Shaggy Against My Will
I need a haircut. I've needed a haircut since I got back from Aruba. So why am I sitting in my apartment instead of taking care of the problem? The answer is simple--I don't know where to go. And for this I blame the American capitalist society, which has paralyzed me into inaction. With every passing day I look more and more like a member of the Bay City Rollers. Something must be done.
A few years ago a professor of psychology named Barry Schwartz wrote a piece in Scientific American called The Tyranny of Choice
(sorry, the full article isn't available online). Schwartz wrote that tbe dramatic increase in the choices available to Americans (in everything from cereal to mutual funds) has not corresponded to people feeling happier. As Schwartz writes, "Although some choice is undoubtedly better than none, more is not always better than less."
Think about it--you're having a cookout and you're sent to the grocery store to get mustard. Piece of cake, you think, until you walk down the condiment aisle and are confronted with a stupefying array of choices. Yellow mustard. Brown mustard. Dijon mustard. Mustard with horseradish, mustard with cracked pepper. Even within these categories some discernment is required. Yellow mustard is unlikely to offend anyone, but which kind? French's is perhaps the default yellow, but I greatly prefer Heinz's yellow mustard (when I can find it). Then you have to consider how much difference is there really between French's and the generic store-label mustard? Twenty cents saved, after all, is twenty cents earned. Are you being thrifty or a cheapskate? Jesus Christ, all I want is a squeeze bottle of goddam mustard!
I'm having the same problem vis-a-vis a haircut. There are two places within walking distance of my apartment, and since it was a beautiful day yesterday I walked to each. The first is located in a row of bunker-like offices that's so far off the road I can't imagine anyone ever finding it. The building itself is long and concrete and looks like a place the Departement of Defense would use to stockpile rifle ammunition. The windows were small and dark and I couldn't get a good look inside to see what manner of shearing goes on within. I passed.
I walked to the next place and saw to my dismay that in addition to getting your hair cut you can get your nails done and advice on cosmetics, etc. Again, pass. I don't have a problem getting clipped in a place that mostly caters to women, but somehow I doubt they get a lot of walk-ins with both an X and Y chromosome. Pass.
I walked home and did a Yahoo search. There are 25 different hair salons within 2.5 miles of my house. How the HELL am I supposed to choose between TWENTY-FIVE salons? What are the odds that, after emerging freshly-trimmed, I won't be overcome with buyer's remorse? The chances are good, very good, that after the stylist hacks and slashes at me I'm gonna come away looking pretty rough. So what do I do in six to eight weeks when once again I can't bear my hair and need a trim? Try someplace else? What if that place is worse? Go back to square one and accept a certain amount of follicular misery? Am I doomed to spend years wandering the desert, looking for that one person who can make me look not-hideous? I'm not even looking for sleek and stylish anymore. "Not-hideous" is all I ask.
Dammit, why are there so many barber shops and beauty salons and the like in this country? Shouldn't there eventually be some consolidation in the industry, shouldn't there be some mega-corporation that comes along and gobbles up all the Mom-and-Pop shops? I know the Wal-Mart near my flat has a salon, but I'm not getting my goddam hair cut in a goddam Wal-Mart. I would if there were no options, but so long as there are, I'll pass. And there still ARE options--Wal-Mart hasn't yet annihilated them. How do all these places survive economically? How can 25 businesses offering approximately the same service operation within a 2.5 mile radius of each other? I don't live in Hong Kong, there aren't THAT many people around here. The MBA in me keeps saying, This Shouldn't Be.
I gave some thought to getting some manner of crew-cut, shave it way down. The problem is that my head is shaped kinda...funny...and I'm afraid that if I did get it cut close I'd look like a Frankenstein. "That's fine," my friend Rick said last night over beers. "Halloween's coming up, when you go to parties you can just stick two bolts in your neck and you're done." Whatta pal.
It's after 4PM. My goal was to get up early, get a haircut, hit the library, cook the chicken I've had marinating. I did cook the chicken, and it was marvelous, but I'm still inside my apartment. I haven't ventured out. I grow isolated and depressed. And shaggy. I don't look good when I'm shaggy. I suppose I must risk all, lay it all on the line and go forth into the world, seeking a haircut.