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Hi, my name is Carl and I’m addicted to haircuts at Hair Cuttery.

I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink alcohol to excess. I don’t have sex with multiple partners. My burst of adrenaline, my game of Russian roulette is walking into a Hair Cuttery and saying, “I’ll take whoever is available next.”

I was haircut-sober for about 5 years. I saw the same stylist at a high-end, salon called Chrim. The type of salon where while you wait, they offer you a locally brewed IPA or a blackberry sparkling water. It took a month to get an appointment but when it was my turn, I sat in my stylist’s chair for an hour. We talked about my kids, my wife, my work, how I was growing as a person. She talked about her cat, the artisanal beef jerky business her fiancé’ ran out of the kitchen of a local bar, their wedding, how she was growing as a person. It was a stable, healthy relationship.

Then she went on maternity leave. Then I moved back to my small hometown, a place known for pick-your-own strawberry orchards and limited upward mobility. That’s when the addiction creeped back in.

I had experimented with the Hair Cuttery in the Strawberry Town Mall as a teenager.

At the time, it was an exotic alternative to the curmudgeonly barbers on Main Street. I arrived back in my hometown as a grown man with a shaggy head of hair. I went to the last thing I knew, the Hair Cuttery.

You don’t need an appointment to go to the Hair Cuttery.

There are ALWAYS stylists at the Hair Cuttery.

I don’t remember the car ride to the mall. Somehow my muscle memory just knew how to get me there. When I signed in at the front desk they asked, “Do you have a preference for who cuts your hair?” I told them, “In all honesty, I DO NOT.”

Maybe she would be fresh out of beauty school. Maybe she came back to hair cutting after her kids went to college. Maybe it would be a man. I needed that uncertainty.

Five people were in line ahead of me, plus two old white-haired ladies that just sat down for a shampoo, cut, color, and style. They were getting the works. It could be a while for these ladies to finish up. But I’m an addict; I had to wait.

I waited 90 minutes for an $18 haircut. My wife called me about 45 minutes into the wait. She asked, “Where are you? It’s dinner time.” I told her I was still waiting for my haircut.

Exasperation in her voice she responded, “The kids are going crazy, get home soon.”

I blew a fuse in my head. “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE KIDS! I’M GETTING MY HAIR CUT! I NEED THIS!”  I had already forsaken my wife and kids, and not a single hair had been trimmed yet.

At minute 90, the stylist called my name.

She was about my age. Mid twenties to early thirties. She had a cool confidence. This wasn’t her first haircut rodeo. I sat down in her chair, my titillation at full strength. I was on the verge of having a good or bad haircut. It was up to God now.

Fifteen minutes later it was all over.  It all happened so fast.

Did I tell her about my family? Did I mention my work? Would it even matter with no context for where I’ve been? What had I done?

I looked in the mirror, first at the back of my head then at the front. I didn’t recognize the person I saw. But it was a lovely haircut.

Cal James

Cal James is an author, improviser, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. His memoir, “I Guarantee You Love, Fame and Legacy” follows his journey through self-realization as a comedian.

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