I started going grey in my late 20’s. It was my hair’s way of telling me to grow up. I chose to ignore these requests, and have worn a messy, uncombed sort of mop top for close to a decade. But when the greys started coming in in ALL CAPS, my childish Beatle doo began resembling a gloomy haystack. It was time to get an adult haircut.
Based on a suggestion from a recording studio message board, I rode my bike down to Joe’s Barber Shop in Logan Square. The screen door opened to reveal a cramped, cluttered room. I took a seat in the one available chair between a guy wearing identical shoes to mine and a growing Mexican boy. Five feet in front of us two men worked the two barbershop chairs. The older man was the owner, and his awards decorated the wood-paneled walls shared with ‘85 Bears and ‘84 Cubs team photos. The younger guy sported muscle car muscles, rockabilly tattoos and a grizzlying beard. They worked on a guy my age and a younger Mexican boy respectively.
I worked on writing until the rockabilly barber gave me the nod. I took off my free Miller Lite snowcap to unveil my matted nest hairstyle and took a seat.
“So what do you want to do?” he asked.
It had been four months since my last cut. It was obvious to both of us that the shagginess in the back and on the sides needed to go. That much I knew.
But I’ve always had unnecessary difficulty when communicating with hairstylists. When I was a kid my parents would give me money every couple of months to walk to Fantastic Sam’s. There I would receive some type of haircut. Then I would take the haircut home and mess up to where I thought it looked good enough for me.
This continued until one day in 1995. I had seen a picture of Beck in Rolling Stone, and I really liked the way his hair looked long. At the time I had been growing mine out, but it wasn’t really working. So I carefully ripped the little 1”x1” picture from the music magazine and brought it to SuperCuts. The girl behind the scissors didn’t really know what to do with the tiny, crinkled clipping and my big mushroom of sad hair. Especially after I told her I wanted it short in the back but wanted to keep the length I had. What I ended up with was two haircuts. A normal looking one in the back, with a long one on the sides. It looked like I had hair curtains that were obstructing the view of a normal haircut. Eventually I went home and cut the curtains off and restored it to my mussed-up liking.
Another 14 years went by.
“So what do you want to do with this?” the barber asked, referring to the top of my haircut.
From there we went to Mixteco Grill to celebrate St. Valentime's Day. The chef is a Rick Bayless ex-pat, and we enjoyed his refreshing ceviche, followed by Lauren's pork chop in a tangy mole, and my roasted lamb in an earthy dark mole. My mashed potatoes were delicious, but Lauren's sweet mashed potatoes were the best I had ever tasted. With a bottle of red wine split evenly in our satisfied bellies, we looked and felt great.