Half Empty, Since 1998

This is why I’m more committed to my barber than I am to any woman.

Commitment (Haircuts, Women & Cereal)

Scotty Ballgame. January 17th, 1999

I got a haircut today. Stop the presses, right? But hold on a minute. I got my hair cut today by someone other than Mark.

Mark’s been my barber for 13 years, ever since I was 10 years old. (That’s right, Pascal…that would make me 23.) Today, I went there for my 1:00 appointment and Mark wasn’t there. They told me he was sick, and would I mind if Frank cut my hair instead?

Frank’s the new guy. He came on the scene when one of their star barbers, Mike, defected to a new place across the street. My dad, who has always got his hair cut by Mike, goes there now. He likes Mike because he doesn’t need to really have a conversation with him while he’s getting trimmed. Not that Mike doesn’t try, but his Italian accent is so thick that my dad can’t understand what he’s saying anyway.

Frank’s a good guy. He usually jokes around with Mark and I when I’m there. His accent is pretty thick too, though not as thick as Mike’s so you can actually catch every other word or so. When I agreed to let Frank cut my hair, he joked, “You’ll actually get a decent haircut this time!”

Frank did a good job, and we managed to have a decent conversation too. I’m a good talker, in that I can usually find topics of conversation that the person can relate to. So we talked about pasta and the Mafia. I’m kidding. We talked about soccer, among other things.

It was a good haircut, at least as good as what I would have got from Mark, who leaves my sideburns uneven half the time. And yet…it wasn’t the same.

I’ve never considered myself a traditionalist. But after getting my hair cut by the same guy for 13 years, it seemed odd to let someone else do it. When they asked me if I would let Frank cut my hair, my first instinct was to yell, “NO! NEVER!” and run screaming from the salon. But I’m a nice guy and I didn’t want to hurt Frank’s feelings so I said okay.

It was a good haircut, but I missed the “buddy-buddy” talk I usually get with Mark. I was looking forward to rubbing it in his face that my Dallas Cowboys are in the playoffs and his Washington Redskins are watching it all on T.V. I was in the mood for one of his dirty jokes that he usually tells me.

Instead I had to settle for what most people take for granted, which is a good haircut. I guess I’m just greedy, but I’m used to feeling like sort of a celebrity when I walk in there and Mark shouts out my name from across the salon like I’m Norm on Cheers.

Before I left, I joked that Mark was probably not really sick. He was probably hiding in the back in embarrassment over his pathetic Redskins. We all laughed about that, but my laughter was hollow because the joke was wishful thinking.

Knowing Mark, he was probably hung over. How dare he call in sick on my day! Bastard…

Maybe I’m just crazy, but when I let Frank cut my hair, I sort of felt like I was “cheating” on Mark. Funny how I can be that committed to my barber and yet I can’t make a commitment to women.

Why can’t I make a commitment to women? Why do many guys have the same problem? I have a theory on this: “The Variety Pak Theory.”

Remember those “Variety Paks” of little boxes of cereal you used to take up to the cottage with you? Sure you do. It was a tasty selection of your favorite breakfast confections.

Well, guys want to live like that when it comes to women. They don’t want the same cereal every day, no matter how delicious it is.

Sure, at some point in my life I’ll have to settle down and realize that daily bowl of “All-Bran” really is the best thing for me (here’s hoping my future wife doesn’t read this) but until then I want “Corn Pops” today and “Count Chocula” tomorrow. Yeah, I know they’re bad for me. But they taste soooo good …

As for my hair? I prefer not to mess with that. I have one of those oddly-shaped heads where a bad haircut can leave me looking like an escaped patient from an institution for the criminally insane. Frank did a good job, but I haven’t been that nervous since I heard a rumor about an ABBA reunion.