Prude, Pragmatist, or Pervert?

I’m having a real dilemma after today’s lunch adventure in my new work neighborhood. I feel like I might be a prude of the worst order. But, then, maybe not. What happened today could simply prove that I am a pervert who doesn’t know how to deal with reality. Maybe I’m just, like, pathetic or something. I truly don’t know. Somewhere in all of this is some kind of truth. Maybe. If there is such a thing. All I know for sure is that what follows is the reality of my day. So here goes:

I went for a breakfast burrito at this place that some coworkers said is good. It’s kind of early for lunch, but late for breakfast, so the whole, big, sprawling strip mall is mostly empty. The company just moved us across town to a new office, and I am barely starting to learn where the eateries and whatnot are. We’ve been there three weeks, and, yes, I have found several places to drink beer, but the rest is mostly total mystery.

Anyway, I pull into this alien parking lot and find the burrito place. I park and am making my way in, when I notice a haircut place right next to it. Because of the recent move, my regular SuperCuts haircut place is no longer an option—and worse, I was already three weeks over due before the move—so sighting this place is serendipitous: SportClips! BAM! It has the same quick-cut ring to its name as SuperCuts does, plus the words are likewise conjoined, which indicates speed and economy!

!

So in I go. Nobody is at the counter, and there’s a vertical half wall blocking sight into the hair-cutting part of the place from the lobby. Obviously this doesn’t register as anything to me. Some random architects designed the strip mall; SportClips are just tenants. So, whatever. However, given this, there is nobody at the counter to check me in. SuperCuts always had someone who could see you walk in, since they didn’t have a half wall. At any of their locations. Of which I’ve been to many. Never a blocking half wall. So nobody came to put me in the queue.

There’s a dude sitting there waiting. Only one dude. I saw him through the window. Just one, though, or I never would have walked in (yes, I’m impatient). So I turn and say, “Hey, uh, do they, you know, check you in or something?”  There’s no bell to ring or anything.

“No,” he says.

Just that. Like, way minimalist. His head is down, so I see the top of it as he looks into his phone. His hair is kind of greasy, long strands that are thick and bound together by the oil, wettish, but still combed in this sort of weird, not-quite comb-over thing. He wasn’t old. Younger than me, by my guess. Early thirties, maybe. He wasn’t gross or anything, clean and wearing a button up shirt and slacks, but he had this inexplicable sort of trailer-park, sleaze vibe on him. Call me judgmental. It’s fine. Not a big deal. Not terrible or anything. But, I mean, we are human and we do that; we have instincts and stuff. Plus he was white, like me, and a dude, so I am still allowed to notice that stuff out loud in our society.

“So, did you get checked in?” I ask. “They know you are here?”

“No.” He’s still looking at his phone, gives only this super-short glance up at me, not even all the way to my eyes.

Fucking weirdo, I think.

“So, you just going to wait and hope they come out?” I say. “Is that how they do it here?” And yes, I literally said that word for word.

“Yes.”

Well shit. Sarcasm is supposed to jar people awake or something. However, I do have time to wait before I have to go back to work—I have a sales job and nobody gives a shit where I am or what I do. … basically, make quota or starve and get fired—but, I mean, how much time do I want to spend on this impromptu “number 2 all the way around” thing?

But fine. It’s weird, but I’ll wait. I’ll just sit here, because, well, when in Rome … etc.

So finally this chick comes out from behind the half wall. I figure it’s because she heard us talking (me talking, him monosyllabic). She’s hella hot. Great face, great hair, and acres of cleavage. And we’re not just talking regular cleavage. This is totally pushed-up and sculpted-for-awe-and-salivation cleavage. It was exquisite, a perfectly calculated 38.9% of her C-cups hoisted into view by someone with skills that can only be described as those of a tit engineer, an artist commanding mastery over both garment and gravity. It was fantastic. And just like that damned half wall, the sight lines afforded by her attire was no accident.

Which is fine. I love boobs. They are one of my favorite things. So a hot chick with insane boobage could be cutting my hair. I’m not pruding out at this point. More like actually thinking it sucks that I wear glasses and am blind as shit without them. Once I sit in the chair, I have to take off my spectacles for the haircut. When she goes to work on me, I won’t be able to gawk while she stoops and leans. I won’t see shit. I hate that. Still, I can always hope for the chance of a nice chance boob graze here or there—you know, a breast brush on an ear or shoulder or something. It happens. I became abundantly aware of this human delight way back when I was like nine and had a woman cut my hair for the first time. Any guy who says he doesn’t notice that stuff is a liar and will burn in hell some day. So, extra win for me, even if I have to watch her cleavage reflecting in the mirror through the fog of my gimp, old-ass, shitty eyes.

