Some people with blogs actively try not to write what are called haircut blogs, but this particular entry is interesting… I think… I hope.

Anyways, you might not realize this but I was blessed with Asian hair. It’s thick, coarse, straight and about as manageable as straw. I’ve been told even for Asian hair, my hair is really hard to cut and style. I never had a decent hair cut as child. When I was young, my mom would cut my hair and my sister’s as well. She’d line the bathtub with newspaper and then put a small stool down. We’d take turns sitting in the tub and get our hair cut. My mom would use a half-sharpened pair of utility scissors to cut our hair. She never had any experience in cutting hair, so invariably I’d wind up getting something that resembled a bowl cut. As a kid, it doesn’t really matter, so it was alright. The only reason she stopped cutting our hair was because one time she almost cut my off ear off. I was sitting there and she was cutting around my ear. One snip later and my mom started to be quite concerned. I asked her what was wrong and she said she had cut my ear with the scissors. I hadn’t felt a thing, but by that time my mom was already pressing the wound with some tissues. A few bloodstained tissues later and my mom’s haircutting days were over. She never cut my hair again.

My dad took me to a few places after that. These were your normal family joints. I bounced around a few of these, but again, as a kid, you never really cared that much about your hair. It was around grade eight that I settled on one establishment. It was called Fantastic Sam’s. The owner of place, a silver-hair gentlemen named Brooks starting cutting my hair. He was trained as a barber, but he had turned into businessman, and owning Fantastic Sam’s was one of his investments. He had done quite well for himself, but he still cut hair. Brooks cut my hair for about 10 years. All through junior high, high school, and part of university. Wow, that was a long time. He gave me the same haircut every time. He cut it as short as he could without the hair sticking all up. My hair grows really fast and that was the only way to make the cuts last. My hair didn’t really change style between the ages of 13-23.

Shortly before or after university, Brooks went on vacation and I had to get my haircut by another person at the salon (which by that time had changed name to Prism Hair Design). On that fateful day, I was assigned to a stylist named Mary-Ann. She was in her thirties, and she had pictures of her kids and husband at her station. She was your average mom with small kids. Mary-Ann was also an extremely nice person. Her haircuts weren’t really that different from Brooks, but there was an almost imperceptible variation in her method. It was enough that the next time I decided to get my haircut, I booked with Mary-Ann. I thought briefly about what Brooks would think, but I shook it off. After all, it wasn’t like he was depending on me to feed his kids… or grandkids. He owned the damn salon and several other businesses. However, when you change stylists at the same salon, it’s like breaking up with your girlfriend and then she sees you the next evening with your new girlfriend. Happily, when Brooks saw me the next time with Mary-Ann, he didn’t seem mad at all. He still said hi and to be honest, he didn’t have much of a rapport with me to begin with.

Mary-Ann cut my hair for about a year or so, but I became restless. I hadn’t never really gotten a haircut that I thought was “cool” or “stylish”. My cuts were basically utilitarian and functional. My hair wound up looking like a helmet more than anything. I don’t fault Mary-Ann or Brooks for it because hey, it was a damn suburban hair salon in Coquitlam. What else should I expect? The salon was frequented by families with kids, senior citizens, and blue collar workers. It never advertised itself as a trendy salon. From a realistic point of view, people went there mainly to get their hair shortened, not styled.

Well, it was 1999, and my life had turned into a mess. I was working for Cypress Solutions, and I absolutely hated it. For those who knew me back then, I was going crazy. I thought to myself, “I need to make some major changes”. So, I quit my job. It was at that time that Mary-Ann told me she was quitting the salon. It seemed like a good time for me to make a break there as well. For years I had always thought what it would be like to go to a trendy salon and get an actual decent fashionable haircut. When I was out at UBC, my family would sometimes go out to this Chinese seafood restaurant at Broadway and Heather. This place had huge windows that faced this salon across the street. They had huge windows as well, and I could see the people inside. They were all young and they all looked like they belong in a fashion magazine. There were no kids, no senior citizens, and no blue-collar suburbanites in that salon.

So, about a month after I quit my job, I said, “Screw it, I’m tired of getting the same haircut”. I pulled out the phonebook and I called the Axis Salon on Heather Street. I didn’t know who the hell they’d give me but I didn’t care. In a strange twist of fate, the phone girl booked me an appointment with a stylist named… Mary-Anne. Really! As odd as that was, I thought at least I was getting away from Coquitlam haircutters… little did I know that wasn’t completely true…


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