Sunday, April 6, 2014
This Friday I had some extra time after work so I decided to get my haircut. I used to be militaristic about my hair-cutting routine, now not so much, but when I saw that rotating barber’s pole, I figured why not? I’d been to the place before and gotten the best haircut I can remember when I was there, so I was glad to be going back, even though the price was a bit much, about $24.00 per cut before tip. It’s one of those shops with the flat screen TVs and plush waiting area chairs and all the free extras after the actual cut. The receptionist asked for my name and I said, “Brian.” When she asked for my last name, for some reason, I said, “Brian’s fine,” and she said, “Um . . . OK.” I have no idea why I did that.
Less than a minute later, a blue-haired woman in her mid-twenties came to get me for my haircut. I followed her to the shop behind reception. As we walked to her chair at the far back right, we walked past the guy who gave me the greatest haircut ever. He was reading a book in the chair at his station. I should’ve dumped the girl and gone with my guy, but I didn’t. Before sitting down, I told my stylist I would remove my glasses so they wouldn’t get in the way, and she weirdly said, “Oh, will you be able to see your hair in the mirror?” I laughed then said, “Yeah, I’ll manage.” There was something in her tone that hit me kind of funny. Now keep in mind, I was dressed up because I was coming right from work, and I’m not one of those bozos who do casual Friday, so I definitely looked the part and fit the mold of their client class. We were off to a strange start.
After inviting me to sit down and wrapping the cape around me, she introduced herself: “I’m Brandy” and I said, “I’m Brian,” and began describing what I wanted. After rambling descriptors a few seconds, I said, “Some people call it a taper cut,” and she snapped, “Uh, I know what a taper cut is.” This threw me for a second, but I recollected and continued telling her what I wanted. Then, unbelievably, she rolled her eyes at me, and that froze me mid-sentence. I sat back in the chair and glared at her through the mirror as she stood behind me. Finally she said, “Uh, we’re you saying something?” and I shook my head then, to my own amazement, began unhooking the cape, and said, “Get this thing off of me,” and she snapped right to it. I threw the white strip they wrap around your neck on the floor, stood up, and walked out without saying a word. I walked right past the manager and receptionist, who both watched me in disbelief, and I was gone. “Brian” had left the building. No last name. No record.
In that ten-second time when I was glaring at her through the mirror, I asked myself: Do I want to sit through a half-hour haircut with this woman then pay $30 bucks for it or do I just get up and walk out? I chose the latter and off I went. I’ve never done anything like that before. And I can only wonder what the boss said to her after I left. If he had followed me outside, I would’ve said, “I forgot I had an important appointment” and kept walking, but nobody followed me, and they had no idea who I was, which was fine because I had no interest in getting her in trouble. She was just a kid. She’ll figure it out or she won't. Who cares? On that day I was simply “Brian,” the untraceable white whale. But I bet my little friend Brandy will talk about the day some guy just got up and walked out without a word, and maybe she knows why.
Last night we had a party for the NCAAs and I told this story to a friend of mine, and he told me that I HAVE to go back to this barbershop. It’s a MUST!! Of course I assumed I’d never go again, not because I’d cut ties with any business over something so silly but from shear embarrassment on my end. But this guy told me I had no choice. I had to find out if they'd remember me and roll the red carpet out upon my return. He told me if this barbershop manager was any kind of manager at all he’d recognize me and perhaps even wait on me himself. I argued the place in question probably sees a hundred heads a day, so I doubt I’d stand out, but I’m suddenly and strangely intrigued, and wonder if they would recognize the return of “Brian,” the guy who refused to give his last name, and maybe this boss would push the receptionist aside, and say, “I got this one.” Then, “Brian, get in that chair.”
Or would he think that I had planned this whole thing out and that's why I didn't give my last name or phone number? I'm sure he went right to the receptionist for a record and she reported I'd been entered as just "Brian," and perhaps he smelled something funny and forgot me. I know she thought it funny when I said, "Brian's fine."
I think I need to know. I think I need to go back. And if they have no idea who I am and the same blue-haired barber comes to fetch me, I'll flip the waiting room magazine into the air and walk out again. Bet they'd remember me then. Bet they'd never forget "Brian" after that.