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Ric Latarski - Search for barber a hair-raising experience

OK, this is serious business.

It may not rival major heart surgery or trying to decide which liar to vote for, but it is as least as serious as hitting the 3-wood over water, picking out the perfect Christmas tree or finding just the right pumpkin for Halloween.

I'm speaking, of course, about the search for a barber. When you have been going to the same barber for a number of years and all of a sudden they retire, it puts you in hair peril.

You have a comfort zone with a barber who understands what "a little off the top" or "just even it up all around" means. These vague terms actually provide specific instructions once you have been going to the same barber for a long time.

Generally speaking, the difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is three weeks, but for those three weeks, you can walk around and look like a walking head of lettuce.

And rest assured, at the very moment you get the disaster haircut, you will suddenly have a job interview or be meeting a potential significant other for the first time, who will remember you as "the guy with the funny looking haircut that I gave the wrong phone number to."

Finding a barber is not as easy as you might think, because a lot of would-be barbers are now hair stylists who work in salons. I might go to a hair saloon, but I'm not going to a hair salon. Along with a haircut, at salons they will want to do your nails; real men do their nails with a pocketknife.

From what I have been able to determine, the main difference between a barber and a hair stylist is about $25.

There are other factors that come into play. You don't want a bald barber. If a guy can't grow his own hair, you need to be real careful about letting them cut yours.

You also want a barber that is clear of eye and steady of hand. A barber with poor eyesight can leave you with a head that looks remarkably out of balance, and since some of us already have a head that is out of balance, we don't need anything helping make it look more caddywampus.

And shaky hands can do a lot more than leave you with an uneven cut. The barber I had in my youth shook so bad toward the end of his career he would repeatedly go from one side of your head to the other in an effort to get an even cut.

You could start out wanting a flat-top and by the time he finished you ended up with a mohawk.

Barbers can also give you a shave or trim you beard, which is another reason you want one without the shakes or fading vision.

I always suspected Vincent Van Gogh was actually trying to give himself a shave but was shanking so bad as a result of being in an alcoholic haze he accidentally cut off his ear. You don't want a barber who drinks too much.

I know some people who shave their head on a regular basis, so they never go to the barber. The problem with this is that there are some heads which lend themselves to baldness.

However, there are others of us who have experienced situations which have left, how shall we say, impressions on our heads. It is only because of hair that these scars, bumps and lumps are hidden.

Some even say you can determine someone's character, personality and possible criminality by interpreting the bumps on their head. This could be why you never see a phrenologist hanging around Congress or the General Assembly.

While revealing these signs of youthful indiscretion may offer an explanation into one's personality, and perhaps go a long way to explaining why one acts the way one does, generally speaking, they are better left hidden.

Normally, we think of barbers as men, but that is not necessarily the case anymore. We have male hairdressers for women, so it is only natural that we have lady barbers for men, and there is no reason they cannot do a perfectly fine job.

I have no problem with a female barber, as long as she isn't bald, and they probably do smell better than male barbers.

One critical element of a good barber is the ability to talk on a variety of subjects without getting angry or making the customer angry.

This is especially important during election season. You don't want someone prowling around your head with cutting tools while they are ranting about some moronic plan a politician is espousing.

Being barberless can make things a little hairy - well, more hairy than they should be. I usually get five haircuts a year, whether I need them or not, and the time for my mid-winter trim has come and gone, so it is time for a major decision.

If I can't make up my mind pretty soon, I may be forced into a knee-jerk reaction and either go to a stylist at a hair salon or try to cut my own hair.

Come to think of it, ol' Vincent didn't look that bad with one ear.

Ric Latarski can be reached at ric.latarski@rockdalecitizen.com.