Getting a haircut always makes me feel a bit light-headed.
As a kid, I dreaded going to the barber more than going to the dentist.
I didn't mind the barber himself. What unsettled me was knowing in advance that no matter how much I braced myself, the experience would result a startling, potentially jeer-rousing change in my appearance. I would reluctantly climb onto that barber chair with one kind of look, maybe a little shaggy, and leave a short time later feeling like I had less fuzz on my head than a scalded tennis ball.
Actually, I rarely experienced a haircut that extreme. Self-consciousness always magnified the change into something much worse, a potential subject of taunting at school when slightly longer hair was cool.
Looking at pictures from yesteryear, I realize my afforded latitude for hair was fair.
And these days, it's not so bad. In fact, once I get it in my noggin that I'm overdue for a haircut, I'm a bit out of sorts until it can happen - and suddenly I'm in that antique barber chair in Seaside again. The one who cuts my hair knows what she is doing, the conversation is pleasantly meandering, and soon the extra cares rescind like stray hairs in the wind.
Thinking of years past and sometimes bad haircuts, I am reminded that in the end, everything is "hair today, gone tomorrow." The change that comes from a haircut on a crisp fall day can serve as a reminder that variation is not a bad thing.
I am not alone in such sentiments. From Sweeney Todd to Floyd the barber on "The Andy Griffith Show," the practitioners of haircutting have long captivated the imagination. A few snippets snap into my now slightly more streamlined head:
"It was the best of trims, it was the worst of trims, it was the style of sensibility, it was the style of stupidity, it was the cut of high fashion, it was the cut of low buffoonery ..."
- From "A Tale of Two Haircuts" by Charles Wiggins
"Oh, Mr. Dreadlock Stones, would you take the case?"
Stones continued to gaze coldly through the lens at the strand of hair he held in a forceps. "Take it?" said he. "I've already solved it."
"But how, pray tell?"
"I'll explain later," he said. "Now, doctor," he said, turning to me. "Fetch your revolver. If we hurry, we may catch the culprit - but if we do, we'll only make it by a whisker."
- From "The Adventure of the Scarlet Sideburn" by Sir Reginald Roman Coil
INT. - WESTERN BARBERSHOP - DAY
Wearing a smock, HOWARD clutches the arms of the barber chair. He glances forlornly in the mirror where a reflection is visible of his gun holster slung far out of reach on the hat-rack. The barber, JACK, is methodically sharpening a razor on a leather strop.
HOWARDIt's been quite a few weeks.
JACKYou should have come in sooner.
HOWARDYou're right. I've let it go too dog-gone long. I know that makes you mad. Darn mad. I won't let it happen again, Jack, honest.
(Approaching with the razor)
- From the screenplay of "Haircut at the O.K. Corral" by Mullet Earp
"My friends are all still raving about all this close shaving, but is my hair worth saving? Yes!
"A lifetime seems so fleeting when hairlines are receding, but is my heart still beating? Yes!"
- From the Broadway musical, "Bald!" by Yul Grynner
On second thought, I may be a little too light-headed. All this business is getting a little hairy. Time to cut it short.
Brad Bolchunos, the south county reporter for The Daily Astorian, may not be remembering his literary references with perfect accuracy, but who's splitting hairs?