First off, I am aware that the title of the post sounds like one of those bizarre sexual rituals that perverted 14 year old boys post on UrbanDictionary. My apologies for that. Second, this is a blog post about haircuts. Any men reading this blog should feel free to skip this entry. Go watch replays of the Chiefs rolling over again in the NFL playoffs. Like that was any big surprise.
I am ashamed to admit that I live in a state of fear here in Amsterdam. Not only of sustaining burns from rogue fireworks, being run over by the stocking carts of the Albert Heijn workers, or crushed by a Dutch woman riding her bakfiets whilst holding an umbrella, texting her friends, breast-feeding her children, and arranging flowers, all while cooking dinner on a portable stove. No, I’m afraid of a simple haircut.
This being the Netherlands and not the US, most places are independently owned salons or barbers. There are no chains, at least that I have seen. I have an issue with “mom & pop” barbers you see. For the root of this problem, we need to go back to my college days in Maryville Missouri.
The first time I wanted to get my hair cut in Maryville, I went into the barber closest to campus. MISTAKE! He used a flow-bee. One of those trimmers attached to a vacuum hose. Not pleasant. Next time I needed a haircut, I went to a place close to work. The barber there liked to talk about pickups. I told him I had never owned a pickup and knew nothing about them. His response? “See, the good thing about the new F-150 super duty cab is the fully boxed frame, which gives you better towing ability.” Sigh. I went back to him one more time thinking he had run out of truck discussion topics, but I was sadly mistaken.
I ended up going into a Regis Hair Salon in town. Regis is a chain. The Maryville location was filled mostly with 70 year blue haired women sitting in those weird hair drying chairs that look like they’re brain-washing their inhabitants. No matter. There I found a cute 20-something year old stylist who gave me a good haircut and smiled a lot. Bingo. My love of chain barbers was cemented. It sure didn’t hurt that she only charged me $8 for a haircut.
I’ve managed to avoid getting my hair cut in Amsterdam thus far. I was lucky to have a planned trip back to the US in late October, so I got my hair cut then. Ever since then, it’s been growing, longer and longer. On bike rides around the city, I’ve discovered a vast array of choices. There is a salon next door to C-1000 that charges €45 for a men’s cut. No thank you. There are quite a few near me that advertise “Black & European Hair” or even “African-American hair” (which begs the question, if you’re black and born/raised in the Netherlands, how can you be “African-American”?).
I cycled by a salon that looked like it was most recently decorated in the late 80’s, probably by somebody who worked on the set of ‘Saved by the Bell’. One place near my old apartment even had a red/green traffic signal outside that showed whether they had a chair available. A local barber is always closed during the day, but hordes of young men spill out of the place starting at 7pm. I think it may be a front for something.
You see, back when I lived in the US, a haircut was a simple thing. I could walk into my normal place (which had the words “For Men” prominently displayed in the title, sit down, and say “I’d like a #3 with no sideburns.” This is not to be confused with my normal order at McDonald’s, which was “I’d like a #3 with no onions”.
What if the terminology here in the Netherlands is different? What if the stylist/barber, who is a native Dutch speaker, mis-understands my English requests? Hair styles are different over here than the are in the US, so I don’t even know what to ask for. If I had a barber I knew I could trust, I could just say “Do whatever you think will look good”, but I don’t. Meanwhile, my hair is approaching Justin Bieber-proportions, so the pressure is mounting. Sometimes I just contemplate shaving my head, then I snap back to reality and laugh it off.
One thought keeps me sane: If I have this much trouble deciding where to get my haircut, thank God I’m not an unmarried, horny dude with a €50 bill wandering around in the Red Light District on a Friday night. I’d probably throw myself in the canal and try to swim home.