Christopher D. Morley and the haircut

hair cut There are some things that we do which is universal; for example, getting a haircut. For within my lifetime I have yet to meet a person who has not at one time or another returned home rather unhappy. And although we know in our heart of hearts that the locks that have been cut will grow back, we may still feel like a lamb having just been sheared.

So traumatic is a bad haircut that it is enough to send a young person coming up with any excuse to stay home from school. For who doesn’t remember the emotional pain and embarrassment which was executed by a rather unkind classmate.

A poor haircut can make you believe as though you have the largest ears or the longest neck. It can make you feel as though you are ten years old again, or have been transformed back to the 1980s. And although your hairdresser or barber will look at you like they have just painted the Mona Lisa, no amount of lies will make you feel better when staring back at you in that over-sized mirror is you with a very miserable haircut!

So take note that the world may be a very big place but in spite of its vast landmass… you cannot hide from a getting at least once… a bad haircut!

christopher morley 3From his essay Sitting in the Barber’s Chair I bring back to you the esteemed thinker: Christopher Morley (1890-1957) American author, journalist, poet, and essayist. I believe that once again he will stir you away from your hectic day and enchant you with a small but worthy bit of humor.

“Once every ten weeks or so we get our hair cut… Of course, we believe in having our hair cut during office hours. That is the only device we know to make the hateful operation tolerable…
We knew a traveling man who never got his hair cut except when he was on the road, which permitted him to include the transaction in his expense account; but somehow it seems to us more ethical to steal time than to steal money…

We like to view this whole matter in a philosophical and ultra-pragmatic way. Some observers have hazarded that our postponement of haircuts is due to mere lethargy and inertia, but that is not so. Every time we get our locks shorn our wife tells us that we have got them too short. She says that our head has a very homely and bourgeois bullet shape, a sort of pithecanthropoid contour, which is revealed by a close trim. After five weeks’ growth, however, we begin to look quite distinguished. The difficulty then is to ascertain just when the law of diminishing returns comes into play. When do we cease to look distinguished and begin to appear merely slovenly? Careful study has taught us that this begins to take place at the end of sixty-five days, in warm weather. Add five days or so for natural procrastination and devilment, and we have seventy days interval, which we have posited as the ideal orbit for our tonsorial ecstasies…”

First image: Sergeant from Fort Benning getting his son’s hair cut at a barber shop in Columbus, Georgia 1941

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