a haircut buzzed

I got a haircut today and came away buzzed.

I walked into Bishop's on 21st and Flanders because I needed a haircut. I have probably needed one for sometime, haven't had one since I left Albuquerque in November, so I was getting a little shaggy. I have been Skywalker before. I almost went that far. But now it's gone.

"There," my friend told me the other day, "they serve beer at that place when you get your hair cut." We hadn't seen each other in a month and she had just mentioned that I had a fro going.

Getting your hair cut is a big decision. For some it's hard to know when it's the right time. I knew for sometime but wasn't sure where to go in Portland. I haven't lived here long. And I think you need a connection to a place or a person before you commit. I won't let just anyone that close to me.

As of late I have been shaving my head fairly short. Doing it myself, or letting a friend or family member clip it. How can you fuck up a buzz cut? This was mainly to save money, but I also did it because it's hot in the desert. When I had money, and when I had let my hair grow long enough for a worthwhile haircut in Albuquerque, I would got to Eldorado Barber Shop in Eldorado Square. It's a man's barber shop and always a good cut-- using clippers, of course. I started going back there -- went there for flat tops when I was ten or so -- after my neighborhood barber, Mr. Polaco, died. His son, Vince, had always been at his side and tried to keep it going, but it was never the same after the old man died. There was nothing like getting a haircut from Mr. Polaco. He would always ask about your non-existent redheaded girlfriend. And always go for the peanut butter and jelly sandwich under your shirt with the vacuum. He was part of the neighborhood and a childhood icon.

This day, however, I wasn't in Albuquerque. Even if he was alive I couldn't visit Mr. Polaco. I couldn't see Des or the guys at Eldorado. But I had a haircut on my mind, so I went where they serve beer and where they cut hair, Bishop's Barber Shop.

I was a little worried at first that the barbers would be drinking. That would be kind of fun, but it wouldn't be a good haircut. Luckily, I worry about a lot of things that turn out to be fictitious. When I saw the Miller light in the window I knew I was at the right place. I read the sign out front: buzz cut, $10, style, $20. I didn't want a buzz -- I could do that. I didn't think I was going to a beer-selling barber for a style either. So I went in and didn't mention either of these key words hoping for the best. I sit. I turn and read the sign: sign in. I stand and sign in. I put my name down and am asked if I'd like a drink.

"...What do you have?" I respond.

"Beer or water."


And since I'm in Oregon, "I.D."

No options. Just beer. That's fine. I love the High Life. I wait around the counter for a second wondering if I was supposed to pay. I'm ignored and take that as a sign that it's either free or on my tab.

Pssshhh ... Ahhhhh.

I hate waiting for a haircut. Get it over with, right? But, if you have to wait, and it sucks when you do, do it with a beer, my friend. I can wait anywhere with a cold beer. I'm flipping through some magazines: Tikkun, a bi-monthly, that featured an article on Phish's last show, not very good; and, I looked at Esquire, in it: George Clooney tells us what he's learned. My name was called, loudly over the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack. I was a few glugs through my beer and was feeling good about my barber. She was attractive and led me to her chair. I sat and took a drink.

"What are you going for?" she asked.

"Uhh...," I knew this was coming, and this was my best answer.

"How much do you want cut off?"

"Use your discretion."

Funny look.

"I guess I'm trying to keep some length, but would like to clean it up." That's the best answer I could give any barber.

She plays with the hair over my ears. I was going for Peter Fonda in Easy Rider but wasn't there. "Off of the ears?" she aked.

"Yes." Do men get haircuts and leave with hair still over their ears? That doesn't sound worth it.
"I'll cut it and give it some texture."

Texture? It's hair. "That sounds good." I didn't know what that sounded like.

I took off my glasses and this woman -- I didn't catch her name -- started cutting, and I wanted to marry her. She used scissors. No clippers. This was going to be, as a barber in Beacon Hill, Boston once told me, a scalp carving. She knew what she was doing and I felt relaxed. Maybe it was the beer buzz, buut I was feeling good about this one. She snipped. I sat. When she took a break, I sipped. I got comfortable and spoke up.

"You know you're my first," I said. "I mean, this is my first Portland haircut." As if this meant anything to her.

"Where are you from?"

"New Mexico."

"Why did you come here."

"For a haircut," kidding. "Ahhh, change, I guess."

"I've never been to New Mexico, but I think I'd rather be there than here."

I don't get it. "It's bright there," was all I had.

She snipped; I sipped.

She leans in front of me -- cleavage, quick peak -- "Close your eyes." Hair was brushed from my forhead with a gentle brisk.

Snip. Sip. And she was done. It looked good.

"It looks good," I told her.

She wasn't convinced. "I'm going to dry it and put some product in it."

"O.K." Whatever.

She starts blow drying my hair. I don't think I've ever had done that.

"Do you ever dry your hair."

"Not really."

"First time for everything."

I don't get it. She goes to get something.

"This is..." more cleavage at eye level ... and she says something else that I didn't catch.

She rubs what looks like Turtle Wax in my hair and gives me a faux hawk.

"I like doing this," she says with her hands in my hair "It makes the blonde shiny and brings out the texture."

Texture? I was starting to get it.

"Is it O.K. or do you want me to put it down? It'll probably come down anyway."

"Oh no .... It's O.K."

"You'll pay her," she says leading me. I polish off the High Life and put it somewhere.

"A short cut," she tells the woman who gave me the beer, and who is also running the computer register.

Short cut? That wasn't on the board.

"This is what I used (in your hair)," she tried to sell me. "You're not a hair product guy, are you?"

"No, not really," she walks to her station to sweep up my hair.

"Nineteen dollars."

Not a buzz, not a style. Both? I guess that deserves a tip. Three? Sure. I hand it to her, making eye contact and while avoiding the cleavage peak. "Thank you," we both say at the same time.


Anonymous said...

You mean there wasn't beer and cleavage when Brian did your hair? I guess that's why it was free.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or is everyone getting their hair cut these days?

Anonymous said...

I'm-a insulted-ah. You left out one of your most influential and important-ah barbers from your story. I mean, have you seen my handiwork? Magnifeeek!