Twas the night before Christmas (well, almost) and instead of a stable I was looking for a haircut. A brief scene-setting here. My mostly receded hair – check my profile – alternates between scraggy bits at either side or a full on blade cut crop, usually self-administered with a home shaver. But this being Christmas and all that, I decided to treat myself. In the centre of Dublin to meet a few friends ‘for a pint’ (btw this is a euphemism – you never ever meet for ONE pint), I was early for once. So walking through the city centre I spied a barbershop with three guys and one girl cutting, and just one guy waiting. So of course I decided the odds looked too good to pass up, and in I went.
I got a nonchalant ‘Howya’ type look/acknowledgement from the guy nearest the door as I plonked my bum on the comfortable sofa to wait. I should point out that I come from a well-established school of male hairdressing where you walk in, sit down and get in line. Silly old me. The second guy cutting asked me ‘Was I Richard’? I demurred. Then a kid came in and sat beside me. Frankly he didn’t look like he needed a haircut at all, but the third guy cutting hair (aka styling) caught my co-sofa dweller’s eye and said ‘Mike – we have you in for six o’clock, yeh? I felt a slight chill as realisation dawned. I had wandered haplessly into a den of Hipsters.
I looked around, like a deer shading it’s eyes in the headlights. Everything fell into place. The girl – a Unisex salon. The Three guys cutting – all elaborate tattoos, beanie hats (but cool ones), converse sneakers, drainpipe trousers. Hipsters all. The phone calls and checking the computer – evidently people actually MADE APPOINTMENTS to come in here. Worse, the demographic. I reckoned I was literally twice the age of anyone else in the salon (I now knew this was no barbershop, despite the stripey pole), or indeed likely to come in there (unless it was to make a phone call to say they’d been mugged on the street). Finally – the cuts. Hard to describe, but less about cutting hair than shaping it and sort of caressing it into a coif (is that a word?) atop artfully shaped sides. Oh and did I mention that everyone had a beard? Apart from the girl, obviously. Even I would have seen that giveaway.
So there I was, stuck in the headlights and weighing up my options, which were few. What a predicament. The choices? Make some really dumb excuse and bolt for the door before the peals of mocking laughter caught up with me? Or stand and fight for my values and my citizen’s rights? Well you’ll be glad to hear I hung in there and went with plan B. I asked the guy with the dinkiest tattoo winding all around his neck if they could ‘fit me in’ for a number one blade cut, confessing what they all obviously knew, that I didn’t have an appointment. He graciously said ‘they’d look after me’ – I decided not to ask if this was mostly an act of Christmas charity or a straight commercial decision. I suspect I got a few bonus points for the decisive way I said ‘number one blade’ in a macho kinda way, as in usually i’d use an angle grinder, but it’s Christmas…
And thus it was that I was in and out of the chair in seven minutes flat with my hipster-styled number one blade all-over crop. A happy ending just in time for Christmas. My friends (of a similar age to mine) sympathised over that one pint (and the rest) and applauded my courage under fire. I’m half-tempted to go into the salon again around (say) May – when I get my ‘Summer cut’, to see if they remember the ‘mystery man’ who appeared that one time, never to be seen again. The Hipster Hairdressing salon must remain nameless to avoid legal complications, but I’ll be looking in their window every time I pass by to see if my tattooed mates are still cutting (sorry, styling) away. An episode to remember.