I got a haircut today. I love getting haircuts. I get to sit in a comfortable chair while I pay someone--a servant, essentially--to spruce me up. I love most every part of the haircut process. The electric clippers massage my scalp. The methodical combing-and-scissoring fine-tunes, eliminating unruly hair strands. Then a bare razor trims the back of the hair and the sideburns. (That might be the best part.)
Of course, every barber (or stylist, depending on where one goes) is unique and has a unique routine. I used to get my hair cut by a short, homely-looking man who had a shop near where I grew up. He cut my hair from when I was a baby, almost. He was really friendly. His handling of the various tools was second nature. He was quick and efficient, yet he didn't rush. He applied barely enough force to make contact with the scalp, so that it felt like therapy. He also used a vacuum/blower that felt incredibly good when it sucked the loose hair from my head. In later years, he hardly used the vacuum part and usually went straight to the blower. I never asked him why he made that change in habit.
He's been dead for several years now. He had a gift. I've been searching ever since for a good place to get a haircut. I've found several places that give a decent one. But I can't find that special place.
Places like Cost Cutters or Great Clips aren't the same. It's more business-like--and it needs to be. But the stylists rush; they are a little too rough sometimes, pressing too hard on the scalp. Other barbers have their own little quirks. Some have scissors that are too dull, and they pull the hair. (Ouch!) And what is up with those weird scissors that have comb-like teeth on one of the blades? Those always feel strange.
Several months ago I went to try out a new barber. He was a nice guy. He wanted to talk a lot about hunting and fishing, though--two subjects I know almost nothing about and couldn't care much less. But the vast majority of barbers and stylists feel the need to break the silence by more than just the snipping of the scissors, so they force some conversation. I wish they wouldn't feel the need to do that. I love to just sit there and enjoy the experience.
Anyway, this hunting-and-fishing barber also mentioned some of his other customers, whom I happened to know personally. He bragged on them for being regular customers and always directing more business his way. He said something like, "A lot of people only say that they'll come back, but they actually do." I got the impression that he was a little resentful toward anyone who didn't say, while he sat in his chair, "Yes, I will be back here next month." And would like a guilt trip with your haircut today, sir?
He talked about several other things, like some people's inability to accurately describe what they meant by "an inch." He talked up a storm, which didn't let me focus on relaxing. So I started going back to Cost Cutters. At a place like that, a young woman will usually give the haircut. Since Cost Cutters is more like a "style salon," it attracts women, but also, by employing pretty, young women--or at least young women they think are pretty--they try to attract young guys. I imagine this helps diversify their clientele.
If anyone doesn't believe me that salon employees are supposed to attract men, then I should mention SportClips. SportClips specializes in haircuts for men. The stores are sports-themed, with many sports magazines, large-screen televisions with either games or sports news on them, and . . . young, female stylists. They are almost universally women in their late teens and early 20s--a very precise demographic.
I went to SportClips once, and I've not been back. I'm still searching for that special haircut. But I know I'm very picky. I want my haircut to be done a certain way. Will I ever find it? I'm not sure.