Hairy situation: ensure you protect your roots by not being undercut

The old barber shop brings back a flood of memories for all of our male readers, even those who are now "hirsutely" challenged. As teenagers it was filled with extra delights, such as our first copy of Man magazine and other unmentionable things like the redoubtable condom. It was the only place where you could buy them without having to be out in the open in a chemist shop with Mrs Next Door watching. Thank heavens the past 50 years has brought a more open society.

The old barber shop brings back a flood of memories for all of our male readers, even those who are now "hirsutely" challenged. As teenagers it was filled with extra delights, such as our first copy of Man magazine and other unmentionable things like the redoubtable condom. It was the only place where you could buy them without having to be out in the open in a chemist shop with Mrs Next Door watching. Thank heavens the past 50 years has brought a more open society.

The smells of a barber shop were also so wonderful with long-gone brands such as Californian Poppy, as well as the new aphrodisiac of the times - Old Spice.

The scariest cut in those days was the old "short back and sides", which seems to live on today in the phrase "you'll have to take a haircut on this one" (an American term that has gone global meaning that you're not going to be able to sell something at its full value.)

During a visit recently to the land of the free, New York to be precise, I booked in to the barber shop at my hotel, thinking this was a clever move that would save me time and money with the strength of the Australian dollar against its US counterpart.

The concierge directed me to Warren-Tricomi Salon on the first floor, saying "It's very expensive," to which I replied, "That will be OK, I only need a quick trim."

He said: "I get my hair cut for $12." As I looked at his fine Italian mane I thought, that would do me. But being a polite and co-operative guest, I didn't want to cancel Warren-Tricomi.

So off I went, but on entering I thought I had arrived at a nightclub. Nevertheless I was reassured I was in the right place as I was led to the cloakroom and given a little token in return for my jacket. I know the rules of America - that would be a $10 tip to get it back, leaving $2 for the haircut.

As I was led to the washbasin I said: "No, no, I'm just after haircut." But undeterred, she washed my hair and massaged my scalp as I lay backwards in an elaborate chair, engineered with the precision of a stealth bomber - on its way to North Korea.

From there I was led into a hall of mirrors and fancy chairs. The unisex nature of this establishment threw me for a moment when I realised the person sitting next to me was a woman. Either that or the Botox had developed a life of its own.

Shortly after making myself sort of comfortable, an elegantly dressed man with fine features approached me from behind and announced himself as my cutter. Instruments were laid out as he tut-tutted he didn't have a water spray. In fact I was in the hands of America's best hairdresser - Mr Tricomi himself.

With a little shrug he manipulated my hair in a gentle fashion and snip snip snip; it was done in a trice.

He then reached for the gel (I have never had gel before) that had the strength of your average axle grease, and I emerged from the salon looking like a bewildered echidna.

While I must admit that I still had $12 in mind, I was not all that surprised when I thought I heard the cashier say $28 dollars.

She stared at me as I put down $30, and then repeated the price: "$428."

Now that was a haircut.

However in advertising industry terms in Australia, over recent decades costly haircuts have been the way of things as our advertising agencies have sold out to international colleagues, usually for three times the annual profit, and always too cheap. The bosses have had to stay for three years and earn the money anyway.

We now have some great new Australian companies that have emerged in this digital age, and are ripe for the picking.

My advice: don't sell yourselves or Australia for that matter too cheaply, if at all. Understand my New York story - a 30-minute lapse in the Big Apple and I ended up with a serious haircut.

Sell your hair, but not your soul. Hair will always grow again.

Related Articles