Isn't it great to sit down in the chair to get your hair cut knowing ahead of time that you'll be pleased with the results? These days, I get great haircuts at Salon David in Orange County. It's quite simple: a little money exchanges hands, and in return I get an hour of great conversation, relaxation, pampering, and in most cases, come out feeling like a new man!
It certainly hasn't always been that way! My father was orphaned at the ripe old age of 14, and to avoid the orphanage (the year was 1920) Dad went to work for his Uncle Vito as an apprentice barber. Dad pursued the only profession he ever knew until his death in 1988, unless, of course, you believe the rumors about his being a bookie and that's an entirely different posting! Anyway...he worked across the U.S. and ended up in Hollywood in the 1940s...the frustrated wannabe actor who's claim to fame was that he cut the Three Stooges' hair! (They later thanked him for all the "close shaves"!) Today would have marked his 109th birthday - RIP, Dad...
As a child, it was the monthly ritual for me to sit on the kitchen high-stool and have Dad get out his "barber tools" and cut my hair. And of course, as I got older, I wanted it longer and he wanted it shorter! Talk about butting heads! LOL! And when it came to conversation, relaxation and pampering? Just remember - we had a 14 year old boy and his 67 year old dad. LOL! In fact, it finally got to the point where I was willing to invest my hard-earned money (I had a paper route and was working as a busboy) to get my hair cut somewhere else - just so that I could wear it the way that I wanted.
Of course, time passed, I got older, and I realized that my grumpy dad was only showing me his love in his own special way when he cut my hair. Not having parents to really guide him through the formative years of life, he learned to express his love through his work. One of his favorite things to do was visit someone in the hospital and cut their hair and give them a nice close shave...
I remember very clearly the day (back in 1984) when I announced to him that I had just become engaged to be married. Choked up - he walked over to where I was sitting, pulled his comb out of his pocket, and started combing my hair. I was 27 years old for Heaven's sake! But you know, for once in my life I kept my sarcastic mouth shut, and let him, in his own way, tell me how much he loved me and how proud he was.
A long time has passed since then - marriage, divorce, and of course, Dad's passing away in 1988. And yet, every time I sit in the Barber's chair (these days, they're called stylists), I think of my father's hands telling me how much he cared, even though he didn't know how to say it. And of course, I think of all the haircuts that I have received over the years - some good, some not-so-good; all of them eventually growing out and making way for yet another trip to the barber.
I'm over 50 now, and even today, haircuts are very special to me. They're probably one of the few times that I take time for myself and let others pamper me. They're a time for sharing and good conversation (if you get the right "stylist") and, as you sit there and look in the mirror, a time for reflection (bad pun).
These days, I reflect on my life's work as a real estate author, trainer and coach. As a former Mortgage Banker, I reflect on the craziness that is still going on in the United States as a result of the not-so-recent massive mortgage meltdown. As a middle aged getting-older-but-refuse-to-grow-up passionate person, I look at the gray hair edging it's way into my beard and reflect on life's beauty and frailty - how short life really is compared to how much there is to do and experience. And I think of my dad...
A pivotal turning point of my life came when I was sitting next to my Dad on his bed about two weeks before he died. He looked at me with sad, tired eyes, and lamented the fact that so many opportunities had come his way - opportunities that he'd ignored or passed-up. "If only I had"..."I should've..." "I could've..." As that great orator Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. opined, "The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities, which means that most men and women go to their graves with their music still in them.”
And with that thought, my haircut turns from a hum-drum routine into a ritualistic time of renewal...a renewal of my vows to live my life to the fullest, to love deeply and to laugh often, and to sing my song.
And that, my friends is the power of a great haircut!