The Hamilton Spectator

Next time, it’s the full mullet

But for now, I’ll keep telling Joe ‘just a little off the top’

- PAUL BENEDETTI Paul Benedetti lives in Hamilton. He teaches journalism at Western University.

Recently my wife interrupte­d me while I was pretending to do some work on my computer and asked, “How do you like my hair?”

Apparently, she had been to the hairdresse­r — again. I looked up and noted that her hair looked pretty good, glossy and neatly trimmed. “Nice,” I said. “But, I thought you just went to the hairdresse­r.” “Ugh, whatever,” she said. This is a touchy subject because I once actually looked at our VISA statement (Whoa! I won’t do that again. I was in bed for a week) and noted that my wife spends about $14,000 more a year on her hair than I do. When I gently pointed this out to her one evening, she began to explain and then thought better of it and just hit me over the head with a cheeseboar­d that happened to be on the table.

I learned a great lesson that night: buy a smaller and lighter cheeseboar­d. And also, I realized that most guys really don’t think about their hair that much — unless you’re a game show host or Stephen Harper who has to make sure he gets his hair rustproofe­d once a year.

For example, most guys get their hair cut about every four or five weeks, usually if someone reminds them. How do you know it’s time to get a hair cut? A good sign is when your head hair and back hair form an uninterrup­ted “fur carpet” on your neck. This is a common look among older men and not a good one — unless you’re a badger.

Most guys I know go to a barber, the same barber

If I said, let’s trim up the top and leave the sides, I’d look like Bozo the Clown, thus aligning my haircut with the impression people have of me.

they’ve been going to for years. And they get pretty much the same haircut they’ve had since their 20s. Why their 20s? Because, if you’ve stuck with the haircut you had in your teens, you now resemble an aging male Charlie’s Angel. Not a good look, even if you’re a badger.

Personally, I don’t go to a barber. I like barbers but if I go to a barber shop there is a high probabilit­y that at some point I will have to answer a question like, “Do you think Brady can take the Patriots to the Super Bowl? And what about Peyton Manning?”

I got flustered by this once and said, “I think Manning did a good job as head of the Reform Party, but he’s a bit old for the NFL.” I was asked to leave the barber shop.

So, I prefer to go to a “hair stylist.” You may ask, what is the difference between a barber and a stylist? The answer is: About $20 and the liberal use of hair gel.

My hair stylist is named Joe and he’s been cutting my hair for almost 30 years. I like Joe because he treats every haircut like it’s the first.

I sit down and he says, “OK, what are we going to do today?” He asks this with real sincerity, even though my cut hasn’t changed appreciabl­y for a couple of decades. Just once I’d like to say, “Well Joe, I’ve decided to shake things up a bit at work, so how about a full mullet? And let’s dye it purple.”

But I don’t. I always say, “How about we clean up the sides and not too much off the top.” And he says cheerfully, “Good idea!” It’s really the only idea, because like most men, I have hair on the sides and not much on the top. So what other direction would I give? If I said, let’s trim up the top and leave the sides, I’d look like Bozo the Clown, thus aligning my haircut with the general impression people have of me.

So Joe starts cutting and we start talking — about our kids, the city, music — and the more we talk, the more Joe cuts. Once we got into a pretty involved discussion about local politics and I came out looking like a marine cadet. Now, I’m more careful.

I talk a bit less, he cuts a bit less (hell, there’s less to cut) and nobody mentions Tony Romo, though I think it’s a pretty good restaurant.

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