… and each lasted a looong time
By Jeff Salter
We’re blogging about bad hair this week. Easy topic for me because I’ve had plenty of rotten haircuts… especially as a kid when my Mom trimmed us with cheap clippers.
But before I regale you with bad haircuts, let me mention the many GOOD cuts I’ve had, and the stylists I’ve followed from shop to shop (if/when they relocated).
First, I need to mention Georgia Raymond, who cut my hair in four different shops over at least a dozen years… until I moved out of state. And locally, Tonya Smith, who’s cut my hair for about nine years… in three different shops. Stylists like Georgia and Tonya have taken the time to get to know me and my family… and to learn the idiosyncrasies of my hair. I appreciate that attention – and their friendship – and those are among the reasons I follow them loyally to whichever shop they advance to.
Clearly my worst haircut of all time is the buzz cut I received in Air Force Basic Training on Jan. 25, 1971 (or maybe the following morning). I no longer have a photo of my first couple of days with that cut, but suffice it to say my hair was still growing out when I reported to my first permanent duty station in early April.
No, this is actor Matt Modine (not me), but it gives you a searing image of what I looked like as a skinhead recruit.
My other most horrid hair cut came when I visited a national chain – it may have been called Saturdays – when I was between stylists. [This was before I met Georgia.]
I took my seat along the wall in the crowded establishment – Bossier City LA – where there were some half dozen stylists cutting hair as fast as they could whap the loose hair from the chair and hustle in the next customer.
It was clearly a place aimed at customers younger than I was at the time (mid-or-late-30s). When I told the young girl I wanted a “business cut”, she seemed quite puzzled. I thought that image was perfectly clear, but evidently I needed to explain. “I part it on the right side, so the hair needs to be longer on this area because it lies over on the left side of my head.” You’d have thought I was discussing the subtleties of entropy with steam.
Anyhow, she finally acted like she understood – I mean, a side part is pretty common … right? – and then she began her work. I should’ve realized something was awry when she gasped and whipped my chair around so I no longer faced the mirror.
“Uh… you comb it from here to here?” she asked, her fingers touching those respective sides of my head.
I demonstrated the combing motion with my fingers. “Yeah,” I replied.
“Uh… okay. Um, let me check with my supervisor.”
I thought it was odd that she’d need permission from higher up to cut a customer’s hair the way he’d requested.
Well, the supervisor came out – a female, not much older than the girl doing the cutting – and her eyes widened noticeably. “What was it that you wanted your hair to do?” she asked me.
“I just want an ordinary business cut, like you see on nearly every other working man in Shreveport and Bossier,” I replied, still baffled that side-parted hair was such a mystery to these females.
At that point, there were whispers and discreet hand motions between the two of them; the supervisor indicated the younger girl should stand back. Then the supervisor took the scissors and comb and began whacking away at my left side. They still had not turned my chair around, so still I had no idea what they’d done… but I knew it was definitely NOT good. Their attentions had also aroused the interest of several people waiting in the chairs along the wall.
The supervisor stood back a moment, then made another snip or two. Then she said, “We have a small problem.” She slowly rotated the chair so I could finally see what they’d done. The younger girl had chopped out a huge chunk of hair and I now had a HOLE on the left side of my head… where the hair from the right side part would have combed over. [Please understand, when I say “comb over” I don’t mean it comes from my ear height. My part is right of center… that’s all.]
So I asked, “What happened?” It was actually a pretty stupid question. I knew exactly what had happened. I’d had the misfortune of getting a brand new stylist, apparently fresh out of barber school (if she’d even graduated)… and so young that she seemingly had no concept of what a standard “business” cut looked like. [Maybe I should have said “office” cut.]
Well, by this time, all this activity had drawn whispers from the gallery and a small crowd of gawkers. At least one person waiting – presumably after seeing the damage to my hair – just stood and walked out. He’d probably wanted a business cut also.
Of course, by now I was so embarrassed by all the attention – not to mention those awful results – that my immediate goal was simply to escape. I didn’t figure either of them would actually be able to do anything to salvage it — except maybe give me a buzz cut. After all, my first look at this travesty was after the supervisor had already repaired some of the contrast between the large “hole” and the rest of my hair.
The more both of them apologized, the more embarrassed I got and the greater certainty I had that it looked more awful than I could see with one mirror.
I left as soon as they could remove my drape.
I had to walk around town – and work (and church) – for around two weeks before my hair grew out enough for another haircut. It was that point that I found Georgia. On my first visit with her, I explained the sad tale of my experience at Saturdays and Georgia said, “That’s okay, we can fix part of it now. In two more weeks, we’ll even out the rest. After that, you won’t even remember you had a big hole here.”
Ha. Well, it’s around 30 years later and I’m BLOGGING about it. LOL.
What is YOUR worst experience with haircuts or hairstyles?