There is nothing men fear more than getting a haircut
‘Do you want the back square or natural?’
Every two months, you will wake up and sigh as you spend too long fiddling with your hair in the mirror. Even after you’ve washed, dried, styled and tussled it a fifth time, it still isn’t right. You know you have to brave the barbers, but the dread when you see the red and white spinning swirl is like reversing through puberty. Facing the chop is the gauntlet of masculine anxiety.
What if they mess it up and you can’t face your friends for at least a week? What exactly are you supposed to say when they ask “so what is it you’re after?” Is it legit to take a photo of Adam Lallana in and ask for his haircut?
The wait seems endless. A stern nod from the host of Sweeney Todd’s carving at other unwitting punters is uneasy at the best of times, let alone when all of them are bald. You sit on the comfy leather sofas meant to console you but you dare not reach for The Sun. Instead you opt for Gentlemen’s Journal or GQ and flick through adverts for £400 shoes. Then comes your turn to cross the no mans land of dead hair, razor blade covers and human tears to the chair.
“What can I do for you sir?” I don’t fucking know mate, you’re the expert here.
“A bit off the top and the sides to a three or four.” They look at you, baffled.
“How much is a bit?”
“About an inch?”
Why an imperial measurement? And do you realise how long an inch is? Are you psychotic?
They get the picture and move swiftly on, tilting your head this way and that. But how long do you lean your head forward and when do you lift it back up? As you sit there with muscular hands washing your hair, you realise the squirt of shampoo and conditioner could be adding an extra fiver to this already Odyssean task you’ve put yourself through.
“Would you like a drink sir?” You’d love a beer to calm your nerves, but what if you ask and it’s a no. A cup of tea is what your Grandad would order, and you don’t want to look like a vegan asking for some juice. You politely decline, and your mouth grows drier and drier.
As they go about their business murdering any social credibility you once had, you can’t help but look at the pale ghost in the mirror and your Adam’s apple continuously gulping, confused at the scissors edged with sharp teeth that are meant to thin your hair. You assess the damage and it’s never quite clear if enough has been taken off, or even too much. You’ve got a date in three days, and right now you’re considering cancelling.
Just as you think it’s all over, out comes the cutthroat razor, pulled from a glass jug of translucent blue of acid. They latch on a fresh blade and you can feel the sweat dripping into your eye. Don’t move, then he definitely will cut you. You can’t feel the damage being done to the back of your neck until the sadistic bastard decides to slap scented oils all over your freshly ravaged skin.
As if this experience couldn’t feel anymore like a torture scene, a long metal rod with a wrap of cotton wool appears and he sets it on fire. With his gargantuan hand, the barber pushes your head to the side and whips the fiery weapon at your head, all the while you’re asking yourself why you put yourself through such an ordeal.
They show you the back of your hair, and all you can think is you’re surprised that’s what the back of your head looks like rather than admire your fresh lid.
“Would you like any product?” he asks, as you stare at the 25 different pots of wax, mousse and spray.
“Erm yeah some wax please?” you reply, knowing full well you’ll be ruining his design as soon as you’re out.
Do you leave a tip and how much? You’re not happy with the end result, but you feel like you should. Are you allowed to eat the chocolates? Stop looking in the mirror, they’ll think something is wrong. Just get out of there, get home and wash all the debris off your scalp, get a hairdryer and try to salvage your aesthetic. The coming days are hard, but you’ll grow into it.