Haircuts, Part 2: Acceptable Sams

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child … but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

The day came when my parents decided that I had outgrown the Maddens and that I needed to get haircuts in a more adult environment. (What I believe actually happened was that Lisa Madden raised her prices from “maybe worth the emotional damage” to “definitely not worth the emotional damage.” I think they sold it to me as a growing-up coming-of-age thing to give the pitch a little more zazz.) The adult environment they chose was a place called “Fantastic Sams,” which featured adult accouterments like a television constantly playing Winnie the Pooh and a magical machine that transformed children’s hair clippings into cheap toys. Well, toys really isn’t the word; “toy-adjacents” is probably more appropriate. If you already had a toy, these items could maybe make the existing toy more fun, but no one’s had fun with a standalone rubber ball since the Great Depression.

But I was an adult, and I was ready to get my hair cut like an adult. So I, an adult 10 year old, chatted amicably with my Sams-appointed stylist Hyo about how she liked her job and how her son was doing. Y’know, because that’s what you do when you’re an adult–politely pretend to care about each other’s lives. All this took place while Hyo was styling my hair into a combover that could best be described as “severe, even by Hitler’s standards.” A completely undoctored photo of this combover appears attached to this post.

I kept this combover hairstyle for a very long time. From about, the womb until I was 15. No one ever told me “hey Kevin, it’s time for you to change up that hair” or even asked me, “have you ever thought about doing literally anything else with your hair?” I figured if it was that crucial, somebody would fill me in. No one ever did, ergo, I kept combin’ it over. Using a colossal amount of gel. I imagine that Hyo assumed that if I wanted to change up my hair, I would have asked about it. It’s a good assumption. I was laboring under the idea that telling an adult hairstylist how to style hair was kind of like telling da Vinci to maybe think about tossing a hat on the Mona Lisa or informing Michelangelo that he might want to definitely have his David statue be circumcised because that was kind of a big deal to the Jewish people historically. I came to discover, however, that holding a beautician’s license from the state of Ohio and being one of the fathers of Western art are somewhat different and come with different expectations about critiquing one’s work.

In my freshman year of high school, I somehow realized that the 1940s Dutch Schoolboy haircut had lost a bit of its cultural panache among my fellows. I honestly don’t remember how I came to this realization. The nearest that I can remember was that I was walking through the hallways at my school and realizing, “a lot of people have haircuts that don’t look remotely similar to mine. That may be a problem.” So I went to Hyo, and I said (paraphrased), “Hyo, I really respect your craft and artistry, but I think I may need to style my hair forward from here on out.” (This is definitely a paraphrase because I didn’t learn the word “style” could be a verb until late college.) I threw away my comb and only styled my hair with my fingers, and I completely ditched the gel. I was as unadorned as possible. Hyo still always asked me if I wanted her to put some gel in my hair after she cut it. Because of our past history, I always, always said yes, I guess because I was an adult, and that’s what you do when you’re an adult–lie out of anxiety and fear. But I had learned a valuable adult lesson–you can change your hairstyle. I learned this lesson so well that I kept the brushed-forward hairstyle until I was 23.


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