In my lifelong search for the perfect haircut, I’ve tried many different styles and looks. Depending on the decade, these can wildly vary, but thing remains constant: I am almost never satisfied. And why? I believe it’s because of the Three-Haircut Rule. I’ll tell you the story of my last three haircuts to really show the theory in action.
I had just sat down in the barbershop chair with a photo of Patrick Dempsey on my phone when I suddenly regret taking my wife’s advice. My heavily tattooed barber/stylist/hair cutter person Ryan (female) asks how I want it cut. My hands are shaking with anticipation and self-conscious anxiety as I show her the picture of what I’m looking for. I then overexplain how I ended up with a picture of Patrick Dempsey and was just looking for a no-name person with similar hair, but this one was the closest to what I was looking for and how I’m not trying to look like the guy from “Grey’s Anatomy” and it’s just really tough for me to explain what kind of hairstyle I like, you know?
Ryan’s just happy my hair is similar to the picture. After the cut, straight razor neckline shave, and shoulder rub with those ancient vibrating robot barber hands, I get Ryan’s card. I’m pleased with my hair.
My wife was pleased with herself at the result of my haircut-by-photo experience, and I give her due credit. Deep inside however, I feel unsettled and wonder if this was step in a wrong direction towards a slippery slope of lost masculinity. Has the fact that I’m so concerned with my hair doomed me already? If so, I might as well do everything in my power to make sure it looks right. One small thing I can control in this chaotic life. I can’t guarantee I’ll get promoted at work or that my kid will go to Harvard, but I can make sure my wavy hair hangs just so over my ears.
One month later, I make another appointment with Ryan. I’m glad to be getting a worry-free haircut, but my comfort level is soon diminished when Ryan doesn’t remember me. I’m stunned and a little hurt. I have to mention the picture of Patrick Dempsey again and she asks to see it as well. “Oh yeah, I remember.” Reliving the picture moment was not on my agenda for the day. I thought I was done with it forever and I curse my wife under my breath. The haircut goes quicker this time and doesn’t look quite as good as last time, but I thank her for a job well done and head out. After a couple of days I notice that it definitely not the same. I chalk it off to her being busy that day and hope the next time will be better again.
One month later, I make another appointment. This time things unravel in a hurry. I’m in and out in 10 minutes. Her heart’s just not into it.
And thus, for about the millionth time in my life, have I been a victim of the Three-Haircut Rule. The first haircut is great, the second one’s OK, but then on the third, there’s a noticeable shift in care and it’s simply not good. The three-haircut rule has been a problem my whole life.
You see Ryan had gotten just too comfortable with my routine appointments and wanted me out of there for an easy buck.
When it was finally over, my OK hair and I head out. Mainly, I’m glad I didn’t have to show her that damn picture again. The next morning I notice she didn’t trim the hair behind one ear and left a bit of patch on the back of my head. Annoyed and knowing that I will have to find another barber, I first make an appointment with Ryan one last time to get my accidental avant-garde haircut fixed. She’s apologetic, but definitely more annoyed than anything else that I have come back in. After a quick fix, I thank her and leave.
As I head back out on the cold streets in search of a new barber, I pause and cringe at the thought of having to share that picture of medium-length wavy hair again, and I decide right then and there to never do so again. A cowlick on my head flaps gently in the cold breeze, as I think to myself, “Hair be damned, I’m at least going to have my dignity.”