This picture was taken by someone who identified herself to me only as “Catwoman”.
She was my haircutter, assigned to me by the man in front, the man in charge of the throngs of haircutters in the subterranian basement/occasional-karaoke-bar that is Astor Place Hairstylists.
I asked her to take it, with my phone, for posterity’s sake. It’s an insecurity issue, I suppose. Every time I go for a haircut, I assume that my hair will never grow back, that I, like my uncle and grandfather before me, will lose my lustrous mane at an early age and withdraw into the true and irreversible depths of nerd-dom: the realm of male-pattern baldness.
Thus, I begged the woman who idenitfied herself as “Catwoman”–she looked round, petit, saucy and potentially Hispanic–to take my picture just in case such a thing might never come again.
She acceded and showed me the picture.
“You want ‘nother one?” She asked.
“No.” I told her dryly. “I think I have no one to blame but myself.”
As I contemplated running from the subterranian abode, fleeing from these people who so murderously wanted to steal my hair (For what purposes? To eat it?!), I realized as one must in one’s attempt to accept adulthood, that it would unbecoming to run from a haircut and so instead I spent the next half-hour or so being lectured on how hot showers were killing my hair because they opened my pores to the toxicity of New York and how they could give me a series of injections to cure my dry skin.
I left half-a-man, haircut-wise, at least, with a do that might seem Lynch-ian if it weren’t so damn jewy.
Still, it was a compromise and though Catwoman had spent all that time berating me, I was assured by my friends that it looked fine (though that dtill didn’t stop me from trying to hide in the bathroom with my PSP as soon as I got to school).
I meandered for a while. The school was playing people’s junior-movies and I thought Is hould stick around, though seeing an 8-hour-block of them last year was almost more than I could stomach. I got to see my performance played wide in my friend Beardo-Malone’s movie Our Friend Baldwin wear I play some sort of hipster-nihilist romantic-novelist writing a piece of historical-fiction set between the two Kennedy assasinations. I liked it, but it was still hard for me to watch myself on screen.
Particularly because the “me” on screen up there still had hair.
All-in-all, though the festival was better than the 8-hour block I’d seen previously, it was still clear that NYU was half-assing it in a major way, sticking it in another basement (the school’s) as opposed to their three-screen theater and having s guy make a lot of noise as he shoved unqueued tape after unqueued tape, loudly and visisbly near the screen.
But I had been in basements too long to hang around there, so I ended up meeting with a bunch of assorted non-school friends to go on an Odyssey to a place I had never been: Dave and Buster’s.
Now, I was familiar with the concept of Dave and Buster’s: it was Chuck-E-Cheese with beer. Such a thing sounded awesome for several reasons. If you were a kid, video-games and tickets hooray! If you were a parent, you could go get smashed while your kid did all that stuff, or better yet, get just smashed enough that you could try to crush them in their favorite video game. And if you were a hipster-nihilist post-teenager, like the bunch of us, you could enjoy both the video games of your childhood along with the new-found sousing your New York State ID that made the DMV guy laugh would allow you.
The problems with this theoretical explanation of Dave and Buster’s though became apparent in the practice. First off, it was crowded as hell. It took us about twenty minutes to get the bartender’s attention (who in her braces didn’t seem like she could legally drink), who then carded us for the second time, before declaring that it was happy hour and luckily our beers then would only be 9 dollars.
The second were the people there. Unfortunately, even though I had delineated three categories, I had excluded an unexpected category: parents who are close enough in age to their kids that they all like video games. Surprisingly, Dave and Buster’s as an arcade was far more ghetto than even the Mott St melange over at Chinatown Fair, my usual stomping ground. The most common patrons were Sean Joan and Rockafella-clad papis with their kids, taking turns playing DDR or looking to get in a little “daddy-son” time cheating on the skee-ball to get tickets.
I’m even pretty sure (though I didn’t get too close) that I heard some people fucking in one of the men’s room stalls. Jesus, man. Why can’t you just get a sitter?
I also underestimated the people I was with. While I enjoy the occasional game of DDR, I like to prescribe my nerdiness to certain places in my life. It became apparent very quickly that the only other people my age at D+B (other than the baby-daddys potentially), were people with stringly long-hair, the obese and the pimply; the very categories I had spent my whole life fleeing.
When one of my friend’s girlfriends kept on making sexual jokes to me and talking about how I was “awesome”, I decided it was time to go home for some Adult Swim and some sanity.
So I suppose the day ended well. Every time I get a haircut, I go through a period of insecurity. People cultivate images of themselves and it’s hard to look at yourself in the mirror and realize that right now people might see you a different way.
But then I take solace in the parts of New York City I can relish and am happy that though I may not be at my romantic peak, at least I’m not teaching my 8 year-old DDR with my beer in one hand and my mami in the other.
Give that one a few years.