Friday, January 02, 2009

How I Came to Finally Get My Haircut in Lincolnton: A Saga Told in 5 Posts

I got my haircut in Lincolnton the other week. And while I’d like to tell you all about it, there’s some backstory that I feel like I need to share and due to the saga-like nature of my tale, this will take 5 posts.

I think that there is a general misconception about me and my hair. I think that people think that I fly to New York City to see Oscar to get my haircut because I am a snob. Because I don’t think people outside of New York City can cut hair. Because I get off on going to see a celebrity stylist. But the fact of the matter is that none of that is true (in fact - the whole celebrity stylist thing is a major pain in the...). The reason I fly to New York City to see Oscar to get my haircut (and I will take a moment here to clarify: I don’t fly to New York City to get my haircut. I fly to New York City to see my family and friends, to attend weddings and 90th birthday parties, to celebrate holidays and attend reunions. The haircut is just extra) is because Oscar has been cutting my hair for roughly 17 years and because I trust him and because it’s not easy for me to suddenly change – especially where my hair is concerned. The last time I had to find a new stylist it took 2 years and I suffered through countless bad haircuts (both the style and the experience) before finding someone I trusted and liked. That someone was Oscar. Here’s the story:

Growing up, I got my haircut by Nick the Barber. Nick did an ok job (he even managed to salvage my hair when I was about 6 or 7 and decided that I wanted to transform my naturally curly locks into a Kate Jackson/Sabrina Duncan/Charlie’s Angels bob and attempted to do so myself with a pair of child’s scissors and a comb) but he was a barber. For kids. And as I approached my bat mitzvah (read: womanhood), mom and I agreed I was ready for something more grown up so she took me to her stylist, Glenn. Glenn worked at Kenneth Salon, a posh place in the East 50s that catered mainly to grande dames of Park Avenue society – frankly, I have no idea how my mom wound up there. But she had been with Glenn for years and I had no objections.

I forget how long Glenn cut my hair – 2 years, maybe 3. But then he retired and eventually died and mom and I were faced with the challenge of finding someone to replace him.

I once asked one of my male friends once where he got his haircut. “Wherever is open,” he answered. That notion seems unfathomable to me. A different person cutting your hair every time? My relationship with my hairdresser is pretty much like my relationship with my shrink or my gynecologist – it’s built on trust over an extended period of time. It’s not a revolving door.

That’s why finding someone to replace Glenn was such a challenge. The first person we went to was the woman who worked next to Glenn at Kenneth. I have no idea what her name was but I do remember this: it was the longest haircut of my life. Seriously – she took at least an hour and that was just for the CUT. That didn’t factor in the wash or the blow dry. I am my mother’s daughter in that I prefer efficiency. I like things to be speedy and quick – not sloppy, but efficient. Even when Oscar cut all my hair off (I was 19 or 20) I don’t think it took him more than 15 minutes. And while there are those who would argue that for the money one pays Oscar one should have his full attention for at least 30 minutes, I am relieved that he can cut my hair and cut it well in less than 10.

Anyways, after the hour long haircut, mom and I left Kenneth for good and spent the next 2 or so years bouncing around from salon to salon, stylist to stylist. There were referrals from trusted friends and family members. Names we’d seen in magazines. You figure that we were getting our hair cut every 6 – 8 weeks so that’s a lot of haircuts. It’s also a lot of stress. A lot of not knowing what to expect. A lot of nervous anticipation. In short, it was painful. After the stability of Glenn for so many years (at least for mom), this inability to find someone we liked and trusted was driving us crazy.

To be continued…