“A little more off the top, please!”

Your friendly bartender has long held the thought that a new kind of rehab should exist, one that’s for men only, and available to those who are suffering from BHS… (Bad Haircut Syndrome). It’s a recovery program that would carry you through those first three days of trauma… of follicular shock and awe if you will… when you feel like a shorn fourth grader on his first day of school. And because it’s a state that is fraught with doubt and angst like any other “syndrome”, I feel it is time it be handled by trained professionals.

Now in theory, dear reader, here’s how I see this thing working…

In a leafy retreat tucked away in some glen with a name like The Razor’s Hedge (or Whispering “Hollows”, more aptly), staffed with a bevy of comely assistants whose primary function in being assistants is to verbally restore your confidence to what it was, it’s a place that will subtly prepare you to rejoin society. To make you (forgive this phrase) feel better about yourself. And here’s an example of just what that therapy is.

“Good morning, Scribbler, and how did you sleep last night after group? You did? Great! So listen, Mr. Drop Dead Gorgeous, breakfast will be served in the garden this morning, the one overlooking the lake, and… whoah!!!… sorry for being distracted just now but the progress you’ve made in just one day is astounding! In fact, the way your crown caught the light just now I thought it was Brad Pitt sitting in that chair. Mama Mia! Anyway, what I started to say was, breakfast will… oh never mind, I’ll have to come back when I’m little bit more composed. You look so damn fabulous right now I can’t concentrate!”

Get the picture? Bought and paid for ego-stroking… a one way ticket to self-esteem til your soul is restored to the state that it was pre-snip. Simple, no? Insane, yes? But insane is what you are during BHS!

Ah, but since such a retreat is not on the map and the concept is still a pipe dream (a dream indeed from a pipe that is filled with hashish), the next best thing is what happened to your friendly bartender. For he once got a haircut, got BHS, and in walked the perfect solution for what was ailing him. Check this out.

It was a Friday in August when this event took place when the bars in New York are as empty as a Haagen Dazs in December. It’s when everyone’s off to some kind of shore or hiding to avoid, “What are you doing in the city?” So when I started my shift I had no one at the bar except me and my brand new haircut (both sorry sights in that order), both having fallen victim to a brand new barber. A barber with two left hands who was more like a lawn mower. This guy was a Russian who was new to the nabe who’d boasted a price of ten bucks, which that right there should’ve told me I should’ve known better. But when I did know better it was far too late and after requesting umpteen touch-ups to bail this thing out, I finally acquiesced and accepted my lawn mower special.

Now about an hour into this lonesome vigil (still laid low by “the syndrome”), while checking myself in the mirror for the forty sixth time, in walked a guy and three gals to take up four stools. They kind of looked familiar for a second, like I’d seen this act before, but I just couldn’t place the when and the where of that memory. But when they all ordered Cuervo margaritas on the rocks… three with salt, one without… I immediately flashed on just who these people were.

“You’re the hair people, right?” I said, completely devoid in that moment of a better way to phrase that.

“Yes, we are,” said the guy suppressing a smile. He was the owner of a swanky hair salon just around the corner.

And then, “Hair people?” was echoed by the women with a titter.

“I know, sorry about that,” I said, “but I couldn’t think of what the hell to call you. And you usually all sit at a table, right? Which is why I didn’t register who you were at first.”

The woman who ordered “no salt” then spoke up. “Well, you looked so darn lonely, bartender, standing here all by yourself, we thought we’d come over and pay you a visit for a change. Is that all right?”

“Of course it’s all right,” I said. But “Hell no!” is what I thought… for she was pretty and I looked like I’d just run through a brush fire. Slowly. With no hat!

Well it all turns out, as fate would have it, they weren’t just any old “hair people”, they catered, I learned, to the coifs of the rich and famous… Madonna when she’s in town being chief among them. Now that’s big stuff as far as hair joints go (or at least a far cry from Boris with his tensky per cutsky), so after making the four margaritas, I figured I’d go for a rich and famous opinion here. Or come clean, at least, lest they thought I thought I looked normal.

“Can I ask you guys a question,” I said, “like a real professional opinion?”

“Of course,” said the guy, again speaking for the group.

“Okay, plain and simple and I want the truth. Is this the worst freaking haircut you’ve ever seen? I mean ever!” They looked at each other, then looked at me, then looked at each other again for silent consensus, then one of the women took on the nerve to speak up.

“Worst ever? No. But definitely high on the absolute worst top ten list! It’s really bad.”

“Well dammit thanks for your honesty, miss, I knew it was bad but I wanted to know just how bad. Not, of course, that it helps my situation!” But I actually did feel a tinge of relief, like you feel when you make a confession, like everything’s out in the open now and they’re not thinking, “Is he serious walking around with that fucking do???”

