I moved very near to the Castro recently. It's a very nice place to live, but I sometimes feel like I'm missing out on a lot of the geographical benefits by virtue of my heterosexuality. Everywhere I go, there are tens of nice, handsome, well-dressed men, for whom I have no sexual interest. It's like an orthodox Jew moving to a beautiful neighborhood made entirely of bacon and ham hocks, albeit a pork-based neighborhood with a stellar array of restaurants, and used clothing stores.
If I'm not going to enjoy any hot hot gay sex, the least I could do, I figure, is get a decent haircut. With that in mind, I went out Saturday in search of a barber, nay, a stylist. I found a man named Ross, in a comfortable upstairs salon that had been converted from an apartment. Ross was from Boston, and he immediately put me at ease with his charming manner and professional confidence. I'm used to the suburban Supercuts experience, where one's semi-literate haircutter boasts a GED and a certificate from a cosmetology night school. Ross had not only gone to college, but he had opinions on literature, music, and comparative regional living experiences, based on culture and climate.
One thing that Ross seemed to respond to right off is my newfound fatalistic approach to a haircut. I have no confidence in my own ability to choose a flattering hairstyle for myself. If in doubt about my coiffure, I will generally just put on a baseball cap. Only recently have I overcome my fear of styling products, or, more accurately, my fear of using a pomade or hair gel that will confirm to observers that, yes, I intentionally made my hair look that way.
I don't know what I want. I don't really know what looks good. I'm willing to put my appearance in the hands of a professional, someone whose entire income derives from knowing what will look good on someone like me. So I simply throw up my hands in surrender, hand over the keys, and placidly accept whatever haircut they choose.
This doesn't seem like a completely crazy approach. No one has to make specific orders for these kinds of services in other places. I don't go into the doctor and request certain antibiotics or throat culture analysis. I don't pick and choose components from the service pack when the IT guy comes to service my computer. I simply lean back, throw the I Ching, and trust in their professional judgment.
I think it paid off this time. I paid off, at least, a much higher haircut cost than normal along with a handsome gratuity. Still, I think that getting a shampoo, meeting a guy like Ross, and feeling like a human being made it worth the extra money. The true litmus test will come in the opinion of The Ladies, but I may need to stroll across the park to the Haight to gauge that one.