So I got a haircut yesterday. (Yes, my life over here is really so exciting that I’m writing about a haircut today.) Since I joined the Army, haircuts have become a frequent nuisance. For whatever reason, my hair grows pretty quickly, so I have to get it cut every 2-3 weeks or I end up looking shaggy. Back in the states, this led to a couple of different strategies over the years. When we were in Augusta, it usually meant waiting an hour or two in line at the barber shop in the PX. (Not the most exciting way to spend your day off.) Eisenhower, my hospital in Augusta, actually had its own barbershop. Unfortunately, the main barber for most of my time there was an elderly gentleman with an intention tremor. (A medical condition where you hand starts to shake whenever you try to reach out or control where it’s going.) This made for some terrifying haircuts and I generally steered clear due to a fear that I might come out without intact ears.
At Fort Leonard Wood, I learned the hard way that the PX isn’t the best place to go for a haircut. Leonard Wood is a major training post for the Army, so there are usually a lot of trainees hanging around, which I’d never thought much about until I tried to get a haircut on the weekend there. When I entered to the shop, I found that I was the 250th patron in line!! Needless to say, I quickly found a barber shop off post that could handle my hair without camping out for 5 hours. (On a side note, the barber shop that I found actually serves beer in their waiting area, while still being cheaper than the PX barbershop. I haven't ever been in a situation where I could take them up on the offered beer, but it's an interesting business model none the less.)
Back in the day, I used to cut my own hair using a set of clippers. I’d do the top and the sides, and then do the back the best that I could. Then, I’d get a roommate or fraternity brother to touch up the back and make sure I hadn’t missed anything. Now that I’m married to Cristin, we’ve been working on reviving that, but it hasn’t happened consistently. Cristin does a pretty good job, but she’s still not fully comfortable doing it. (And, as you might expect, a nervous barber makes for a nervous customer.)
I’ve noticed an interesting trend about haircuts since starting my deployment. The further I get from home, the cheaper the haircuts get, and the better quality they are. At Fort Gordon’s PX, you never quite knew what you’d get. It wasn’t uncommon for them to cut my hair, only to need to go back 2 days later and touch up a few spots on top they’d missed. (I still don’t understand how barbers can do a haircut that looks perfect in the chair, only to have little missed spots pop up a day later.) Moving to Ft. Bragg, haircuts were slightly cheaper, although about the same quality. Now, out of country, things keep getting better. Since arriving here, I’ve gotten a solid string of great haircuts, and it’s only $4.50.
Of course, there’s a cost for everything. In this case, it’s the fact that your barber often doesn’t speak much English. So, you hope that a couple of the 10 words of English that they speak include “close fade”, “skin” and “number 3 on top”. For the most part, they get it pretty close. And, even if it’s not exactly what you asked for… it’s still better than what I got at Ft. Gordon.
The Super Bowl’s tonight (at about 2:00 AM). I’ve tentatively decided to wake up to watch it. We’ll see how the motivation is when the alarm goes off.