FOR MOST OF MY LIFE a barrel-chested Italian barber, Aldo, was entrusted with my hair. I’d climb into his vinyl-covered chair and get “the usual”—a subtle mushroom cut parted on the left side. In high school I switched to a sweet Polish woman who’d often greet me at the door with, “I give you a GQ.” But it became more apparent with every trim that Sophie’s skills weren’t quite up to fashionisto standards. So when my fiancée, Michelle, advised that I visit her stylist, ! agreed. Amazingly, it only took one “shaping” from Rodrigo at Coupe Bizzarre, the ultra-hip Toronto salon, for me to be hooked. My dad doesn’t get it. Neither do some of my friends, who often point out the number of pints of beer my $48 (plus tip) do's cost me. But I figure that since 1 wear my hair every day, i should invest in it. And the truth is, my pals’ $10 trims look, well, like $10 trims. Chilean-born Rodrigo devotes at least as much energy to the conversation as to my hair. As he washes, massages and clips during an hourlong visit, I'm taken on a verbal roller coaster that loops from his latest skateboarding exploits to trips across the country with his two kids aboard a reconditioned yellow school bus. We have to compete with the loud drum-n-bass to hear each other, but I have the coolest hair experiences of my life.
Though only 25-and still decades, I hope, from the dreaded comb-over-I’ve lived through some pretty memorable hairstyles. Like nearly every child who grew up in the early ’80s, I wore the wildly popular bowl cut. In high school ! experimented with a pair of Jason Priestley-inspired sideburns before progressing to a spiky boy-band style that some friends joked could take an eye out. But I got my most flamboyant cut in Grade 8, when I decided to shave lines in my hair to emulate rap star Vanilla Ice. Then 13,1 asked my Italian scissor
smith to work his magic. For more than a brief moment he and the six patrons waiting their turn-ail near or past retirement age-looked at me in horror.
Rodrigo, who’s 30, says that when he started doing hair a decade ago, only one in 10 of his customers was male. Today, men account for half, and most aren’t just there for a cut. “More than 70 per cent of my male clients get colour done as well. Ten years ago they would have never thought about sticking foil in their hair. Inaiot of ways,” he concludes, laughing, “some straight guys are more queer than queers.” Since my first visit with Rodrigo, ! have been
searching for the perfect styling product Pomade currently tops my list. I especially like the texturing it provides-a fact I don’t often divulge while watching Monday Night Football with the guys.
The absurdity of my hair obsession became clear while watching Hugh Grant in Abouta Boy. I caught myself laughing when Grant's character realizes he’s paying a stylist a ton of money for that perfect, straight-from-a-salon “tousled look.” But who was I to laugh? I had an appointment booked with Rodrigo the very next day. Is it vanity? Of course it is. But it doesn’t bother me at ail. JOHN INTINI
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