Is it too much to ask to get a simple haircut nowadays?
When I was a young fella, before I met Minnie and had kids and started havin’ to worry about things like gas money and groceries, I had a regular barber I went to for years and years. Mike the Barber was this big bald guy that grew up with my old man and he had a little barber shop in the front part of his house, and he lived out in the back. I guess he hurt himself in the mine one time and couldn’t do a lot of liftin’ or anything, so he took up bein’ a barber.
Now, we grew up kind of dirt poor, so how in the hell could we afford to go to a barber for haircuts, you’re probably thinkin’. But my old man sold bootleg coal for years and half the stuff he bought for the family, he’d pay for it with a bucket of coal. So when it was time to go for a haircut, me and my brother Allan and the ol’ man would haul a few buckets of coal onto Mike the Barber’s back step and then go in for our haircuts.
And in those days, barbershops were like secret clubs just for men. Mike was a big Maple Leafs fan and he had all kinds of pictures of players up – old black and white guys we didn’t even know about yet. And when the old man was gettin’ his haircut first, and him and Mike were talkin’ about their days in the mine together, me and Allan would go all around the shop and look at the hockey pictures and stuff.
Half the time there’d be two or three other guys sittin’ around, tellin’ dirty jokes and huntin’ stories.
But of course, I got older and Minnie and the kids came along, and she started cuttin’ my hair in the kitchen so we could save a few bucks to buy diapers and that. Little Bill probably wasn’t even in school yet when I heard Mike the Barber was sick, and it wasn’t long after that he passed away and that was the end of his barbershop.
Anyway, Minnie just kept cuttin’ my hair, right up until just before Christmas. She gave me a haircut in the kitchen and I looked at myself in the toaster.
Minnie’s blessed with many talents, but cuttin’ hair ain’t one of them. And while I laughed at a chunk missin’ on the side of my head, she got some fierce at me and swore that was the last haircut she’d ever give me.
Now, it’s two months later and my hair is right long, so I asked her to cut it again.
But Minnie don’t forget nothin’ and she told me to fly to frig out the door and find somewhere to get it cut myself.
So off I go. I’m drivin’ around, and I’m thinkin’ to myself – hey, this might not be too bad. I was thinkin’ I’d walk into a barbershop just like old Mike the Barber’s, with hockey pictures and ticket stubs on the wall. Maybe I could even break out my joke about the club-footed ballerina, I thought to myself.
So I find a barbershop. Now, I won’t say which one, but it said “barbershop” and it had the red, white and blue striped poll on the sign and everything.
I walked in and there’s the barber, cuttin’ some guy’s hair in the chair by the door. I nodded hello to him and was just about to take a seat and wait when I got ambushed.
Out of nowhere comes the last thing I thought I’d see in a barbershop – a woman.
Hop right up here, she says, and for a minute I don’t know what to do.
But I got in the chair. And right away I knew I was done for. She had about a hundred different scissors, combs, attachments, bottles, sprays, and god knows what else, all laid out. I tried to tell her I was just lookin’ for a simple haircut, but she started yappin’ before I could say anything.
Walkin’ in there, the only small talk I expected was about how much snow we got and whether the Leafs will make the playoffs. That’s it.
But in the next fifteen minutes, I heard all about her three kids, and the middle child’s diarrhea, her sister’s colitis, and this thing she seen on Oprah about how to get rid of bunions. I almost grabbed a pair of scissors and cut off one of my fingers just to see if she’d notice long enough to stop talkin’.
And I don’t know if she got trouble walkin’ or what, but she more or less stood in the same spot on my right side the whole time she was cuttin’ my hair. So if she had to do somethin’ on the left side, she just reached over and pressed herself all against me. You’d think maybe I wouldn’t mind that, but holy cripes that just makes your skin crawl when you don’t want nothin’ to do with it.
There! she says, when she was finished. And I was so distracted by everything she was sayin’ and doin’ I didn’t even notice what she done to my head.
I got home and went straight upstairs so Minnie wouldn’t see my weird spiky haircut stuck out every which way. It was like somebody grabbed one of them skateboard kids ya see in town, ripped his hair off and put it on my head.
I look in the mirror and I hear Minnie yell up to me, laughin’ her arse off – Is that gel in your hair?
Next time I think I’ll just take the weed whacker to it myself.