interesting, if not frightening amount of time about finding a place that delivers lasagna (I don’t think he ever found one).
At some point I left the barbershop and went to a dental appointment, found out that I need a root canal and a crown, got a cleaning and was out the door in forty minutes. When I returned to the barbershop, a crowd had formed around the lone barber. Still, I was determined. My rough look was fine when I was traveling, but I needed this haircut. I couldn’t be the only person on campus not to get a haircut. What would my one friend and two acquaintances think? But in the hour it took to watch the barber shave strange designs into a customer’s hair, I decided that life is indeed too short. So I left and went to Great Clips for a haircut.
I guess I’ll never be cool.