Tuesday 14 April 2020

Haircut Part 2

It took a few months for my hair to grow back after the fiasco with the German barber. I should have given him a piece of my mind, but in those days you showed respect to your elders even if they didn’t deserve any respect. Also, he was a German and it had only been about twenty years since the end of the war and who knows what he did during the war. Judging by old photos, I am going to guess that he could have been Hitlers barber. I did know that I would never go back to him for a hair cut again. Back then I thought that it could have been my haircut which was keeping the girls away from me.

Toronto's iconic House of Lords hairdressers to close this fall ...
I guess it was another two or three months after the few months that there was a chance to do something British invasion like to my head. Lucky for me a new Unisex hair salon had just opened on Yonge St, The House of Lords. It was hip, trendy and avant guard, everything that I wasn’t and wanted to be. It was much more expensive that the German guy, but there was rock music playing and a beautiful girl washed and styled my hair. I should have known something was up when she commented on how broad my shoulders were. I wouldn’t have broad shoulders even if I put a two by four under my shirt. But, I was a teenager and she was pretty and there was loud music playing. Did I say she was pretty?
I came out of the House of Lords floating on a cloud. My hair was puffy and looked like I could have been in a band. I could hardly wait to show off my head to everyone. The next morning I had a shower and my beautiful head of puffy hair looked much like a rat’s nest. She did say something about curling it under with a blow dryer. Mom had a hair dryer that had a plastic bag that would go over your head with a tube attached that blew hot air…it didn’t work! I learned an expensive lesson that day, never trust a woman when she tells you that you are attractive or that you have broad shoulders, she is probably fishing for a tip.
Inside House of lords hair design circa !978, to this day still a ...
The good thing is that my hair was getting longer, and I just let it keep growing. Turns out I kind of liked having a ponytail. My hair stayed that way until I had to find a job in redneck Calgary. I went into a place to apply for a job and although there were plenty of people in the office, not one even looked in my direction let alone asked what I wanted. I walked out in a huff, be damned if I would work at a place like that. A few days later I had my hair cut short…ish and went back to the same counter I had stood at earlier. This time a woman smiled and asked what I wanted and shortly after filling out the application form I was interviewed and found myself head shipper/receiver for Control Lighting. Hair does make a difference, sometimes less is more.

Over the years my hair has never revisited the ponytail. Sometimes it grew longish and sometimes it was cut shortish but I had found out that I didn’t much care what my head looked like, that was other people’s problem. A number of years ago I found out that I had been getting my hair cut by a blind barber and had not really noticed. You can read about it in the blog called “I Would Prefer a Bald Barber”.

For the past few years I walk past a barber shop and if there is no one waiting I will drop in and tell them to cut my hair shorter than it is now and make me look pretty. They mostly get the shorter part right. With the advent of the Coronavirus things have changed. The barbers have shut their doors and wouldn’t you know I was due for my two to three month haircut when they did.

About thirty years ago I asked Louise if she would cut my hair. She wasn’t that keen, but we had a K-Tel razor comb and it looked pretty easy to use in the commercial. The first indication that things weren’t going so well was when Louise said “OOPS”. Oops in never a word you want to hear when getting your hair cut. Preferable to “Is this your ear?” but just marginally so. The haircut deteriorated after that and there was crying involved. I vowed never to put Louise through that again.

I own a pair of hair trimmers I got twenty-five years ago when I decided that I would save the dog groomers fees and cut my then dog Benji’s hair. Let’s just say that the dog stayed indoors for a couple of weeks out of shame and Louise and the kids told me in no uncertain terms that I was to never touch the clippers again. I still have those clippers and the corona virus seems tailor made for me to cut my own hair. I am stuck inside for a few months anyways so it will grow out by the time I see humans again. No harm, no foul.

To my surprise, the haircut went pretty well. My hair no longer bothers me, there was no “OOPS” moment, and I feel confident enough to keep it trimmed on a weekly basis. Who knows, I just may keep cutting it when I am allowed to once again venture outside in the company of human beings again.

I have pretty low standards, after all I had a blind barber for many years.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Haircut Part 1

On April 14, 1943 after piloting a Wellington successful night bombing raid over Stuttgart their plane was attacked and hit on the way home. Three of the crew were injured quite badly, the instruments were knocked out and caught on fire. Dad took a bullet in the calf, but it wasn’t serious. Dad crash-landed the plane on the beach at Dunkirk, suffering no further injuries. This resulted in two years and one month of enforced isolation courtesy of the Luftwaffe and Adolf Hitler.

Over the years I asked dad about his life during the war and like many that served he gave short or non answers to my questions. One of the questions that I asked was if he helped to dig an escape tunnel to which he replied that the older guys did that kind of thing. Dad was 18 at the time. When asked what he did every day in prison camp he said that there wasn’t much to do. There was some sports equipment, so they played soccer and baseball, probably chess and checkers. He did tell me that when a few hundred men get really bored one of the things they do is to play tic-tac-toe by shaving the X’s and O’s onto someone’s head. The game takes a couple of hours but when you have nothing but time to spend then it seems like a good idea. I never did find out if dad was one of the players or the grid. I’m sure it didn’t matter much.

When my brother and I were little, dad would take us to get our hair cut at the plaza by the German barber. The fact that the barber was German didn’t have a lot to do with anything other than he was probably the cheapest and closest barber to where we lived. Dad would always get us what we called a “brush cut” which is much like a flat top. Maybe it is a flat top, who knows. My grandmother would always give dad shit for cutting all our lovely hair off and then go on to say that dad had such beautiful curly, dark hair when he was a boy. Wait! Dad was a boy? He had hair at one time? It was a lot to process for my mind. Also, how did Gram get away with giving dad shit? Dad was the shit giver as far as I was concerned. Knowing what I know now, I am just happy that dad didn’t play tic-tac-toe on my head.

When I was old enough to go to a barber on my own, I went to the same German barber. This time I didn’t want a “brush cut”. You see, the Beatles had just recently done the Ed Sullivan show and short hair was no way to impress the ladies. If I could talk to the young me I could save him a lot of grief, the ladies won’t be interested in you no matter what your hair looks like. Anyways, I went to great lengths to tell the barber just how I wanted my hair to look like. I told him I didn’t want it to look like any of the pictures of haircuts he had on the wall, not at all! I wanted my hair combed onto my forehead to make bangs like the Beatles had. I wanted the sides and back of my hair to stay long and I guess I wanted the hair on the top of my head to be long as well. Basically, I said that this will be the easiest cut you have ever given, just trim the ends. All through the explanation the barber nodded enthusiastically and gave an understanding look at all the right places.

He put the sheet around my neck and then the little tissue thingy which seems to do absolutely nothing. He picked up the comb and a pair of scissors, turned me away from the mirror and the next sound I heard was the electric trimmers buzzing and I felt them dig in at the base of my skull and felt them go against the skin right to the crown of my head. Well…shit! The only Beatle I was going to look like is the African Dung beetle. Maybe the next time I need a haircut I’ll go to someone that didn’t train in a Luftwaffe prison camp.