The Last Hair Bender

Having hair obliges us to have a haircut. From the moment we wailed in the delivery room, we are subject to hair maintenance. As usual, your mileage may vary (ymmv). Boys and girls, men and women will have different due dates for a hair trim. Whether as kids or adults, ours tastes and hair preferences will diverge. The same applies to our trips to the barber. Some men prefer their hair very short to save money. These misers think it’s twice a year or it’s extortion. Ex-US President Obama had a haircut every week, similar to a schoolmate. Hair is a very mundane investment, being our ‘crowning glory.’ By all means, most haired people who could afford it would spend money on a haircut.  

Zeitgeist

The zeitgeist plays a role in hairstyles. I remember when the Brazilian football player Ronaldo sported a unique ‘do, even Asian kids would copy his look. Moreover, FRIENDS star Jen Aniston was known for ‘The Rachel’ cut though she herself wasn’t a fan of the hairdo. Dreadlocks and afros are common, especially in pro sports. These days, a shorter cut with little hair at the back has become commonplace. I remember as a senior in school, we had this military-style drills in school. Our teacher, Mr Elepante, asked me to join him at the front. ‘This is the ideal haircut,’ he told the class. ‘You should all emulate Topher’s look.’ I spoke to a couple of my batchmates and they said they intend to duplicate my style.

Back in secondary school, I applied a lot of hair gel. I couldn’t leave the house without going through the routine. I did not feel like myself without the hair gel. I recall watching Edward Scissorhands with my class a couple of times. The Tim Burton movie featured real-life couple Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder. In the movie, the oddball Edward, refuses to have a haircut. He instead does topiary for his neighbours and uses his Scissorhands to give them makeovers. He also romances Kim Boggs (Ryder). After watching the film, Victor – one of my classmates – said ‘Edward Scissor-dick.’

One time while going to the hairdresser here, I saw this kiddo and his finished noggin.

‘What do you think?’

‘Your hair’s still quite long’, I almost interjected.

Thorough and fulfilling

No offence, but barbers back home do a much thorough job than those here in Sydney. Once I settled in, I knew I would be fulfilled. These stylists have constant practice and are not afraid of making it short. They value every customer and do not hasten their work at the expense of their current customer. For the job they do, their pricing is very reasonable. While waiting, I usually browsed their newspaper or flicked through my magazine. Sometimes, I spotted people I know among the clientele. Like in the US, barbershops are the place to be. Hot topics like Manny Pacquaio and politics are talking points. There are even television sets where you can watch some blockbusters.

Oz style

Here in Oz, a crew cut is cheaper than a style cut. The latter involves using a clipper, scissors, and razor. A wash and a beard trim are added extras. I used to go for number four on top and three at the sides. Meanwhile, early on in the pandemic, with wholesale restrictions, the salons were empty. Social distancing has been practiced but spare a thought for the smaller shops. Language barriers has seen things lost in translation. For instance, I asked for them to make the back short. I ended up with a crew cut. The same applies with food, where I was asked if I want chilli. When I answered, ‘a bit’, our sandwiches were flaming hot. My chiropractor, Jeff, goes with the usual, a sixty-dollar service from one of his customers. He complimented my hairdo. I told him that I was paying fifteen dollars, up from ten bucks.  

Importance of hair

Hair is such an important accessory that some people would buy toupees just to score some style points. This is not just true for those with no hair, but even with those who are balding or have bald patches. World leaders are not exempt. On the high side, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has some nice locks, and so does French President Emanuel Macron. Meanwhile, Kim Jong-Un of North Korea headlines the bad side. There’s no doubt that he’s had atrocious hairdos through the years. The problem lies in his do’s incongruity with his image. With his trims, he ends up looking even bigger. His baggy outfits also don’t help his cause. He needs to change his stylist.

A kid’s ‘do

When I was little, I did not look forward to my barber trips. I wasn’t a fan of close-cropped hair but that’s what happened. Even in high school, I did not like my hairdos but understood that my shock of hair grew too quickly. My hair also tends to grow quickly on the sides. Observing people, most of them just don’t remove the excess. Shaving off the surplus has become a habit, as going with the flow would look untidy. I remember as a fifth grader I had a classmate who showed up with a full blond coiffure. Turns out he was only after some highlights but ended up mirroring Brad Pitt’s locks. This was a blatant violation of school rules and he had to go back and find an antidote. At least his initial ‘do got some compliments, even from a few teachers.  

My kind of barber

I admire barbers who are artful, who are not afraid to gamble if it is in their client’s best interest. I like it when they give a round illusion. Having a flat cut can leave you feeling discontent. I likewise salute those hairdressers who are unencumbered by time and who live to satisfy their patrons. These kinds are rare. More demand means more cash, often at the detriment of a good job. The routine might be the same. Sitting on a chair facing a mirror, putting on a poncho, receiving a clipper. Then, they use a pair of scissors, use some water, and a razor. Finally, the finishing touches are applied, with powder and a brush, maybe some gel. A good barber makes you feel at ease and impels you to come back. A great hairdresser does all that, and makes you feel at home.

 

Barbershops need not be just the parts but could be ‘the sum of the parts.’ It sure doesn’t just end with some shearing or razoring. They could be agorae or your window to the world. When I was in school, people used to say, ‘You look like a human’, after someone got a haircut. I had a friend in uni who had a short cut that made his face look a few times bigger. I sniggered a little though I could not admit that his hair was the reason. Looking back, I was sure my hairstyle wasn’t much different. For your info, short cuts generally won’t work on bigger people. Conversely, long cuts make thinner people even scrawnier. Know your number.  

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