The Haircut

I received a haircut today, the first in two months. It was a few weeks overdue. My hair is losing its presence on top and my forehead keeps pushing my hair line back. Hair grows thick and heavy on my sides and back, and still falls in waves of curls. The whole thing can become an unmanageable beast, fighting me about what I want it to do. It won a few times this week. I finally acquiesced to a growing need to deal with it.

Part of my reluctance is the pandemic protocols. We’re in a small town. Not many barber shops, salons, and stylists are among the businesses. Our town is oriented toward college students and tourists, translating business needs into drinking and eating establishments – pizza, restaurants, and beer, wine, coffee, and pastries. Scattered among them are gas stations, grocery stores, clothing boutiques, and bookstores.

Places catering to hair are less frequent. Almost all closed on Sunday and Monday. Most close early on Saturdays. The windows to get a haircut get perilously small. Pandemic closures meant less people working in these places. Appointments are the norm, and they’re precious. I was turned away because nothing was available at three locations in the course of five attempts spent over three days.

An appointment for a haircut. That blows away my youthful memories of walking into quiet establishments, taking a number, and waiting ten to fifteen minutes. In my military days, aka my youth, I had more hair to cut and more frequent needs to cut it to meet regulations. But the prices were better. In the beginning, we’re talking $1.10 for a haircut. Slowly it went to two dollars…five…ten…

Today, I spent $30 with a tip to trim my silvery locks and tame my curls. But I put the $30 haircut into context with coffee. I used to spend fifty cents to a dollar for a cup of coffee. I spent $4 on a cuppa today. Filling my car with gas cost six dollars for a time back then, compared to the fifty I just put out. Yeah, bread was two dollars a loaf, and it now runs $7. It was white bread back then, and now it’s multigrain, and I buy it cheaper at Costco, which wasn’t around back in those days. Cat food was a quarter a tin. Now it hits a dollar each. Hell, I remember spending $7,000 to buy a new Firebird, an expense that took a deep breath to decide after hours of calculations and days of mental wrestling. Good luck finding a new car, loaded, for seven grand these days.

I’ll just put in a mention about real estate. We bought our first place for half a million dollars. Family, still used to lower prices, were stunned. It wasn’t a large place, a sixteen hundred square foot condo, three bedrooms, three baths, two car garage, three stories. My family was more astonished when we sold that place after a few years for three hundred grand more than we paid. I was astonished, too. That was almost twenty years ago.

Context. It all costs more now — houses, cars, air fare, food, clothing, and yeah, haircuts. I look good, though. Young Megan, probably in her twenties, did a good job.

I think.

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