Now here’s where everything changed and all for the good.

“I’d be glad to fix that,” the shop owner said, “if you’d like.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, fix it… make it right.”

“Well, I appreciate that,” I replied, “but your prices might be a little bit out of my league.”

“Who said anything about prices?” Then he reached in his bag, pulled out some scissors and added to my surprise, “If you’ve got a back room I’ll do it for you right now.”

“Are you serious?”

“Sure, why not?”

“But you just got off work and this is work.”

“And this is a real emergency,” he said, ever the professional.

Well the place was empty, and there is that back room where the ice machine sits, and the idle waiter can handle whatever action might come in, and… and… this is a Rolls Royce guy fixing a Ford here, so I motioned to “come with me” and off we went. I took him to a room in the back of the house, grabbed a table cloth to cover me, then I took a seat and let the games begin. And all the while all the snipping took place here’s what kept on running through my blown-out mind. I gotta be the only freaking bartender in the whole damn city of New York, and maybe in the whole damn world if you really think about it, getting a haircut right in the middle of his shift. And by Madonna’s freaking stylist, no less, as a bonus. A night to remember!

So when the job was done and all was right (and “Material Boy” could once again face the world) we were greeted with a round of applause when we re-entered the bar. And thanks to this splash from his staff of three I felt like a brand new man with a whole new outlook. (And much more confident in sharing some chat now with “no salt”.) So I bought a round for the four from my pocket… still, I’m sure, hundreds short of what that touch-up would’ve cost… and I faced the rest of the evening as your confident bartender.

So in closing, my lovable barflies, until that spa for BHS even hints as a viable option, the one with the comely assistants and breakfasts in gardens, I’ll have to cultivate customers who do stuff like this. And avoid those Russians!

Over and out from Bar-land… see ya’ next week-end.

20 Responses to ““A little more off the top, please!””

  1. 1 Ken August 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Scrib: You’ve really topped yourself. This is a classic. Me, the same guy has been cutting my hair since the Kennedy Administration. He knows what I like and he’s a great guy. He’s well into his 70s, and working because he’s had both knees replaced. Don’t know what I’m going to do when he finally hangs up his scissors and his straight razor.

  2. 2 Petro August 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Ken’s right, your writing is getting better and better. Between that, and Wolcott’s recent admonition – “there are tons of bloggers who don’t qualify as writers, believe you me” – I’m having BHS right this moment.

    And I shave my head.

    Anyway, “…and I looked like I’d just run through a brush fire. Slowly. With no hat!” about killed me. You rock.

    (expressing nervousness about my HTML above again because you have no preview. Here goes…)

  3. 3 jc August 22, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Dude, DUDE, I haven’t laughed that hard for a while. *tears streaming down face, nose running, hot mess* I was a goner at brush fire too there Material Boy. Now go strike a pose.

  4. 4 Anonymoustache August 22, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Great stuff, Scrib50…..one for the ‘best of’ list.
    This one needs to be worked into a script that Mike Myers can perform…..you know….Coif-ee talk with Linda Richmond…no big whoop, today’s topic is hair cuts, ‘a cheap hair cut is neither cheap nor a hair cut’….discuss amongst yourselves….

    Real nice of the ‘hair people’ to rescue you with emergency tonsorial surgery, man. There have been many an occasion when I sure could’ve used something like that.

  5. 5 scribbler50 August 22, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Ken: You’re a lucky man, my friend, at least for now. A barber in the hand is worth two of my bushwhackers.

    Petro: Thanks, Bro, I appreciate the kind words. And I’m glad you got caught up in “the brush fire”. (Meanwhile, how can you get BHS from a shaved head?)

    jc: I just struck a post and now I have “tears streaming down face, nose running, hot mess”. Yikes!

    Anonymoustache: Love it, Wordsmith, again you’ve topped YOUR-self. And how about after “cheap hair cut” the topic be moved to… “Should Madonna be called Madge? I’m getting ver-klempt over here? Discuss!!!”

  6. 6 Jennifer August 22, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I cut my own hair for over 10 years just because I was too tired of BHS and I’d rather be mad at myself. I had hair that stylists always said was “So fun to cut!!!” that they get lost in it and I’d end up with some overly-layered, heinous do.

    I’m glad you had such a wonderful ending to your horrible situation.

  7. 7 physiobabe August 22, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    “Material Boy” – tee hee!!! Fantastic post, as usual.

    No smooches this week, Scrib,just hugs, OK?

  8. 8 Ink August 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    GREAT story! It’s almost like a fairy tale with a happy ending…the hair people showing up right when you were feeling low and giving you a cut for free????? Freakin’ magical.


