17 February 2008

A Few Minutes From A Haircut...

I'm a few minutes away from one of my weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) haircuts. I started cutting my own hair years ago during my punk rock phase. The first time I ever did it was a few minutes after my parents dropped me off at my first college. The minute my things were down on the ground and I knew my parents had hit the freeway, I lit up a cigarette, looked around the room, and shuddered with glee. My plan had been in the works for weeks, and now, it was time for brilliant execution.
I grew up watching "The A-Team," and thought Mr. T was a golden god. Between that and regular exposure to 80s pop culture, the mohawk had taken on an allure all its own. I distrinctly remember walking through the Burnsville Center circa 1984-85 and seeing a leather-clad punk rocker with a green mohawk swaggering through the mall. The effect on my brain was sheer electricity, and I remember my mom saying, "You're never going to get one of those..." Combine those memories with a high-school punk rock phase and repeated veiwings of "Taxi Driver" (where Robert DeNiro shaves a mohawk into his head before going on a shooting rampage) and the seeds were sewn.
There were small mirrors on the inside of the closet doors, and the mirror was lit up by the large window the door opened up to face. There was a small towel rack underneath that, which I used to mix the container of black hair dye that needed to get itself together (chemically) before being applied. I plugged in the shaver, and took off the guard on the end of it. The Conair needed to be tweaked before I used it, and I oiled the blades before taking the quaking, vibrating device near the front edge of my head. If there were a moment to go back, this was it.
The first pass took off clumps of hair that fell slowly to the floor like newly-minted snoflakes. I picked one of the clumps up. My hair was darker than I realized; held up to the light, it was soft, and black as coal. I'd always thought of it as more brownish than anything. Cutting the top was the easy part. I used a CD to reflect the general outline of how the back was going. Within 15 minutes, the cut hair was covering every inch of the floor near my feet. I went over to my resident advisor's door. I'd not met him yet, and the first sight he got of me was of my 210-pound self with a grin on his face and a bad mohawk cut into his head.
"Hi!" I chriped. "I need to use a vacuum. Where do I get one?"
His eyes kept flitting up to my head.
"I think you'll have to go downstairs for that."
I thanked him, and went on with my plan. I had to finish the job before I went downstairs. I took the hair dye into the bathroom, and worked it into my scalp using the rubber glove that came with the box. I was supposed to let it sit for 15 minutes or so, but got impatient, and washed it out before it had time to really do anything. Looking in the mirror, something wasn't quite right about my haircut. I decided to shave off the hair on the sides using the double-bladed Bic razors they handed out at the bookstore that morning. I popped off the safety tab on the razor, lathered up my head, and cut my head so badly that the water I used to rinse the remaining shaving cream off turned pink. To say this stung was an understatement. I was shirtless, and went back to my room to get some band-aids and get dressed. I reached for the door handle, and it wouldn't move. I was locked out of my room. I looked down. The blood was slowly running down my neck and on to my chest. To anyone passing by, I must have looked like a bleeding psychopath. I ended up going downstairs, shirtless and bleeding, to get my key. I walked past at least 200 kids and their parents waiting to check in. Come to think of it, I really shouldn't be surprised that I didn't make too many friends that year.
Now, my haircuts aren't too radical: a crew cut with a Number Four guard leaves things nice enough for my tastes. I hate paying for haircuts. By cutting my own, I save at least $20 a month, meaning the clippers have already paid for themselves. But I can't help but remember my first haircut without thinking that it was born out of the same spirit that motivates me now - the desire to do things by myself, for myself, and to fly a flag of indepenence from an ever-shrinking hairline.

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