It was time for my haircut again, which is to say it was a good shaggy three weeks since it last looked okay. I’m not fancy. I don’t have the right hair for fancy. For years I’ve been going around the corner to the local barber. She’s cheap. This does not frighten me, in and of itself. I am quite aware that it’s perfectly possible to pay a fortune to get a haircut that will make you sob into your pillow and call in sick for a week. So I wasn’t worried. Monique used to charge $13 for a haircut, or $12 for seniors. I was still in my fifties the first time I went in and she cheerfully charged me $12.

“How old do you have to be to be a senior?” I asked.

“Sixty-five,” she said.

“Oh. I’m not there yet,” I said, and she said “Ha ha!” and still charged me $12.

Ha ha! Ha! Anyway. I’m plenty legit now. It was still $12 at the beginning of the pandemic. Then $15. The next time, $18. Six months later, $25. I checked the website last week and it was $35. By the time I tried to book an appointment two days later, it was $38. This is the sort of thing that has you tearing down the street and whipping into the salon thinking Buy! Buy!

But Monique was gone. It was time to reassess.

Now, I am fully aware that $12 was and is a ridiculous price for a haircut and I over-tipped accordingly. But nothing fancy happened in that shop. You weren’t getting a nice shampoo or any fragrant product. You were at the mercy of one person with a comb, scissors, and razor, plus a spray bottle of water. She had fifteen minutes to spank your fur into some kind of shape. Monique always came in just under the wire. Especially toward the end, there, she was able to texture my straight little haystack into something with the illusion of volume, even though my head is the size of a walnut. And she never made me look like a toilet brush. I was completely satisfied.

But now things in the vicinity of the ol’ walnut are getting dire. Emotionally healthy people such as myself are able to contend with revolting developments in the aging process with some grace. This allows them to instruct their hairdressers to “cut it in front even with my chinline—the first one.” (Monique nods soberly, grateful for clarification.) But the gods, and Monique, are never quite through with their campaign of abasement. The latest thing is my hair is falling out. Mostly around my temples. I had a rather high forehead to begin with. I’m not interested in watching it get higher and higher, and then (gack) lower. I peer into the mirror and think: Was I always able to see my scalp through my hair?

When we flattered ourselves by imagining God created us in his own image, were we supposed to know he looked like Benjamin Franklin?

For a woman with straight hair, thinning is redundant. I scouted around for another hairdresser. One I can walk to is always nice; there are about five shops in that category. I settled on one advertising prices from $85-$125 for a simple style-and-cut. I probably have five thousand dollars saved up from never having colored my hair. And I believe people should be paid for their work.

I stifled the urge to ask what they’d charge if they left out the complimentary glass of wine, and stared at the photos on the website to pick a stylist. It reminded me a lot of researching literary agents. What if I settled on one and went to book an appointment, and she said “Thanks for thinking of me! Unfortunately, I don’t feel I am the right stylist for your project, but good luck placing your head elsewhere!” I’d be devastated.

But then Dave and I were walking around the neighborhood and happened on another barbershop, Dee’s Golden Door, walk-ins welcome, checks or cash only. The door was open. I stuck my walnut-head in. There were sinks. Dave! I can get a shampoo too! I waltzed in prepared for luxury and got seated right away. No shampoo. Scissors only and a spray bottle of water. But $25! I was partying like it was late 2022. The cut is good enough. And good enough is my motto.