A bald man sat at a little island in the front entrance. “Hello!” he said.
“Hi, how are you?” I asked. The pizza was still settling in my stomach, but at this point I was on autopilot.
“Great! How are you?!” he asked. He was very, very friendly.
“I’d like a simple buzz?” I said, but kinda asked. As I did so, I raised my eyebrows* to signify that I was new at this whole unisex salon thing and I wasn’t sure if I was being completely ludicrous with my minimal request of a buzz cut, like Lindsay Lohan walking into a liquor store and asking only for tonic water.
*The last time they would be raised in their full glory.
“No problem!” he said, alleviating my concerns. “What’s your name?”
“Youngman,” I told him, craning my neck to his left and right and seeing no other customers in the store.
“Great! We will call you when it is your turn, Youngman!”
I sat down, picked up a magazine and began flipping through the pages. Despite the complete lack of customers, I flipped through the magazine for five minutes before I was called.
Perhaps this was a good thing, for it allowed my brain to regroup and shake off most of the food coma. While I turned the pages of the magazine, my brain finally began thinking in the annoying way that it usually does. I realized that the front desk man wasn’t just friendly, but also super-super gay. I then began wondering if I had ever met a gay guy that wasn’t friendly, and I realized that I hadn’t. Maybe the ones that were unfriendly were not comfortable about coming out as gay? It can be difficult for some people because of the opinions of their loved ones on being gay. Then I assured myself that somewhere out there, there unquestionably had to be at least one homosexual man who was unkind. And then I thought about the gay guys in American Horror Story who were evil, and it made me feel a little bit better that there were at least fictional gay people who were mean. Then I thought about the fact that this man was bald, yet manning the front desk of the place where I was going to get my haircut, and I found that to be an interesting thing to note. And then I thought about how I was a judgmental asshole because the first thing I noticed was the fact that he was gay, and as a writer, the first thing I should have noticed was the ironic fact that he was bald. But then I remembered that my first judgment of him was that he was nice, and I didn’t feel bad anymore, and everything was okay.
And then I took a deep breath and shook my head, wishing that I had the last five minutes of my life back.
Perhaps the most disturbing fact about this glimpse into the way that my brain works is the fact that I still cannot remember what magazine I pretended to read. Nor do I remember if their collection of magazines even contained Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, or ESPN The Magazine — a fact which would have verified the claim of their sign that dudes were welcome.
A woman stood above me with her arm extended. She intended to shake my hand, but hers was rotated 45 degrees downward, which seemed to suggest that she was beckoning me to take her hand so that she could bring me with her. As if to say: “I know this might be scary for you, but just come with me. I’ll keep you safe and everything will be okay.”
“I’m Tracy,” she said with a glistening smile. “Right this way.”
She sat me in a chair, where she spun me to face myself in the mirror. As she covered me with the smock, I took note of her workstation. It was pristine. Not only did everything seem to be in its proper place, but the station itself reflected her personality. Neatly pasted on the mirror were pictures of her and her family. A placard hung on the wall that read “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.” On the counter stood a jar that read, “Ashes of trouble customers.”
From just a brief glimpse at her workstation, I saw that she had a personality. And believe me, she damn-well lived up to it.
“What can we do for you today?” she asked, meeting my eyes through the mirror.
“Oh, just a simple buzz,” I explained. “I use a Number 1 the whole way around.”
“Okay, perfect!” she said.
She started clipping. I closed my eyes and eased myself into the chair, expecting a haircut that would take no longer than it would take for three contestants to crack the code of a Wheel of Fortune puzzle.
But then something strange happened.
“So are you all ready for the weekend?”
I opened my eyes to see her standing in front of me, awaiting my response.
“Oh, no. I actually work at the casino. I usually get my weekends mid-week.”
“You work at the casino!” she exclaimed, as if she just realized that I was a celebrity. “My girlfriends and I were just there last weekend!”
And that is how it began.