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Haircuts in my family were traumatic, psychologically scarring events. Michael, as the salon’s owner was called, or with his No. Well, maybe science fiction: It sprung from her fertile imagination like that creature in Alien .
The easiest way to describe it is as a crewcut, a Marine buzz cut-except that my mother, God forbid, would never let anything as proletarian as a razor near her four sons’ tender heads.
Unfortunately, the lights didn’t go out until our haircuts were finished and we were leaving.
It was like getting your own hair cut four times on the same day.
After I was through, I’d have to wait while my brothers got their hair cut, my mother standing over the barber the whole time. But by the time my youngest brother Jamie slipped out of the barber’s chair with his crewcut, I was crawling the walls.
It’s coming back to me now, almost as if retrieved by hypnosis. Gay, who seemed like a decent enough guy, eventually balked at clipping our heads with a scissors.
And since my parents were apparently under the impression that the only way to cope with four boys was to treat them like military cadets, or rather prisoners of war, we all had our hair cut on the same afternoon every other week. From the age of 3 until I was 8 or 9, no one but Mr. Until suddenly one day, without explanation, my mother dropped him for Mr. Gay’s customers, that it was hardly less significant than if she’d just filed for divorce from my father. Gay, so utterly had she banished him from her memory.I recently asked her why we abruptly switched from Mr. Michael, a sweet-natured opera buff with the world’s bushiest eyebrows, who ran the salon from Chair No. Eventually, she admitted there must have been some falling out over hair.I was sorry when I learned that Michael’s, the well-known children’s hair-cutting salon at Madison Avenue and 90th Street, went out of business recently. Michael’s was famous for cutting the hair of generations of preppies, allegedly including John F. I got my first haircut at Michael’s, and every haircut after that until, at the ripe old age of 16, I finally rebelled. It was like nothing that existed in nature, or even in science fiction. And, God knows, I spent enough of my childhood in the barber’s chair at Michael’s that I’d have run into him if he’d been a regular. First, there was the hair style she’d invented for us.
We spent so much time at Michael’s that historic events transpired while we were there.
The great blackout of 1965 occurred during one of our biweekly visits.