When I was a kid, my mom would take me to one of the local barber shops along Water Street in Salem to get my hair cut. Except, we had a process for this. We’d get up eeeeextra early on non-school days, or Saturdays if it were the school year, and we’d go in and sit outside in the car waiting for the barber to flip the “Closed” sign to “Open”. Then we’d go in, mom would explain how she wanted the hair cut (“shorten the bangs, blocked in the back”). I would just sit there uncomfortably in what was clearly a place for old men to gather, and cringe at the sound of the razor and struggle to keep my sleepy eyes open. Mom would sit in the corner.
It was until yesterday morning I realized why we always had to get up so early: she hated going to the barber shop.
Mom went to the House of Fashion in Salem and Vivian had cut mom’s hair for years and years. It wasn’t until after mom died that I myself started going there. My grandmother still goes there. Mom, I assume, must have thought that boys should go to barbers, and thus, she would take me to the barber because that’s what moms do and Dad wasn’t inclined to doing it because of work.
In life’s little ironies, we should have just always gone to the place mom wanted to go because it was the place I eventually wanted to go when I was old enough to start making that decision on my own. I came to trust Sheila at the House of Fashion with my hair and was satisfied with her work and went there right up until I moved to Indy.
Once in Indy, I bounced around to all sorts of places trying to find the right place for a fair price (I’m sorry, I’m not paying $50 for a haircut; I don’t have that much hair. I get that it’s often priced for a woman’s amount of hair-cutting, but that’s not me, so I’m not paying it). I didn’t find such a place until I tried Snipz in Irvington, which I found and had my hair cut and slightly colored at once. I liked the decor, it was gender-neutral, had a great staff, fair prices, and they treated hair like the art that it is. It only took me 7 years to find that place. Then I moved to Connecticut.
So now I’m in this process again, scouring Yelp reviews and trying to find a place that meets my exacting standards. Because of my experiences at the barber, I detest having a razor taken to my hair. I want it hand-cut with scissors. I want it to be to no more than $25 for a haircut (and even that irks me, but I’ve grown to accommodate that much). I want someone who makes good conversation, not idle chit chat, while cutting my hair. I prefer to have a gay man touch my hair because I can get persnickety about color and style and I don’t have to feel weird or “gay” about it, but I don’t want an older guy or any woman who has that “stylist look” (you know the type: the overly fussy hair, colored all to hell, sporting ridiculously long fingernails (I detest fingernails, who knows why).
It’s not easy finding that sort of place. Here I am at it again, but over the last 20 odd years, I’ve at least learned what I don’t like. In the meantime, I keep wandering by places, noticing the fonts and graphic design on the shop window, checking out the website (no prices listed or photos of your work is a flag to me), checking Yelp reviews, peeking in at the decor because I don’t want to sit in a pink chair with a box of rollers sitting nearby, and ultimately wandering on because of a failure to match my requirements by so many places.