There are twelve steps involved in a haircut. I enjoy none of them.

The Decision

When do you need a haircut? The line, for me, is not just between “needs a haircut” and “doesn’t need a haircut.” There is a third category: “should get a haircut.”

The line between “doesn’t need a haircut” and “should get a haircut” is subtle. Things get a little shaggy.

The line between “should get a haircut” and “needs a haircut” is dramatic and upsetting. The top of my head quickly goes comb-over-ish.

The scheduling

The line into “needs a haircut” is usually crossed when I have no spare time and/or no spare money for 6-10 days. Usually I manage to run into a Supercuts or the like 10 minutes before closing, which ensures the staff is elated to see me.

The decline

Especially when I ruin their day right off by declining the shampoo. I don’t know why this bothers them. I wash my hair before I arrive, they get paid the same — more on this later — and neither of us has to breathe the heavy floral scent that smells like it was designed to mask the odor of a July suicide no one noticed till August.

The question

This is the worst part:

“How do you want it cut?”

I want it long. And fuller on top. And farther down my forehead. If you can’t do that, don’t rub it in. Just quietly cut every hair to fifty percent of current length. We both feel bad for me. Let’s not talk about it.

The small talk

I’m a little deaf, and I’m in trouble if I stray from the phonetically-memorized How-Are-You-How-Was-Your-Holiday-What-Do-You-Do script. Talk on your cellphone if you need a friend, that’s cool. Just stop pretending we’re enjoying this.

The sideburns

There is no answer to the question “How long you want sideburns?” that will not be met with eloquently judgmental eyebrows saying, “Seriously?” Don’t ask me. Just pick something. They’ll grow back.

The neck

I am aware it is difficult to discern where shaving the neck leaves off and shaving the back begins. Unsnapping the tissue-collar and smock is fine. Pulling out the neck of my T-shirt is both insulting and itchy. I’m not really into tank tops, so just go ahead and stop at the collar. Thanks.

The ears

Men of a certain age require a quick glide over the ears with the clippers. I am of that age. Treat this like the doctor treats the hernia check: You know we have to do it. Don’t loudly ask me if I want it. Just do it.

The top

Do I want it “longer on top”? Yes. Good luck.

The gel

Do I want gel? As what, polish? Look, I know corporate gives you this script, but it’s OK to go off-book.

The bill

It is ridiculous to list the price of “shampoo and haircut” as $15 if you are going to charge that without the shampoo, too. Who’s your marketing department? Charge $15 for the cut and throw in the shampoo free.

Speaking of marketing. Attention Supercuts, Haircuttery, etc.: The first among you to offer the Bald Budget Bargain, which I propose be $10, inclusive of tip, for 10 minutes with a silent professional who will simply neaten things up and send you on your way will thrive beyond your wildest imaginings. I’m talking doubled stock price and customer loyalty greater than that of the Chicago Cubs.

The tip

I have worked for tips. I am a really good tipper. I have never stiffed on a haircut. But let me vent: You ran clippers over my head, yammered about nothing, and embarrassed me. Why am I tipping you? If I wanted to enjoy sitting in a chair and being abused without physical contact, I’d hire a dominatrix. It might cost more, but I would, strangely, feel less violated. And her I would tip cheerfully.

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