So, long digression aside, I check in after the buttoned-up creeper does, then I sit back and wait. She disappears behind the half wall.

I run two battles in Clash of Clans on my phone. Lost one. Now bored.

Facebook is a bust at 10:28 a.m.

Email, bust.

I look over at greasy, stringy guy. He’s in his phone totally.

I look around, start checking out the posters and ad crap on the walls.

“SportCuts, where it’s ‘good to be a guy.’”

That should make me feel good, frankly. This whole misogyny and “rape culture” thing that has overwhelmed our culture has us dudes feeling like demons for being born with the wrong junk. I get it; it’s payback for witch hunts and burkas, but hey, I didn’t do any of that crap. So, to have a haircut place celebrate dudeness should make me happy. But it doesn’t. It’s sort of, well, weird. I can’t explain it, but I … noticed it. Felt off.

At first I just kind of frowned at it. But it’s fine. There’s some pictures of dudes—like, “bro” dudes—but in their forties, laying back with rolled up towels around their necks or lain out over their faces.

The sign says “hot towels” on that picture. They used to do that stuff in old school barber shops, which catered to men too. So, I guess that’s cool. I mean, I just need a number 2 all around, but, fine.

I didn’t really read everything, just glanced past that and noticed. Still waiting.

My army hasn’t regenerated in Clash of Clans, so I can’t attack again. Stringy-hair guy isn’t looking up to be social. Welcome to America circa 2016.

I look around again. There’s another sign, something about the VIP treatment, and men being special, blah blah. I notice it now. Look around. It’s everywhere.

I’m like, WTF is this men-pandering thing?

Real men don’t need special treatment, so this is just weird. (Yes, I said “real” men. F- you if you can’t follow this). Everyone else in our society may need to be made to feel special, get special groups, congressional committees and colleges and caucuses, funded support programs, etc. But not men. Men, real ones, don’t give a shit about support. Anything that specifically is made to be “special” for men is either totally lame, totally racist/misogynistic, or … well, pervy somehow.

So I look to the half wall, past the TV—showing ESPN, of course—and for the first time pay attention to the price menu.

$24 is the entry-level price. “Haircut, hot towels, and shoulder massage.”

Yes. Shoulder massage.

I’m like, what … the … fuck?

Okay, first off, $24? I could get my “number 2 all the way around” for $10 bucks plus a generous tip at my last place—at every one of their locations, actually. So this price is already bullshit. And … a shoulder massage?

WTF do I need a goddamn shoulder massage for? And how lame is that idea anyway? Shoulder massages are seduction tools, flirtation devices. They are what pervy men give female co-workers under the guise of being nice. Shoulder massages from strangers are pre-perv moves, and every chick who has ever gotten one from a guy she didn’t like and didn’t encourage to do so has the shudder-response memories to prove how creepy it is. So I repeat: WTF?

So I’m in this sort of Twilight-Zone moment. I don’t want a shoulder massage from a stranger. Yes, she has great tits, and they are certainly carefully arranged so as not to be missed. My evil “male gaze” is completely invited here. But I really just need to get my bald-ass, monk’s-ring head of hair shaved down so I can go back to work without looking like goddamn Benjamin Franklin.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an option for that sort of simple shearing. Shoulder massage with towel and semi-intimate touching is the minimum commitment in this place. Twenty-four bucks.

This is where I begin to suspect that I am a prude or something.

For whatever reason, that moment felt to me like I was being forced to do something dirty with a stranger. It’s double the price of my last place … but with benefits. I felt like I was being used.

Yes. Prudish. And I will confess to having some of this same kind of sentiment toward spa treatment stuff anyway. I don’t want anyone “rubbing me down.” I totally and fully admit I am prudish in that regard. Or insecure. Or something. But that’s different, despite any coincidental similarities. For one thing, I for damn sure do not want some disgusting dude rubbing me down. <shudder> (Yes, makes me a homophobe in addition to misogyny). And even if it is a chick, she’ll either be as disgusting as any dude (making me shallow), or she will be hot, which would be worse because … what, I just lie there crushing down a stiffy like a Harley Davidson tipped over on its broken kickstand trying to pretend like I’m not turned on? Yeah, that sounds relaxing. Bring any of that on!

So, yes. Prude is the most likely scenario. I admit this is totally my issue. Therapy is probably a decent idea.

However, if I try to make the case for me being simply prudent and not merely a horrible human being, logic dictates that wanting to get my goddamn haircut in a simple and expedient fashion is not an unreasonable expectation, especially from a conspicuously hair-cutting establishment.

Can’t I just get a haircut?

Apparently, no.

