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6:33 a.m. - 2005-01-14

A TEN CENT HAIRCUT


When I was a wee lad, my grandpappy would sit me on his knee and then call out for me to come sit on his knee.

"Grandpappy," I'd say. "I'm right here. I'm already on your knee."

"Ah yes," he'd chortle. "So you are. Where's your banjo, boy?"

"I ... I don't have a banjo, Grandpappy," I'd say quietly, half anticipating the beating that usually followed such a boisterous remark.

"NO BANJO?!?" Grandpappy would exclaim. "What the hell do you plan on putting on your knee to let everyone know that you're from Alabama?"

"We're not from Alabama, Grandpappy," I'd say all frightened. "This is Illinois. We're no more from Alabama than we are from Guam."

"I see," Grandpappy would say, stroking his imaginary beard while in semi-deep thought.

Hours would pass as Grandpappy stroked this imaginary beard and I sat still on his lap, terrified of his next outburst.

"Never pay more than a nickel for a haircut!" he'd finally yell, loud enough to wake the cows.

"You got it, Grandpappy," I'd agree. "Six cents is way too much for a cutting of the hair."

"You're goddamned right, boy," he'd snort. "Goddamned caterpillars don't know shit about cutting hair no way."

At that point, I'd usually slowly remove the moonshine jug from his death grip and sneak off his lap while he sat snoring in his rocking chair on the porch.

As you can see ... life was pretty tough for me when I was 19.



Fast forward a few years and here we are ... me with a complete fear of paying more than a nickel for a haircut.

This unrelenting grip on my psyche has resulted in some pretty shitty haircuts over the years.

But last summer, a new hair salon opened up in town and passed out free haircut coupons in order to drum up business.

Susie managed to finagle two coupons.

I used the first one last summer when I had them shave my head. With Grandpappy's words ringing in my head, I knew I had to get my money's worth.

Wednesday night, I used the second ... and final ... haircut coupon.

As I drove over to the place, I seriously contemplated having the ol' noggin shaved again.

It had been seven months since my last haircut. But in my defense, I had been shaving my head for two of those months. And one of those months was only half a month. Figure in showers, work and sleep time and technically, it was 20 minutes since I had a haircut.

Alas, the weathermen were so excited about a cold front coming through that would "finally bring winter to our fair state" that they were whacking their man meat live on camera. I figured if they were so excited that they were masturbating on live TV, it was about to get rather chilly out and it would be in my best interest to at least leave some hair on my pointy head to keep my skull warm.

I arrived at the haircut place at 5 p.m. and there were three guys in front of me.

Doing the math, I deducted that it'd be five minutes before I was in a chair.


Ahem.

FORTY FIVE FUCKING MINUTES LATER I was called to come sit in a chair.

It seems that at this new haircut place every time a customer is finished the three women cutting hair take a ten minute break or some crazy shit.

At the 35 minute mark, I came SOCLOSE to just handing another guy my free haircut coupon and telling him to "have one on Grandpappy".

But I didn't. At 35 minutes, I was too damned tired to do anything about it.

So I sat and watched some billiards tournament on ESPN2 for 45 minutes because this haircut place is all about having a sports theme.

Yeah!

Come watch alcoholics try to beat the shakes long enough to hold a pool cue!

Not exactly my idea of fun.

Anyway, I get called to come back finally and the girl shakes my hand as she introduces myself.

I notice that's the protocol in this place ... the hairdresser must shake everyone's hands.

I work for a doctor's lab.

I KNOW the perils of continuous handshaking.

Germs are spread quickest by handshaking.

I'm not quite Howard Hughes yet, but I have developed a small phobia about keeping my hands clean lately. Especially during flu season.

But ... not wanting to come off as a complete freak, I quickly shook her hand. It was more like slapping palms than shaking hands. But I did make human contact and for that, Grandpappy would be proud.

She sits me down in the hydraulic chair and asks me what I want out of this haircut.

I say "Cut it to where it's about an inch long all around."

Which means "Cut everything but an inch of hair off my head."

Better yet "Cut about five inches off my head all around."

Simple instructions, right?

Well, apparently Little Miss GermGerm didn't hear me right.

Granted she was WAYYY stuffed up in her sinuses which I wanted to tell her was a result of her shaking everyone's hands and then feeling up their heads all day long. She was spreading more germs than a piss-soaked toilet seat in Grand Central Station.

But the end result was NOT what I had asked for.

It was TEN TIMES BETTER.

People, I have NEVER had a better haircut than the haircut I am sporting right now.

I'd give you a pic, but I have got bedhead out the ass today and no photo at this current time would do it justice.

Suffice to say, I am looking damned good.

Almost ... sexy.

And it was FREE.

While I wanted to complain that she hadn't cut enough hair off ... what she had done with my hair was sculpted it with the finesse usually reserved by Italian artists.

I gave her the free haircut coupon as my payment.

And to make Grandpappy proud, I even tipped the woman.

A whole nickel.

I'm just spreading the joy one person at a time, baby.


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