Fifteen years ago, I started paying to get my hair cut. That's when my dad got sick and was no longer able to do it for me. He didn't always give me the kind of haircut I wanted when I was a kid, but I still let him do it because, after all, he was my dad, and a licensed barber, and we lived for a few years in the back room of his shop, and I didn't have much choice. The older I got, the more he cut it the way I asked, and the less he was inclined to whack it down to the skin, hand me a jar of butch wax, and send me out to play in traffic.
For the last few years of his life, I could pretty much count on him to give me the kind of haircut I asked for, even if he didn't like it (and let it be known to all that he didn't like it). So it was with some misgivings that I first took my business to the haircutting emporium in the mall. And I've been going back to the same place for the last fifteen years, even though approximately half the time I'm disappointed with the result.
I never know until the next day whether I'm going to like the haircut. After washing my hair the next morning and combing it out, I can tell what's going to stick out in which direction. Sometimes it works for me, and sometimes not. I think it cost seven or eight dollars when I started, and now it's sixteen. I used to give the stylist a dollar tip. Now I give her two.
All of which is to say that I'll wake up tomorrow morning and take a shower and drag the comb through my hair, and only at that moment will I know whether the sixteen dollars (plus two) that I spent this morning was worth it. One consolation is that it will almost have to be better than the mop of silvery straw that's been blowing straight up with every gust of wind for the past couple of weeks.