#9: The Worst Haircut Of My Life
A traumatic run-in with the barber on 3rd street between Avenue C and B
July 13, 2017
I woke up today with a headache because my hair had grown so long that when I rolled out of bed it bunched up on top of my head to make me look like Marge Simpson. I was in desperate need of a haircut.
I ambled down to my local snippety-snipper a block from my apartment. I popped my head in the door and a tall bespectacled gentleman looked up from the foils he was intensely applying. “Yes what?” He asked. “Can I make an appointment?” I replied, apologetically. He replied in his thick, Eastern European accent, “Go. Next door. He halp you.”
I walked out the door, turned left, and found another glass door with an identical logo on it. I peered into the window to see another tall gentleman, but this one was far different.
For starters, he had very little hair. It had all receded to a small, elite squadron of scalp-pubes at the very back of his head. He wore a tight black t-shirt that didn’t completely cover his belly. His y-fronts poked up from his skinny jeans which he’d rolled up to make makeshift three-quarter length stylish leggings, showing off his bony ankles and Amazon-bought ‘leather’ loafers. (Ok, I also own the same loafers.)
He spun around from twiddling with his iPod nano, spotted me peering through the window, and gestured for me to come inside. I froze… I wanted to run, but he’d seen me. I gingerly pushed on the glass door causing a small bell to ring above my head.
“My nem Serge. Yes, You look for me?”
I said “Hi, Serge. I was looking to get a haircut, but if you’re busy I’ll come back another time.”
He scoffed, “Beesy! Who is beesy, not me, thassfersher!” Then he let out a huge belly laugh. “Seet. I cut you head.”
I sat. (So he could cut me head.)
Right off the bat I was very skeptical. He ran a comb through my unwashed, product-filled mane, yanking hairs out by the roots as he went. He held the comb like he was a baby learning how to get purchase on an object for the first time. It wasn’t allaying my very real fear that this man was not a real barber.
“What you want do? Yes you want short?”
I said “Just… ow… just a trim. A shorter -OW! -shorter version of this please.”
With that, he whipped out his buzzing trimmer which looked like it was made in the Soviet Union in the 70s. It had bits of bronze, corroded aluminum and a power cable that needed an adaptor to plug into the US outlet.
Despite my misgivings, I felt an odd kinship with him as an immigrant. We’re both trying to make a go of it here in these ol’ United States of America. Best give him the benefit of the doubt before I jump to any—
—Seconds before he put chainsaw to scalp, I stopped him and said, “Wait!”
He paused, confused.
I said, “Just one thing… please don’t touch the sideburns.”
He replied incredulously, “Oh, you don’t want sideburns do you?”
I said, “Yes. That’s why I have sideburns.”
“But if you shave off you look like me, yes? Look! I no haev sideburns!”
I said, “I’m ok with sideburns. Please don’t touch my sideburns.”
He then shaved off my sideburns.
My face went a shade of bright red. “What the F… what the.. “
I couldn’t even muster the word Fuck, I was so angry.
“Why did you do that?” I asked, calmly.
“Do waet?” he quizzically enquired, continuing to shave the sides of my head like I was about to ship off to my second tour of Afghanistan.
“You …shaved off my sideburns,” I said, incredulous.
“I no shave off, I just treem.” he shrugged.
I sat in a puddle of seething rage as he proceeded to completely transform my hairstyle into that of a backup singer for a Polish boy band. He didn’t shampoo it, let alone spray any water on it before taking giant chunks from my now oblong-shaped noggin.
“Can you please not trim it so close? Is that a number three?”
“Yeas, is three. Ver good.” he nodded with his eyes closed.
“I don’t want that… I just wanted a trim. Can you use scissors on the side?”
“I only just begin. You wait to see what look like in end.”
His Russian EDM played on his iPod as I sat in a silent rage for the rest of the haircut. I don’t know why I stayed. I should have got up the moment he shaved off my sideburns. I shouldn’t have even pushed open that glass door, but I did. That tiny bell ringing was the beginning of the end of me going outdoors without a hat.
Eventually, Serge piped up again, “Life ees bewteeeful.”
He paused. “Tras me. I know.”
Life, at this point for me, was not beautiful. Life had transformed into a living hell. I could imagine myself walking into an audition, handing the casting agent my headshot, and them looking at me going, “Whose headshot is this? -And what the fuck is wrong with your head?”
My eyes darted over the blue liquid sitting by the window sill. You know, the stuff they keep the combs in? I figured I could end it quickly with a few quick gulps of that without causing too much of a mess.
“This is Frank Sinatra!” Serge Boomed, as he paused in tableaux to listen intently to his iPod.
It was not Frank Sinatra.
It was Wham. The only song I recognised in a playlist of noises that sounded like a CD skipping in a Sony Discman. He stood still for a full minute as he listened, gestured to me, and nodded, saying “No? Yes? Sinatra?”
I nodded. Eyes wide, staring straight ahead. Every minute felt like an eon. I just wanted to get up, pay this fraud and get the hell out of this glass chamber of abuse. My fingers dug into the plastic chair as looked in the mirror and noticed a band-aid on his left calf. The cut underneath was bleeding pretty profusely, dribbling down into his cheap loafers as he danced around me, hacking wildly at whatever was left atop my skull.
I should have never trusted a man with no hair to cut my hair. Now I have no hair.
Just as I thought he was done, he took one last snip with the scissors and said, “Porfect.”
“Okay.” I said. “All done?”
He said, “You pay next door. This is where the art happen. Money happen there.”
I brushed away the hair he’d neglected to remove from around my face and ears, stood up, and walked out the door into the next room where the money happen.
I walked in and said, “Is this where I pay for what happened to me?”
The only person now in this room was a young blonde woman wearing a tight-fitting crop top and jean shorts nodding at me, grimacing.
She took my card and put it into a square reader that blinked red to indicate it hadn’t paired with the Bluetooth on her iPad.
A year passed while she figured out how to pair the reader to the tablet and process my payment, complete with Serge pricing.
Needless to say, Diary. I’m lucky it’s baseball season because I’m wearing my Yankees hat everywhere. Including the shower. And bed.