Wednesday, March 31

Give Me All The Pomade You Have.


It took me until about the age of 20 before I realized that you could get your hair cut at places that were stationed outside of a mall. As a man that didn’t pay attention or care too much about the quality or well-being of his hairstyle, I had always just gone to the easiest, cheapest place.

For the better part of a decade, this destination was exclusively Cost Cutters.

Going to Cost Cutters deep into in your teen years feels similar to the last few Halloweens you celebrate before you start to become acutely aware of your age. You begin to take notice of the clientele around you; notice the relative age of the stylists versus the customers. Once the realization hits that maybe you should start frequenting a different barber (say, the Master Cuts by the Aqua Massage kiosk, perhaps), it feels akin to being naked in public. All you want to do is disappear.

I remember the last time I ever set foot in a Cost Cutters. I was alone, reading a magazine in the red-and-yellow waiting area (it always looked like a McDonalds in there), when a grown man came shuffling through the door. He looked to be in his mid-to-late 40’s, wiry-thin with glasses and a ragged outfit on.

Hello,” he said to the pre-teen working the counter. “Is Sarah working today?

I’m sorry,” she replied, “But Sarah has the day off.”

Good,” the man muttered back, turning slowly to his left to reveal a massive bald spot that was seemingly gouged out of his scalp by accident. Presumably by Sarah. He took a seat next to me and exhaled deeply.

He was defeated. He didn't care. He was me in ten years.

Without making a scene, I gently set the Store Copy of People magazine on the table and hit the road. It had been a decent enough relationship, but at that moment, I knew that Cost Cutters and I were officially through.

I go to a real barber. The best part is near the end, when the combo of warm lather, then a straight razor cut to shape and also get rid of the stray hairs, and then a hot towel is placed on the back of your neck. And there's manly talk about the Twins and Brett Favre and hockey. It's about as manly as I get - except when I listen to metal.

PS - Did you get the liner notes?
I used to go to the same small town barber in my old hometown until well after college. He wasn't exactly a great barber but it was always comfortable and I basically got the same haircut from age 2-24, interspersed with an attempt to grow a ducktail in the early 90's. It was a Cost Cutters in Middleton that broke my hometown habit, when I desperately needed a trim but didn't have time to head down to the folks'. My tenure with that Cost Cutters only went a year or so as that branch closed. I now patronize another strip-mall haircutting establishment, but it's a fancy strip-mall and a fancy salon-type place.
My stylist just moved to Texas, and I am sad.
I did the Cost Cutters/Great Clips dance for years, too. I don't think I got one good hair cut while going to those places. It wasn't until I discovered an honest-to-goodness salon (the lady word for barber) that I finally found people who could cut my unruly hair in a fashion that actually, y'know, looked good. It's been awesome, if a touch more expensive, ever since.
I generally hate getting my haircut and have tried to find a good barber but have not. Well, that's not true -- I found a couple good ones by my first house, but now that's 100 blocks away so I'm not going there. Lately I've been going to SportsClips, which is like CostCutters or Great Clips but they have ESPN playing on TV's by the chair and (if you pay for it) they will run a massuage machine on your back. A friend told me about a good one downtown (where I work) so I'll try that next time.

And I'll throw in a link to my other favorite blog -- they have written about this subject a lot!

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