I got the best haircut of my life last week. I tend to say this every time I go to a barber, but this time it felt objectively true.
In the past I have always chosen to go to barber shops for my haircuts. My parents took me to hair stylists occasionally but it never worked out. One of them pulled my hair and the other two I’ve seen operate out of their own homes which always seemed quite odd to me.
I’ve enjoyed the barbers I’ve seen in the past. One of them let me play Link’s Awakening on his old Gameboy Pocket while he cut my hair. Another loved hearing about what I’d learned in school lately. One liked to brag about all the famous people he was connected to, saying things like, “My friend knows the guy who wrote that book!” One had a Coke machine from the 1930’s that you could get a bottle from for only a quarter. Another place had the shop filled with action figures for kids to play with and homemade wicker bicycles for adults to gawk at. A few others had a TV in the barber shop always playing the History Channel or baseball as if those were the only two channels in existence.
I’ve been to a lot of different barber shops, not because my family moved, but because I have zero loyalty to any of them. While many of them did nice things for me, I never felt a lasting special connection to any of them. I did like the one who listened to what I’d learned in school, but I stopped going to that shop when he moved away.
Barber shops are traditionally located somewhere in a downtown area with that nice rotating pole out front to tell you what the shop is. They have the haircutting seats inside and a bench constructed from a row of old theater seats for customers to wait on. There’s a table or a rack of magazines and newspapers to choose from. If there isn’t a table or a rack, then the magazines inevitably occupy one of the bench seats. I have yet to find any exceptions to this stereotype despite going to around two dozen different barbers.
Recently, I have been visiting only Asian immigrant barbers. In high school I stopped enjoying talking to my barber when I noticed they weren’t remembering who I was. Why would I bother updating them on my life’s progress when they wouldn’t actually see progression over the different times I came to see them? I started going to barber shops run by foreigners because they didn’t have enough confidence in their English skills to initiate a conversation with me. Thus, I never had to politely answer the typical barber questions about my life as the Asian barbers wouldn’t ask them.
Which brings me to my haircut last week. In my typical fashion, I said I needed to get a haircut a month ago when my hair started getting in my eyes. I put it off as long as I could. I finally gave in by going to Supercuts instead of my typical downtown Asian barber because Supercuts is open until 8PM on weekdays, which is pretty convenient. Even better, the local Supercuts is also right by my grocery store.
I walked in at 7PM and made an appointment for 7:15 with the cashier (I’ve never seen a barber shop with a cashier). I did my grocery shopping and came back in time for my haircut with the stylist. She sat me down and this is where it gets good.
She actually asked me how I liked my haircut. Not the typical “long or short” bullshit. She actually asked about specific parts of my hair. Do you like it long on the sides? How would you like your sideburns? How do you like your bangs? Would you like the back to be square or rounded? Is this the right length?
FINALLY! A haircutter who knew how to actually please me with the haircut. I didn’t even notice that I was starting to have an enjoyable conversation with her. I walked away with the exact haircut I had imagined in my head. I’ll definitely be going back there again and asking for the same stylist.
That’s all for today!