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A Hair Razing Tale by Wayne Saunders



A couple of months back, I was butchered by a hairdresser in a shopping mall. The episode occurred after my buddy Marty insulted me, proclaiming, in public, that my mismanaged mop was nothing but "hockey hair." Now in order to have hockey hair, you have to have a few follicles to begin with, preferably shorter and thinned out on top, with a little length at the back, circa 1974. Most of all, I suppose, your hair should look like you just took your helmet off, with the back wings flying.

Okay I needed a haircut, I admit. And since I'd had good luck in the past with the cheap places, it was off to the mall.

Perhaps I should have noticed something was up when I first walked in. The look I received from the two women in the hair salon can be best described as "eager," like they hadn't had a good victim all day.

Here are some choice flashbacks of the conversation from two months ago, with those who would have scalped me, if not for the fact that I myself finally intervened and stopped the insanity, just in the nick of time too:

"You want short?" she queried.
"Ummm, just thin it out," I replied.
"And the ear?"
"Just the top of the ear," I gestured.
"To the collar?" she asked.
"Well, yeah to the collar, take about an inch off the back," said I.

So much for communication. She was foreign, not that it matters, but there was the accent and communication thing. I found out she'd cut hair for 7 years. But where?

Then, suddenly, out comes the biggest shaver this side of Alberta, and it's halfway up my head, underneath the wave or wing or that part of my hockey hair or whatever you wanna call it. It was above my ear, all right. Way above. All this before I could say, "What's that thing for?"

She must know what she's doing I tried to convince myself. She must have heard my instructions, right? I'm sure I said, "Just above the ear," not "Half my scalp, please." Thinning out? Ha! Ever heard of scissors? Not all guys are razor-loving practice dolls!
Uh oh...

I was soon getting a whole new perspective on my cranium -- one that I hadn't requested. The back part of my head was by now a write-off: a brush cut against my will. I soon became convinced that she hadn't heard a word I'd said, and that she was simply going to shave my entire mane, because I guess that's the style, or whatever. At one point I started to resemble Hitler and that really got me worried. I called it off:

"Naw naw, that's not what I said," I protested.

That's what came out of my mouth as I stopped her from completely eliminating any semblance of the head of hair I sported on the top part of my skull. The back and sides were now discarded clumps on the shop floor. The top and front were obviously next on the enemy list.

The choice was to either settle for a kind of restrained Adolph look, or to allow her to proceed to the Benito Mussolini style: just shave the whole damn thing off. Had she proceeded, and if luck had followed, I may well have ended up looking more like Captain Picard than the Italian dictator "il Duce" ("the leader"), as he was known to the masses and to barbers everywhere. But how was I to know?

So, a butcher from the 21st century in a hair salon was presenting me with the choice of which butcher from the 20th century I wanted to most closely resemble. What a dilemma. I chose the worse of the two evils, minus the part on the one side and the cheesy little mustache. I would try not to goose-step out of there. The choice was made not because of any affinity for the Third Reich over Italian fascism, but because I hoped for a quick growth rebound. It was a simple as that. I still had some hair, and thank heavens for my beard.

I wondered if my daughter would recognize me and I now feared for my dignity in public. The torture continued:

"You need gel," her co-worker explained. The butcher nodded.
"It will keep your hair straight, less wavey," she said.
"I don't always have time," I lied.

I didn't even have the excuse of having fallen asleep in the chair. On the contrary, I had just sat there, fully alert, yet stunned and amazed at the utter disregard for my instructions, and the obvious consequences for my own head. Apparently this was being done on my own behalf!

I now know how women feel when they don't like their "do." I also know what it's like to be 3 years old again (I've seen the pictures of myself in the barber's chair). In my teens, I stopped going to barbers for that very reason, preferring "hair stylists" instead.

I kind of like my hair a little wavy. Gel is a drag. I went in for a simple trim and walked out mildly traumatized. The funny part is, friends and family ended up liking it. They understood my anger at not getting what I'd ordered, but they claim that it worked out for the better, that I look "younger," that it "suits me," blah, blah. Well, now that it has grown back in an acceptable manner, yeah, yeah, it's okay. But that is hardly the point now is it?

I recall that I tipped her a "toonie," the Canadian $2.00 coin. What a softie.



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