I could probably have made a special request. I debated it as I sat there sort of having this weird crisis, realizing what I had walked into. I’d still pay the full $24, but requesting a simple number 2 all the way around, eschewing the towel and the hot-chick contact, would make me look and feel like a prude—not to mention make me feel stupid for spending the extra $14 while simultaneously opting out of the hot-chick rub down like a coward afraid to get caught by his wife or by a guilt-assigning society or something ….

But hey, half wall to hide your boner. Woot!

I guess.

I’m sure it’s nothing like that, of course. I am probably imagining it all. I watched the company video on their website before I wrote this.  It looks so innocent. All the girls are fully clad in modest uniforms. All chicks, sure, and not a plain lass among them, but yeah, it’s like a convent or something in terms of attire. So Our Lady of Perpetual Cleavage at the local establishment I stumbled upon was obviously deviating from the norm.

My experience was obviously an aberration. In my tiny amount of research prior to writing this, I did find an article referring to this company as the Hooters of haircuts. Which, again, is fine. (Apparently there’s another company called Knockouts, which is even more open about it’s program, which in a way, I think is way better. At least give a guy a heads up what he’s walking into.)

In the end, I don’t care what they do. I just think that it put me in a weird context, caught me off guard. Am I’m just a paranoid pervert afraid of being caught gawking and objectifying a perfectly innocent woman working at a company dedicated to serving men haircuts? Even if the experience includes being handled and massaged by women with half of their boobs sticking out? I really do feel like I should not have been bothered by that. Like, there’s something wrong with me for not just dropping into the human moment and allowing myself to be groped and fondled. I was supposed to want that. I mean, I do want that, biologically. I’m not gay. My stereotype says I am supposed to want to be touched by hot chicks, and I do. If Keira Knightley showed up with scissors, an open blouse, and a hot towel, I probably wouldn’t even be able to remember my wife’s name. $24 wouldn’t even cover half the tip. But it’s not the same.

Honestly, writing this about this place makes me  feel like I am ratting out my brothers or something. And worse, I feel like there actually isn’t anything to rat out. Just a sad admission of my Victorian lameness. I feel like a 2016 version of Arthur Dimmesdale, but with not even enough balls to let Hester rub my shoulders, much less make a baby with me. A huge part of me revolts at that and wants to be that Neanderthal in the video, lying back in the chair making embarrassingly lame small talk with the hot chick cutting my hair.

I’m probably a misogynist for thinking this stuff at all. Which is fine. I am exhausted trying to not be all the stuff I am apparently inherently guilty of as a white, male, heterosexual patriarch. All I know is that I looked at that menu board, saw the prices going up, the “services” going up, and then, when the door opened behind me and another guy came in who gave me that same creepy, trailer-park-in-a-suit-and-tie feeling, I just left. If I had stayed, there would have been three of us.

So, no boob graze on my ear or shoulder. No haircut. I am left only to wonder if I am a lame prude or a perv in denial. Or both. Or maybe I’m fine, and this is just prudence, financial as well as experiential, social, and even existential. This is me grappling with my biology and my sense of social justice, which has been, admittedly subjugated by a one-sided assault in the media since my unfortunate elementary years which taught me that America was great and the founding fathers were geniuses steeped in profound, liberal humanist philosophy. Now they are all evil, genocidal slavers, and I can’t decide if I should go back and get a massage and a haircut, or if I should start a protest to stop this outrage. Or apologize to my wife. Or … something. Anyway, that’s what happened.

Feel free to chime in. Try to be nice, but, whatever.

2 thoughts on “Prude, Pragmatist, or Pervert?”

  1. If you are a prude then I guess I am too. I’ve always been kind of creeped out by the idea of a massage, and Hooters is totally gross, so a haircut Hooters, ack. We have a Sports Clips here and it seems to do really well. I don’t think you have to apologize for how you feel. Different, um, strokes for, well, you know.

  2. I don’t know if this is fact or fiction, but I like the lens you viewed it through. As a fifty-ish “man” …one who constantly has to remind his “Super Cuts” hair cutting specialist that real men don’t use product or shampoo – my bar of Irish Spring has been sufficient for the last 40 years… I can identify with the struggle that you identified. The possibility of “morally legal” contact with another woman’s feminine attributes, while enticing, would also be another source of antagonism if my little missus should discover an innocuous gopher mound in need of mounting building.

    I don’t think I would feel perverted, I like women… That’s how I’m wired and I control it like any thing else… The same reason I don’t go to strip joints or porn sites… It’s insane to sit in front of a tantalizing buffet if you never plan or are able to eat.

    And yeah, it would be weird to sit in a room of other dudes knowing that their presence was probably because they were thinking the same or worse base thoughts as I was.

    Most of all… 24 buck for a hair cut? I would have bailed too 🙂

    Thanks for the story, John. You never fail to entertain.

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