    Oh, and I actually started choking because I was laughing too hard when I read “And this is a real emergency.” 🙂

  9. 9 Ken August 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    All this story needed was Dave the Dude and Apple Annie of Shubert’s Alley.

  10. 10 Comrade PhysioProf August 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Awesome, dude! And I hope you learned your fucken lesson: you’d never drink some shit-ass booze from a plastic bottle, so why the fuck would you skimp on a haircut?

  11. 11 scribbler50 August 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Jennifer: Man, what a luxury to be able to cut your own hair! No cost, no waiting in line, no boring conversation with someone who asks too many questions, no holding your breath because the person might take too much off, just the price of a lollipop to give your self at the end. 🙂

    physiobabe: I liked “Material Boy” too, couldn’t resist!

    Ink: Thank you so much, I appreciate it. And yeah, “magical” might be the word because if they had been seated at a table like they’d always done in the past, I never would’ve walked over and asked that question. Meant to be.

    Physioprof: Well put, Dude, and lesson learned!

  12. 12 chris August 23, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Great post, Scrib. Little story of my own I’ve been going to the same woman at a hair salon since I was a little kid. I moved to up state NY for a while to a little small town and thought to myself lets try a barbershop as opposed to the salon. You know do that mans man thing. So I go in and there are about 4 other people in front of me. As I sit and patiently wait my turn I notice everyone seems to be leaveing with the same hair cut, and not a very good one at that. Like the price should have tipped you off, everyone leaveing with the same bad haircut should have tipped me off. So I get up there tell him a #2 on the sides and a #3 on the top and fade the top in with the sides. But of course what happened? I left with the same haircut as the other poor schmucks. But live and learn I guess huh Scrib, unlike you I didn’t have Madonna’s stylist to fix things I took my own clippers from home and just buzzed it all the same length and lived with it. Have a good one my man and another great story.

  13. 13 scribbler50 August 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Chris: Funny story, man, despite getting cloned. And what’s funny is, it reminds me of one of those sci-fi movies (or commercials) I saw once where, one by one, people on a conveyor belt were rolled into a glass booth, got zapped in some way, then came out the other side all looking alike.

    Nice to have those clippers though which I don’t nor do I know how to use.

  14. 14 chris August 23, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I work with them daily bro, I own a dog grooming business for the last 10 years or so. Really nothing to it at all as long as you want nothing fancy, a standard clipper comes with a blade that will cut your hair short and then generally comes with combs. Combs are the plastic things you may see over the blades in a barber shop, just changes how short the blade will be by making it sit up higher. If you would be happy if it was just all the same length you could pick one you like and just cut it all off and as long as you stay with the grain of your hair it should turn out fine. Hardest part would be the back but you could use a mirror. Clean up the back of your neck and around your ears and your done. May also need a pair of scissors the blade doesn’t always get everything. But you know on second thought I’ve heard about this great new barber that only charges 10$ and is fluent in Russian 😛 Have a good one man.

  15. 15 scribbler50 August 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Thanks, Chris, and “touche!”

  16. 16 Brenda August 24, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Listen, Mr. Drop Dead Gorgeous, favorite man o mine, it’s what UNDER the haircut that counts, or haven’t you heard?

  17. 17 scribbler50 August 24, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Brenda: Yeah, I’ve heard, but that’s hard to realize during those first three days when the man under the haircut looks like the man under the golf divot! You’ve heard of “best foot forward”?

  18. 18 Jager August 24, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Great story, with a happy ending.
    In tne early 90’s I was wearing my hair semi-long, went to a new “cutter” and she proceeded to screw me up, big time. She finished and said, “what do you think”? It was bad, she went back to work, we went through the “what do you think” again, back to work and again. I went back to the office looking like a Marine Major, the hair on the top of my head was about a 1/4 of an inch long, I was pissed,when I got back to the office my co-workers, all said…”Cool hair cut” and the ultra hip intern gave it a thumbs up…gone short since and I’ve found a young Hispanic Barber in SoCal who keeps an old man hip.

    Ever try Bulleit Fronteir Whiskey?

  19. 19 scribbler50 August 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Jager: Never tried Bulleit Frontier, never even heard of it. Just looked it up and it sounds like a winner.

  20. 20 Jager August 25, 2010 at 10:44 am


    My bourbon drinkin’ pal, Dennis Jon (born in Kentucky) turned me on to it. Its as smooth as the proverbial baby’s butt, no rough edge to it at all. In SoCal its priced between Jack and Knob Creek. The bottle looks like it came off the shelf in Al Swearengen’s bar in Deadwood.

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