There are few things I hate more than having my hair cut. I find the experience of watching a complete stranger wielding sharp objects around my head deeply uncomfortable. There’s something very alarming about a person radically altering your appearance in public while you sit there in a strangulating bib. I strongly suspect most men feel this way but it’s hard to be sure since there is no feasible way of introducing the subject into casual pub conversation. The person who figures out how to cut men’s hair in a way that doesn’t make them feel like helpless infantile buffoons will make a great deal of money. Eventually I will go completely bald and the whole nightmare cycle will be over. In fact, the more I think about it the more I suspect male baldness is simply an evolved escape mechanism.
Having your hair cut in your own country is bad enough but having it done in a foreign language with foreign gels and other mysterious apparatus is the stuff of nightmares. As it turns out, however, I’ve discovered there are several advantages to getting my hair cut in Poland.
In the UK it is becoming increasingly difficult to find men’s barbers. Almost the only places left that cut hair have become ‘hair salons.’ Walk through the door of a salon and you become the kind of man who has a ‘hairstyle’ rather than a ‘hair cut.’ This is all well and good if you’re a TV celebrity, a male prostitute or an Italian but for the rest of us the whole idea is deeply disturbing. My wife goes to a salon. She’s in there for hours and comes out looking even sexier than when she went in. Half an hour would kill me. Fortunately Poland is blessed with thousands of strictly men’s barbers. They are staffed by fat men with mustaches who learned their craft on the scalps of a million conscripts. It’s almost relaxing. Gel is rarely mentioned and the whole thing is over in less time than it takes to go completely insane by staring at your own troubled face in a mirror.
Men with hairstyles and a whole lot of other problems
The first time I visited my local barber he really went to town. Discovering I was a foreigner he assumed my hair cutting tastes would be highly sophisticated. I was in there for what felt like weeks. At one point he went through a bizarre ceremony of combing clippings out of my hair and showing them to me against the background of a pure white linen napkin. I had no idea what to say or even what I was supposed to be saying something about. Nice clippings? Well done? Is that my hair? He was a small man. So small he had to stand on a box to reach my head, which made me wonder why he hadn’t invested in a lower chair. That night I had a dream about a midget clothed in napkins running around on my brain with a lawnmower.
The next time I went the entire charade had been dropped. He buzzed through my ridiculously long hair in 10 minutes and never went near a starched white napkin. I would have kissed him if my bad back allowed me to bend down that far. On every subsequent visit chair time has been trimmed by a few seconds. I’m hoping that if I keep going long enough the actual time spent cutting hair will reach negative figures — I’ll become well-groomed simply by walking in his direction.
The Polish moustache: extruded from the face by pure effort
The male hairstyle is not big in Poland. Most Polish men go with the conscript buzz cut or a kind of limp 70s shag that sets off their porn star mustaches a treat. By putting in the minimum of effort I’m suddenly a sensation. In fact most Polish women regard the conscript buzz cut as sensational. I tell the hair cutist I want a ‘normalny’ and that’s enough to set me apart from 90 percent of Polish male heads. I am so sorely tempted to grow a mustache though.
The ultimate ‘buzz’ cut: astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the Lunar Module.