Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Haircut

Seems a rather prosaic topic for a post, doesn't it? Perhaps. But haircuts have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The haircut I received on Saturday last is what triggered this rampant desire to post about haircuts. Bear with me.

First off, some definitions: (from 

1) hair  is any of the cylindrical filaments characteristically growing from the epidermis of a mammal;
2) a hare  is a large, long-eared and long-legged rabbit;
3) an heir  is a person who is entitled by law or by the terms of a will to inherit the estate of another
Now just so we're all clear here, it's #1 we're talking about cutting, i.e. "hair". Not "hare" and not "heir". We won't be discussing cutting up a large, long-eared and long legged rabbit. Nor will we be talking about cutting some heir from the will. I don't want confusion to set in at this point in time, otherwise, all is lost. (Well, not "all" but certainly the entire point of this post would be lost. Not that anyone would notice anyway. They'd just figure it was another of my many tangents, diversions and digressions. Like what you're reading right now. GET ON WITH IT! Right, sorry.)

So, where do I begin? Ah yes. At some point in the last few weeks the Missus Herself began to make disparaging remarks regarding the state of my hair.

"You look like a mad scientist!", she said.

"Mwaaa haaaa haaaa", I answered.

"Whap", went 'upside my head'.

"Yes, dear." I stated in a clear, manly voice. Sounding not unlike James Earl Jones. If Jame Earl Jones sounded like a cowering, sniveling little boy. Not that I sounded like that, mind you. Or, not much like that. But I (Whap - OW, THAT HURT!) digress.

So after a week (or so) I committed myself to "go and get a haircut".

You know, you would think that after 24 years in the military I would not need to be told to get a haircut. Actually the ONLY time that I needed to be told to get a haircut was when I was a civilian. Both before the Air Force and after (which would be now, for those NOT paying attention. Don't think I didn't notice. There WILL be a quiz and this WILL be on the final!) While on active duty it was just something you did, without being told.

Why I go so long between haircuts now I think is a carry-over from my child hood. For when I was a youth, the British invaded. (I can picture my kids chortling right now, "Yeah Dad, you're so old you went to school with the Founding Fathers. Heh, you probably remember the lobster-backs marching to Concord to seize the powder and shot. No, not THAT British invasion, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. THAT British invasion.)

So it soon became the thing to grow one's hair a little longer than the style popular with most Dads back in the '50's and '60's. (Which is a style still popular with Marine Drill Instructors.) Or attempt to grow one's hair a bit longer than normal.

For a long time I was convinced that I was named after Jesus (not Hay-soos, mind you) with the odd addition of the middle initial "H". As in, "Jesus H. Christ, when are you going to get a haircut?!?!?"

I'm not saying it was a constant war, just an ongoing insurgency wherein hostilities would flair up whenever
the cylindrical filaments characteristically growing from the epidermis of this mammal (Your Humble Scribe) reached a length which my Father thought unseemly. Then I would reluctantly get a haircut and hostilities would subside. Until the next time the cylindrical filaments got out of hand.

All of that just to get to the point where I say, "So I drove down to Newport Naval Station to get a haircut." Now that I've got that far, it's time for another "aside" or tangent, if you will. Where I live to the base is not that far. About twelve miles. The nearest barbershop to my house is much closer than that. So the Missus Herself is often heard to ask, "Why do you have to drive all the way to the base, just to get a haircut?"

I know it must seem odd, to drive about 24 miles to get a haircut (that's round trip mileage for the spatially-challenged among you), when I could drive perhaps five miles for what seems, on the surface, to be the exact same haircut. It's not the price, it costs the same no matter which venue I choose. (It's just a haircut. "Short on the back and sides. Tapered." It's that simple. We won't discuss the "hair" on top of my head. There is a reason I always wear a hat. Well, except in church or in restaurants. Or at my Mom's house. Or at Frank and Ruth's house, or... Sorry, I'm rambling again.)

So what is the reason for the 24 mile versus 5 mile trip for to get my locks shorn?

It's the little vacuum-cleaner thingee that the barbers on base have attached to their clippers. It sucks up those little hairs that would otherwise infiltrate under my shirt collar and make me feel "all itchy" the entire day. That's the only reason I drive down to the base to get a haircut. Until now. (An example of foreshadowing that is. Weak, I know, but I do this for free ya know. Out of the bottom of my heart, as it were... GET ONE WITH IT!)

Wandered again, didn't I?

Let's fast forward a bit, shall we?

