Kitzmann Column: Trusting your barber: The death defying act of getting a haircut
Not long ago -- about 10 days I would imagine -- I finally succumbed to my mother's wishes and received a haircut. And though I generally avoid the idea of people attacking a part of me (even if it is just my hair) with scissors, it had lately occurred to me that my Freak Flag was flying perhaps a bit too proudly.
True, I am not in all rights a conservative, and uphold the notions of peace, love, and goodwill toward my fellow man. I was, however, beginning to get tired of being disregarded by my elders as part of a wild, rebellious counterculture, which is constantly fabricating conspiracies and seeking to turn America into anarchy.
The irony of this is, of course, the fact that those same elders were, when they were younger and more fruitful in the way of hair production, most likely once part of their own long-haired, anti-establishment crowd. Only back then they called them hippies, and from what I understand they could get pretty wild -- much crazier, in fact, than our current batch of youth.
So, on a sunshiny day last week, I arrived at the corner barbershop and, seeing that there was a vacancy, slipped into an empty, heavily padded chair. Immediately after doing this, a grinning barber draped a black cape over my shirt and wrapped a length of toilet paper tightly around my neck.
When he asked how I would like my hair cut, I simply replied with a "the usual, please" and watched as he procured, with a menacing look in his eyes (at least it looked so to me) a shimmering pair of metal scissors. They appeared to be extremely sharp, and were at least six inches long, large enough, I dare say, to make quick work of somebody's ear.
I quietly began to observe my surroundings, and cringed when he laid down the initial blow, which detached a small chunk of dark-brown hair and sent it floating dreamily towards the wooden floor. As he continued to chop and slice at my hair, I kept my mind busy by silently listening to the conversations that were going on in the corner barbershop.
I will not detail these exchanges in this column, but will say this: I have learned more about motorcycles and deer hunting now by simply visiting the barbershop than I would otherwise have learned in my entire life.
As for myself, I usually remain quiet during my haircut sessions, and when I do speak, which is seldom, I keep the conversation rather dull and non-argumentative, remembering that it is never a good idea to quarrel with a man wielding scissors, particularly when the scissors are long and sharp and the man is holding them a scant two inches from your ear.
So, not wanting to anger the barber by a political discussion or such, but yet not wishing to appear unfriendly, I desperately wracked my mind for potential conversation material. I finally decided to utilize an old standby and bring up the weather.
True, it was desperate, but it was safe, and besides, everyone loves to talk about the weather, particularly when it is as interesting as ours has been in recent days. We had a good chat, the barber and I, and much to my relief and amazement, I managed to make this conversation last until the conclusion of my haircut.
As an unspoken signal that he was finished, the barber spun my chair in a half-circle so I was facing the mirror, stood back, and asked me what I thought of what I would be looking like for the next month and a half. I told him that I was well pleased, well pleased indeed.
Assuming that he was finished with me, I got up from the padded chair, handed the man who cut my hair a balled-up wad of cash that I had produced from my front pocket, and bid the barber, the barbershop and all of the people in it farewell.
It has occurred to me that the act of getting a haircut is a good lesson in trust. In spite of the fact that our friendly neighborhood barber could, if he wished, kill us with his huge scissors, or even worse, cut our hair badly and make us unattractive for a month, we place ourselves at his mercy and trust, trust that he will cut our hair well and avoid injuring us in the process.
Oh, and happy spring! You might just want to start thinking about that summer haircut. Mine is taken care of.
Nathan Kitzmann is a freshman and is homeschooled.