For several years, my dad rented an office space owned by a man he somewhat affectionately called “Hack Boy.” Hack Boy owned this dated barber shop just a street over from Main in our little town. The barber shop itself was small, only holding a few chairs for haircutting, but the building was a bit bigger, housing two small, rentable office spaces and an upstairs apartment. Those lucky enough to visit the office spaces got to pass through Hack Boy’s hair studio, featuring ghastly taxidermied animals and that classic old person smell. The furniture was all from the eighties, unquestionably.
My dad filled one of the office spaces and made it as cozy as one could, given the entrance. The Invisible Fence dog training company occupied the other space, and a random single guy lived upstairs. I wouldn’t call the group a community in any way, and when Hack Boy eventually sold the building, I don’t think anyone was too disheartened to go. My siblings, mom, and I were definitely relieved to no longer be spending time in the place with a creepy dead raccoon staring at you as you walked through the door and the smell of disinfectant seeping through the walls. My dad moved into a lovely third-floor office on Main Street and all was well. I don’t know if anyone had heard from Hack Boy since. Until yesterday.
Well, sort of. I’ve been “rockin'” the undercut on and off for a couple years now, and yesterday morning, I decided it was time to get a fresh buzz. Normally my best friend and “wife,” Marta, gives me a buzz, but she’s currently abroad. So I decided to have a “professional” cut my hair instead.
My new home in Colorado Springs is literally 50 yards from a barber shop — one of those classic shops with the swirling red-white-and-blue poles out front. I considered checking it out, since I try to go local whenever possible. Who knew? Maybe I’d meet a new neighbor and strike up a friendship. Looking back, I admit that this was all a very romantic idea.
I realized earlier in the week that the shop is only open Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 — exactly when I work. I figured I’d just have to hit SuperCuts. But then yesterday, as I was approaching my house after a run, I saw the barber shop lights on and the Open sign up. Perhaps the barber had changed his hours? Maybe I was in luck. So I went home, ate some breakfast, and headed right back out the door to the barber shop, making those 50 yards full of anticipation.
I regretted it immediately upon entering. The interior of the space was so reminiscent of Hack Boy’s studio, it was laughable. The fluorescent lights beamed down on decrepit chairs and magazines from decades ago. Front and center, seated in a barber’s chair, was Hack Boy 2.0. He was wearing red-tinted sunglasses and a leather jacket, placidly watching paid programming on a dinosaur of a TV box mounted in the corner.
“Hi,” I said nervously. “Are you open today? I was hoping to get a trim on the side of my head.”
“Well, of course. I’m always open Monday through Friday.”
“Right…but it’s Saturday…”
“It IS? Man, am I confused! And here I was, thinking I was running late this morning…”
“…Haha, yeah, well… would you be willing to give me a trim? If not, it’s really OK.”
“Yes, I mean, I’m here, aren’t I? Let’s see…I’ve just never cut hair like yours before…I mean…not in a while.”
Why did I sit down? I think I still had this lingering hope that he’s a seasoned barber, he’s got to do a good job, right? He took a handful of my hair and a clip and tried to pull it back. He made a sort of lopsided bun, unsuccessfully, a number of times before he gave up and simply pushed my hair to the side. I prayed that his hand wouldn’t slip while buzzing my undercut and chop off all of this hair hanging loose. There seemed to be no turning back now.
Let me first start this by saying this haircut usually takes Marta all of 5 minutes to do. We stand in the bathtub or outdoors so as to not get hair everywhere, take a sip of beer, she buzzes me, I check it out in the mirror, I may ask her to touch up a spot or two. The end. This man proceeded to take 40 minutes. FORTY. Not only did it take him literally eight times the number of minutes, he also used what felt like seven different electric razors. I felt myself sweating, dreading a look at my own reflection.
At long last, he handed me a mirror. It wasn’t as horrible as I expected, but my hairline was a mess, and there was still a patch of hair at the back of my head standing straight up.
“What do you think?” he asked hopefully.
“Well, do you mind cleaning it up a little over here? And here? And maybe here too?” I replied cautiously.
He was definitely ruffled by my request. Lacking the confidence to buzz close to my part, he just decided not to — and left it a nightmare. As I glanced down at my watch, I realized I was running late to meet a friend in Boulder and couldn’t stand it any longer. “That looks good enough. Yeah, that’s fine. I really have to run…”
He puffed a sigh of obvious relief. “Alright, well I’m not even going to charge you,” he responded, petting my hair in an uncomfortable, too-friendly fashion. Now I was creeped out. “Oh, really, you don’t have to do that, I can pay…”
“No, really, it’s fine. This was practice for me, so I couldn’t charge you.”
Practice. He really called my haircut “practice.”
“Well thanks a lot, I’m off–”
“–the next time you come in, I’ll be sure to–”
“–Yep, take care, have a nice Saturday!”
Needless to say, I am never going back. I also went to SuperCuts today to fix the damage that the Hack Boy of Colorado Springs inflicted. I suppose you can run, but you can’t hide.