I drive onto the base and start seeing signs for "OCS Arrivals" or something to that effect. Note that OCS is an acronym for Officer Candidate School. Newport Naval Station has one of these. So I'm thinking that a new group of young men and women are arriving today to begin their transition from civilians to officers in the Naval Service of the United States. Note this fact and note it well. (The "OCS Arrivals" thing is important to our rousing tale. Okay, so it's not rousing. Perhaps "mildly amusing" would be a more apt characterization.)

I arrive at the Navy Exchange, prepared to swap a small amount of American currency for one of the barbers shortening my 
cylindrical filaments to a length more in keeping with the sensible sensibilities of my darling wife, the Missus Herself. That is, get a haircut. (Har, har, har, yes, to get them ALL cut. I know one of you was thinking this. There was a disturbance in the Force. That's how I knew!)

I proceed to the barber shop, still not getting it. It was then that I notice that there are legions of young men standing about in identical track suits with Navy logos on them. All of them have exceedingly short haircuts.

"Hhmm, that's odd.", I'm thinking. Until I open the door to the barber shop. The place is chock full of young males in various uniforms. All getting their hair cut. Today it seems is not a good day to get the cylindrical filaments cut.

There are brand new OCS-types, there are brand new ensigns, there are multiple Naval Academy Prep School types (for that too is at Newport Naval Station). All of whom wish to get their already very short hair styles shortened even further. Well, perhaps "wish" is the wrong word to use. I'm sure there was a bit of coercion involved. I also know that once these kids get to the fleet, their "desire" to look like Russian conscripts will go away and they'll get their haircut in a much more stylish fashion. Or what passes for stylish in the Naval Services.

At any rate, I find myself looking at the prospect of a very long wait to get my hair cut to the point where I no longer "look like a mad scientist" (mwaaaa haaaa haaaa). What to do, what to do? Fortunately I have other errands which I can run at the base. (To include a new hat, but that's a story for another time. Is anyone writing this stuff down? Remind me to do a post regarding my hat collection. Somebody? "Bueller? ... Bueller? ... Bueller?")

So I do what I can and head north, back to the home turf and that other barber shop which is within a five-mile round trip of Chez Sarge. Fully prepared to tolerate little hairs causing me to be "all itchy".

I arrive at the alternate cylindrical filament cutting establishment to find that they've remodeled the place. Now it has always looked more like a "salon" than a barbershop, now it looks even more so that way. And there are numerous "mature" women of the blue hair variety all sitting about having their coiffures sculpted into various and sundry fantastic shapes. (I didn't say "old women" because I know my maternal grandmother, if she was still alive, would smack me if I did. Come to think of it, so would my Mom. And I would no doubt deserve it. For that or for any of a number of other reasons.)

With some hesitation I approach the counter where two very lovely younger ladies are gazing with fierce concentration upon a computer screen. Eventually they notice me standing there, with a certain trepidation apparent upon my noble countenance.

"Hi, have you been here before?" Why they ask is because they want to know if I am "in the computer". Why certainly not, I say, I'm standing right here. I'm obviously far too large to fit in that small plastic electronics enclosure...

Oh, is my "name" in the computer? Yes, yes it is. I was here perhaps two years ago. (Which drew an odd look, because my hair didn't seem to have been cut two years ago but far more recently. But, again, I digress.)

They look me up by my phone number (which is hard to remember because I seldom, if ever, call myself). And shortly thereafter I am ensconced in a chair with various things tucked into my collar and draped about my shoulders.

I describe how I want my hair cut (short back and sides, tapered, no I don't know what number of clipper was used last time) and the lovely blonde lady then begins to robustly run her fingers through my hair. Kind of like you would pet a favorite hound upon the completion of a successful hunt. Though not quite that vigorous.

It had a certain stimulating effect but I'm sure she just did that to determine the extent of work required to remove the mad scientist look (mwaaa haaa haaa).

The work then began, much whirring of clippers, snipping of scissors and combing of hair ensued. Then, when the barberess (?) and I had decided that the shortness of the hair was sufficient, she dragged me over for to wash my hair.

As I was being dragged she noted my puzzled look and told me "don't-worry-it's-all-included". Included in what? I frantically asked myself. OMG! I came in for a haircut, am I being (shudder) styled?

At any rate, my locks (such as they were for now I would have looked pleasing to a Marine Drill Instructor with poor eyesight, i.e. hair was very short) having been cut and then washed were now blow-dried and suitable for inclusion in polite company.

It was with some trepidation that I approached the cash register. Wondering "just-how-much-is-this-going-to-cost".

