Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Bane of My Existence

In the early 1980s, Lucille Ball was interviewed by reporter from Rolling Stone Magazine. There are two things, among many, about the interview that stuck with me. Lucille Ball would not let them photograph her, and when asked about her hair, she said, “It is the bane of my existence.”

I can totally identify. For as long as I can remember, I have had a battle with my hair. I come from a family of good hair on one side and not so good on the other. They say you inherit your hair traits from your mother’s side. If her father was bald, you will be bald. If her hair turned gray, yours will turn gray. Whatever.

On my father’s side, they have thick, wavy hair, gorgeous hair, which may turn prematurely gray, but looks great until their last breath. On my mother’s side, they either style the few hairs they have in a bouffant or wear a wig.

My hair is thin, semi-curly, dry, and unmanageable. Before I discovered mousse and gel, I always looked like a dirty Q-tip. My hair has never been fashionable. I could never wear it in any style that was longer than an inch and look stylish. I always threatened myself that I would shave it all off.

In the early 1990s, when I lived in Florida, my friend Farrah went through chemotherapy. In solidarity with her, I shaved my head. I never felt so free in my life. My hair never looked better ... then it grew back.

For the most part, I decided to keep it short and quit trying to make it look like something it wasn’t. I even managed to find a stylist who could cut it every two weeks exactly as I wanted, and here is where my dilemma remains today.

When you have good hair, you can use any shampoo and product and pretty much look presentable at all times. When you have bad hair, you first must find someone who knows how to cut it, and then find products that tame your mane. You must also hope your stylist sticks around for a few years!

Now, I have been to salons, barbers, beauty schools and every hair styling place in between. In high school and college, I went to Jan Mar Beauty School for a $3 haircut. The owner knew me from my job at Baskin Robbins, so she would come over and cut my hair showing one of the students how to do it. For that price, I never complained, although she would cut it very short. But with the dry look, my hair was very manageable at that length.

I decided to let my hair grow a little longer when I taught school to be in style with the big hair of the 1980s. But, I should have known better. No matter who cut my hair, I was back to being a dirty Q-tip.

I did find the first person since the owner of Jan Mar who could cut my hair. She was a beautician at Danny’s Hair Loft, and she was fantastic. Then, I discovered mousse and volumizer. I may have looked as if I was wearing a black fuzzy football helmet, but my hair did stay in place. Unfortunately, my new hair dresser moved to Germany, and I was back to trying to find someone who could cut my horrible hair.

I had little to no luck. Just when I would find someone, he or she would move. I was spending a fortune and no matter who cut it, I looked awful.

In Florida, it took four years to find the stylist, mentioned above, who could cut it perfectly after the shaving of my head and the decision to keep it short. He worked in a Cuban-owned shop. The owner had Dairy Queen hair – you know the type, all whipped up and dyed platinum blonde. She would sit at the front desk with her Maltese in her pocket book. Rumor has it her bags were packed and ready in the back of the shop, while she waited for Castro to die, so she could return to Havana and reclaim the land her family lost in the revolution. Come to think of it, she was always holding her car keys. I guess she wanted to be the first to return.

Then, I moved to DC, and I was back to square one.

Over the years, I have alternated between barbers and hairdressers, and I have found barbers to be better at cutting my hair. But, that has not stopped me from trying the occasional stylist. I am an optimist, and I am convinced there is a stylist who can cut this wiry mess, allowing me to let my hair grow longer than an inch.

There is an expression in Florida that goes like this: “He’s got a big ass charging those prices,” which is usually followed by: “This is ridiculous.”

You use that expression when someone just starts a business and charges as much as someone with twenty years’ experience. For example, a guy graduates from beauty school and on his first job charges $40 for a haircut. “He’s got a big ass charging me $40! This is ridiculous.” See how it works.

That is what I ran into. A salon opened next to my gym in what was originally a gallery. I thought I would give them a try. They charged $55 a haircut. I knew I was crazy, since I could get five barber cuts for that price, but I wanted to give them a chance, and perhaps I would let my hair grow out and be somewhat stylish … or at least contemporary.

I don’t know how, but I managed to get the only straight stylist in a gay-owned shop. I am also the guy who ends up with the unsexy handymen and plumbers. My friend Ed always ends up with porn stars. Life is not fair. However, my jobs get done right the first time, and his leave a mess … think about it.

So, there I was being styled by this pierced, tattooed straight guy, fresh out of beauty school, and the first thing he says is, “I have to fix what your last stylist did.” That to me is the equivalent of a contractor walking into your house and saying, “Uh oh.” Translated: “This is going to cost you.”

I said, “Don’t tell me that. Just cut me hair the way I asked you.” He cut my hair and put in enough product to make it waterproof for a season. However, one washing, and my hair never looked right again. You see, that is the sign of a bad haircut. It may look good when you leave, but if you cannot get it to look right again, don’t go back.

I then spent almost ten years trying to find the right barber. No more $55 haircuts for me. And seriously, when did it get so expensive to get a bad haircut?

I finally found a women barber in a gangland barbershop in Mount Pleasant. Sure the MS-13 guys were always in there getting their buzz cuts with their names trimmed into the back of their heads, so you would know who got capped that night. But, she did a good job, and getting my hair cut there gave me street cred. God knows I needed street cred.

Then I moved to Rockville. After one bad barber, I found a Vietnamese barber, named Nick. When I first walked into his shop, there was no one there, so I walked out and asked one of the business owners in the strip mall if he was any good. They assured me he was, and they were right. Curiously, his shop was always empty.

When I moved to Jessup, I tried out a barber near the grocery store. I left the shop looking as if I were headed for the electric chair.

After that, I found myself driving the Beltway back and forth to Rockville for a $10 haircut every three weeks. If you do not live here, I cannot begin to tell you how miserable driving on the Beltway can be at any hour of any day.

It was time for me to “move my life” to Jessup. I could not keep going back to Rockville for haircuts and doctors and veterinary visits and car repairs, etc.. I went online and found the barbershop Nick had mentioned when I told him why I kept coming back, and they had great reviews.

As luck would have it, they are Vietnamese owned and staffed as well. In my politically incorrect defense, Nick suggested I look for a Vietnamese owned shop, and he did mention this one. Is it racist to be happy when you discover a certain ethnic group owns a business? I mean I wouldn’t buy Chinese food from a restaurant owned by Irving Greenberg? Then again …

A female barber named Sue Anne cut my hair and did a perfect job, and it was only $9! I tipped her $5. As it turns out, she usually does not work Fridays, but the owner was out that day, so she took his place. God was looking out for me that day. Yes, God has nothing better to do than help me find a good barber, which reminds me of an old joke.

A man goes to his barber before flying to Italy to meet the Pope. The barber gives him the full treatment, including what he, the barber, considers his best haircut ever.

When the man returns, the barber asks what the Pope said to him. The man says, “I kneeled before him, he put his hand on my head and asked, ‘Where did you get that lousy haircut?’”

One more tidbit. I no longer use mousse or volumizer. I have since discovered hair gel, and I buy it in five-pound jars. I use more than Pauly-D on Jersey Shore!

This week, Esmeralda tries a new veterinarian in our continuing efforts to become Jessupized.

If you like what you just read, join my email list, follow me, share me with your friends, tell Andy Cohen I need my own reality show!  

No comments:

Post a Comment