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.