I have just done what I believe is one of the most terrifying things a man can do. Sod snowboarding for the first time last week or an other extreme sport, this is far more terrifying. I just went to get my haircut somewhere I hadn't been before. Men will know that this sort of thing can be the life or death of you. Not literally. Just in the way that you might look like a dick for a couple of weeks due to an either over adventurous chopper who places everyone in the ideal of the Shoreditch twat or instead the old grumpy man who asks you what you'd like and then ignores it and gives you a crew cut as that's how everyone had it back in the day. Then there are all the fears you might gain from possible conversation topics that are forced upon you as you're all but tied to a chair with only the scissor wielder as your company for an hour. Add to that the possibilities of not caring whether you have hair in your eyes, washing it without you asking or just holding a razor in the way that says that under their tshirt they have a necklace made of ears.
I have, over the years, been quite lucky with such things. My two favourites were the one I've just had to depart due to moving flat - a lovely lady from Kiev who told me tales of the old USSR whilst handling a razor blade like an assassin and wearing leather trousers. I felt as though John Malkovich might enter at any minute, challenge me to a game of cards and make me down vodka while she trimmed my sideburns. Previous to that there was an excellent South African lady in Camden who despite cutting my hair exactly how I wanted it, she once told me that the only type of comedy she really liked was when people got hurt, then proceeded to pick up a rather large pair of scissors. I never went back. Both of them though managed to provide a decent level of banter before allowing me to stare at my own puffy tired face as its furry frame became increasingly smaller and more designed. This is both my favourite and least favourite part of getting my hair cut. I like it because when I leave I know I don't have to look at my face anymore against my will. I don't think it helps that I can't pull faces without throwing the barberian off their stride and possibly hindering my own haircut, and if I can't pull faces then my cheeks settle into bored miserable look which no one needs to see for any length of time. I could smile, but again, who wants an overly happy client sitting in their chair? No one. It just looks weird.
Today I ventured past a place called 'Broadway Hairdressers' that appeared to have no one in it at first. Its windows adorned with pictures of people who are probably now in their 50s and 60s, and the cutting equipment sitting on the side as though part of a museum exhibit. I was already put off by the fact that I was starting to believe it wasn't open at all and just kept alive for historical value, but then a very creepy old man emerged looking at me as though he was startled by the sight of another human after all this time. I also saw his hair which was a mess and I turned on my heels and left. I eventually stumbled on a place where the two cutters looked like characters from Streets of Rage or a cheap 80's action film. One very small wiry Oriental man and one huge muscle faced Dutch guy. At any moment I expect the words 'FIGHT' to appear above my head and I'd have to Scott Pilgrim the fuck out of them. Luckily this didn't happen. Instead neither spoke much English so chat was wonderfully limited, and I sat back, stared at my stupid face and the smaller guy snipped away with reasonable results. Except that my sideburns are unequal so I won't be going back ever.
Life can be so stressful.