Confessions of a Barbershop Slut

I’ve only had one long-term barber relationship.  I was 19 and filled with the arrogance of your average college football player.  Mr. Wilson was much older but understood me in ways no one ever had.  There was never a need to tell him how I wanted it cut – he would have ignored me anyway.  Mr. Wilson cut it the way he wanted and it was always better than my ideas.  I gleefully visited him at the prescribed times knowing that compliments would flow from my contemporaries later.  Graduation day was bitter sweet – I moved more than a thousand miles away and never saw him again.  I don’t really like talking about it.

Every barber since has been chasing the memory of Mr. Wilson, and there have been many of them – my number is higher than I would like to admit.  Scores of one cut stands, a hnadful of 4 or 5 cut flings, but nothing proved lasting.  It wasn’t that I was unable to commit, I told myself, but that no one met all of my needs.  So I shamelessly flitted from barber to barber. 

There was Tony who always wanted to remake my hair in his image; I would return to him on occasion when whatever barber of the moment was unable to squeeze me into his schedule.  Jason always took too much but he was such a good conversationalist.  Almost two years ago Flip became the closest thing I’ve had to a steady since Mr. Wilson.  He was pretty good – just not quite right – but our relationship was strong enough that we could communicate about our problems and it got incrementally better each time.  Then he left me for another shop and none of his colleagues knew where.

With no Flip, I started seeing Wayne for a few cuts.  They were from the same shop but Flip left me – I rationalized.  Not more than a month ago my friend, Lemon Gloria, wrote about the relationship problems she was having with her stylist.  When I commented about the virtue of hair fidelity, I secretly knew the karma of my whorish ways was going to exact some comeuppance and soon.

When Flip returned to his old chair, I went back to him without condition and barely registered the hurt in Wayne’s eyes.  Apparently barbershop sluts, like me, quickly develop immunity to the jealous glares of an ex as another set of scissors touches our hair because I felt nothing when I said hello to Wayne.

This most recent Saturday the darkness of my promiscuity was met by the light of retribution.  I strolled into the shop and nodded hello to Wayne even as I settled into Flip’s chair.  He delivered on the progress of all cuts past and gave me the perfect haricut.  I’d finally found someone who filled the void Mr. Wilson had left all those years ago.  I stood, admired his work in the mirror and then Flip said it.

“Refugee, I love having you here.  You’re a great customer and a great tipper too.”

“Flip, I feel a ‘but’ coming.”

“Yeah, I’m not happy about it; but I can’t see you anymore.”

“What are you saying; you don’t want to cut my hair any more?”

“It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s that I can’t.  It’s creating too much tension in the shop because of Wayne.  He sees you as his client; and I can’t be the guy who interferes with relationships.  I have to work here everyday.”

I didn’t protest – I wanted to leave with some dignity – but I left a bit troubled and with knowledge that my whorish behavior had cost me relationships I valued at the same moment I was finally ready to commit.

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13 Responses to Confessions of a Barbershop Slut

  1. Lemmonex says:

    I was a hair dresser skank for years until I reached the promised land. it was a tough road, but I finally got on the straight and narrow.

    The worst part of this rejection is that I now have to start all over again to find the something reasonably approximating the one.

  2. LiLu says:

    I’ve had more hair-dresser one night stands than I can count… finally, I think I’ve met The One Who Will Tide Me Over Until I Leave Her Standing at The Altar For My Hair-Soulmate. It may be a relationship based on comfort, but at least she’s surrounded by a dozen gay men and always got an interesting story to tell.

    A stylist with benefits?

  3. Liebchen says:

    It took me what felt like forever (but was really only a year and change) to find someone I liked in DC. Before that, and even when I was away at school, I’d schedule my hair appointments to coincide with whenever I was back home in Philly. Man, long distance is tough.

    Believe me, if I ever won the lottery I would have flown to the old college town to get a cut every so often. Sadly, I learned that Mr. Wilson passed about ten years ago.

  4. Fearless says:

    Good to know it’s not just women who have these problems.

    I think we all struggle to find the one.

  5. laloca says:

    my mother’s favorite hairdresser is in rio. she still visits him when she’s in town on business.

    you could try roi, of salon roi (the marilyn monroe mural on conn ave, at woodley park). he’s a sweetheart. and a very good hairdresser, as well.

    thanks for the tip, I’ll look into it, but I prefer barbers over stylists.

  6. Sara says:

    I feel the same way about dentists. I don’t like strangers in my mouth but have yet to find one I like and trust enough to drill so I keep playing the field.

    Sara, too… many… jokes… brain… overloaded… with… snarkasm… must… reboot.

  7. kjohnsonesq says:

    My stylist is the lone straight man of the girly haircare world. Plus, he has ADD and he scares me with the scissors. But he gives great hair and so, I will never stray. It’s all about the fidelity.

    If this is true, then I have probably thrown back beers with your guy.

  8. f.B says:

    I’m incapable of trust. And it’s not because my hair needs special attention. It’s because my needs are so basic and yet so often unfulfilled, that I just get it wherever I can.

    f.B. there is hope out there, you will find the one if your heart is open.

  9. its always RIGHT when youre ready to commmitt!!! rrrgh…
    admittedly im a bigger hair whore than “regular” whore…which is kinda like “whoa” …but NEVER in the same salon…ballsy…
    xoxo

    or at least that is what we commitment phobes tell ourselves.

  10. I ditched mine for a mechanical device. (This comment also appropriate for posts on women who ditch one’s boyfriend for dildos).

    No flowbees for me, that is a bridge too far.

  11. ella says:

    isn’t it funny how attached we can get? and i nearly refuse to go to a stylist “blind date” style. i must be set up, recommended, or have heard about them in some way. there are too many wackjobs out there (pun intended).

    Sadly, my barber blind dates have gone as well as my romantic blind dates.

  12. Capitol B says:

    A barbershop slut and a cashmere whore? What’s next?

    Thanks so much for the comment on Capitol B! I have spent a chunk of my afternoon reading The Restaurant Refugee and have happily found a new blog to love. My home page even says so – right under Blogs B Loves. Alas, I scored a meager 69 points on the Would We Get Along quiz, so sadly I’m not up to snuff as friend material. But, I’ll be a reader at any rate… (contemplated for a moment slipping in an LOL there, just to see how you would react, but I’m just not capable of the transgression) Love your writing style and your sense of humor! ~B

    Thanks for your very kind words. In answer to your question, I am also an antique watch wench, a cuff link trollop, and a pen tramp.

  13. Lisa, I somehow accidentally deleted your comment – because I am a klutz. It was pithy, and funny, thanks. Good luck with trying to rekindle the fire with your stylist.

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