Saturday, May 05, 2007

Off the Top

My trips to the barber are always a fine mix of inevitable desperation and forlorn dread. For some reason, my barber can never take off just the right amount of hair. I don't doubt that he knows what that right amount is, because every time I get a haircut from him, he takes off exactly 3/4 inch more than that amount. Without fail.

"How would you like it cut, today?"
"About this much, I really don't want it too short, don't want anyone to know I was here," I'd often say, trying to strike the right tone between normal conversation and the demanding decree a customer is entitled to.

"Alright, so just a haircut," he'd say.

"Well, yeah, but not too short."

"I know what you mean," he'd wink, "a haircut."

This was not some secret Masonic communication indicating that I in fact wanted my head shaved bald. I wanted a reasonable haircut--one that people would look at and say "Oh, looks nice!" rather than "Oh! You got a haircut!"

This exchange has been going on for almost four years, from the time I first arrived at college. Now, with graduation in two weeks, I face the task of once again visiting the barber. We'll likely reminisce about the few hours we spent together in that little barbershop. We'll talk of all the weather patterns we observed, the elections we saw determined, and the incremental price increase he "was sorry" to impose upon his regular customers as the last few years went by. I'll enjoy all of this, I'm sure; I just hope I don't have to, well, get a haircut.