"That will be eight dollars", the comely blonde with the dark eyes and sweet visage informed me with a smile. Gladly I paid. Gave her a ten I did and felt good about it. Also noticed that I wasn't feeling "all itchy". The shampoo must have put paid to that small annoyance.

I walked out all fresh and clean. Ready to face the world with my shiny new haircut. Also realizing that there would be no need to go to the base for future cylindrical filament maintenance. The "it's included" shampoo obviated the need for the vacuum thingee attached to the hair clippers.

Life is good I thought.

Life is good.

(I know, it was just a haircut. But it was an excellent haircut.)


  1. THere is no underestimating a good haircut.

    I get mine for free at my SIL's itching!

    My Brother did the OCS thing in Newport. Well he lived off base in a home right on the sound accross from the "Breakers" so maybe he was there for special training or as an instructor. He did get his commission through OCS. Maybe he was there twice WHOMP! OUCH! I guess I digress sometimes as well.

    1. You're right as regards a good haircut.

      I love to digress. Always feel free to digress here.

      (Superb use of "WHOMP! OUCH!" by the way.)

  2. Seems a rather prosaic topic for a post, doesn't it?

    Well, mebbe. The again, mebbe not.

    We differed considerably in our military habits when it comes to getting shorn. I was CONSTANTLY in hot water... from the beginning until the very end... about the length of my hair; AFR 35-10 was the literal bane o' my existence, but only for the hair part (my uniforms were in complete and total compliance). I have no ideer WHY that is, but I practiced the art of "passive resistance" like a science.

    I get my haircuts out at the base these days, having finally found a barberess that will actually cut my hair the way **I** want it cut, and not like how **she** thinks it should look.

    You got a deal at eight bucks. The barber shop at Cannon Airplane Patch charges nine for "just" the cut.

    1. Heh. What's old is new again. Yet another example of why you're the Sensei and I the humble apprentice.

      By the way, an excellent post that was. I once had a superb haircut in Korea, on the base. Had to go in early on a Saturday morning to work on a jet. Arrived to discover that the mid shift guys had fixed 'er up and shipped 'er out. So I was footloose and fancy free. Seeing as how I was on the base anyway, had breakfast at the NCO Club. Still had time to kill so I figured, what the heck, I'll get a haircut. Barber shop ("manned" normally by an ALL female crew) was deserted. So I had perhaps the longest most enjoyable haircut I've ever had. Being the center of attention of three lovely young ladies in an experience similar to yours. Nothing untoward occurred, things stayed strictly, well let's say, "PG".

      Walked out feeling like a million bucks. Best haircut evah!

      Last time I got a haircut at the NEX it was $8.50, up from $8.00. Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised that off base I only paid $8.00

      I never really pushed the 35-10 limits with the hair. Hell, I started going bald at 18, so there really wasn't much hair to grow out anyway. That battle had been fought in my teens, Dad won with me but both brothers grew their hair out pretty long. Guess I kinda wore Dad down over the hair thing.

  3. Great story! And here I thought I was the only fussy old codger about stuff like haircuts. By the way did you ever get your haircut at Belisle's Barber Shop School? The students gave butch or flattop for 25 or 50 cents. My parents really weren't concerned with fashion ( neither was I, the less time wasted in a barbershop the better)but they sure liked that price!

    1. Thanks Greg! I'm betting I probably did get a haircut or three there. Mom and Dad would've loved the price. And Dad was a big fan of the crew cut look. Back in the day I didn't really care what my hair looked like. Well, perhaps in junior high and high school. But not that much.

  4. I had many the fight with My Dad, too, concerning the length of my locks. I remain pissed off about those fights. My Dad was a swell guy, gave me a roof to live under and three squares, was right about most things (as I've come to learn as the years have passed) but I started going bald at age 22 and he fought me tooth and nail most of the way to that point. Now that I'm utterly devoid of hair on top, I have to get it cut short (otherwise I begin to look as though I'm trying out for the part of a Ben Franklin impersonator.)

    1. I've done the Ben Franklin thing. It's not pretty.

  5. My dad was a great guy and he had a great son, but he gave my brother hell over his hair back in the early to mid 70's. And my brother's hair was not THAT long. It was as if it was the thang to fight over. What a waste. And it caused hard feelings. After my brother left home, then he grew some hair... and huevos.

    1. Yeah, I think at that time it was the thing to fight over for Dads and sons. Never fought with my son over his hair, told him that was his call. It was his Mother he would have to deal with!


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