A few weeks ago, I got a haircut. It was remarkably bad. Approaching this unnamed barbershop — let’s call it Shmil’s (the one on Shmall Street, not the one on Shmroadway) — I was pretty damn nervous. There’s something very personal about haircuts, at least to me. That may be in part due to the fact that as a 6-year-old, an elderly barber accidentally cut a tiny bit of my scalp (I honestly doubt it broke skin), causing me to burst into tears like the whiny little turd I was (am), and my shocked mother to rush me out quickly to pacify me (buy me apple juice).
The words I spoke to the Hispanic lady who was about to cut my hair were short and sweet: “Not short please.” Only 15 minutes later, she removed my man-bib, patted me on the back and sweetly whispered into my ear, “Nice and short for summer.” What happened in the span of those 15 minutes was one long, uninterrupted cell phone conversation conducted entirely in Spanish, which, even with my utter lack of Spanish ability, was utterly depressing. Scattered among what sounded like gibberish were decipherable tidbits like, “Cómo se dice … unemployment.”
Meanwhile, I sat there, crying on the inside, not unlike my 6-year-old self. This time, however, she wasn’t piercing my skin, but rather, my heart. Helpless in my misery, or maybe too timid to do anything about it, I gazed at my stupid reflection in the mirror, watching this oh-so-conversational lady snip away, bit by bit, whatever shreds of attractiveness I attempt to hold onto. At that moment, I dreamed of the delightful romp “Beauty Shop,” but instead of Queen Latifah, I got a Latina Edward Scissorhands.
As I left Shmil’s, I feared for my well-being. I felt like something had been taken from me, stripped from me, nay, stolen from me. I had been faced with the choice to intervene and end this lady’s sad and incomprehensible conversation in favor of my own appearance, or to hide in the passivity of the barbershop chair, trusting that fate or this woman’s distracted fingers wouldn’t dare rid me of my boyish good looks. I made the wrong choice.
Walking toward Cross Campus, I saw people shoot me weird looks. One girl actually vomited. I mean, she could have. When I got to Bass Café, I asked friend and confidante Ethan Kuperberg ’11 what he thought of my new buzz. He looked at me puzzlingly, stooped down and responded, “You looking for your mommy, little fella?” When I told him it was, in fact, me, Will, his bud, he responded with a swift and biting, “LOL.” I have endured nearly ceaseless pain and ridicule since that afternoon, but I accept that it was due to my own pathetic inaction.
The shame has been hard, but I bear it as my own, like that searing “A” on Hester Prynne’s breast. Except hair, unlike sexual sanctity, grows back. At some point over the summer, I will regain my shining locks, and with them, myself.