A Hair Affair

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By: Tom Schulte, CFP®

There are certain professional and recreational relationships that go deeper than the matter at hand. Oftentimes you see this with one’s doctor, coach, mechanic, mentor, financial planner (we hope), just to name a few, in which the relationship feels much more like a partnership as opposed to a one-way street of service. You care for these professionals on a much deeper level than the desired outcomes you seek their advice for. When you’re younger, fewer of these relationships exist purely based off a lifestyle of less complexity. However, as a boy growing to a young adult, there was one relationship that always seemed to be missing: the relationship with a barber.

Lacking this relationship, I grew up without an accurate sounding board for hairstyle and life decisions. Couple that with three sisters eager to play stylist on their helpless brother and, as you can imagine, it leads to disaster. One time in particular, my childhood crush was visiting her family that had recently moved next door. To impress her, my sisters convinced me to let them style my hair to look like Howie Day. Howie Day at that time was the 25 year old, one-hit wonder singer of ‘Collide’ and had long blonde hair that was spiked perfectly. I on the other hand was a 10-year-old with curly brown helmet-like hair. After no more than 5 minutes, my sisters realized the mission was futile and simply took scissors to my hair and pushed me out the front door to say hi to my crush. Looking like Herman Munster, I awkwardly waved hi from the pear tree and scurried back into the house. Needless to say, she and I never worked out.

When I arrived at college, all these cool new guys had one thing in common: their barbers were their closest confidants, best friends, life coaches, you name it! You see, up until then, I had always gone to a local barbershop with several barbers, in which I would rotate around based on whoever was available. None of them knew my name or anything about me – however one did remember me as the sour apple blowpop boy, as I guess I was eating one during a previous cut. For whatever reason, that memory was truly engrained in the barber’s mind because at my next cut, he convinced me to let him etch ‘I love sour apple blowpops’ into the back of my head. Upon seeing my mom’s reaction, he quickly brought me back to the chair to erase the mistake with a buzz cut. That was the closest I got to a personal relationship with a barber.

For a year or so after moving to Boston, I would frequent the local Dorchester barbershop. While this rotating group of gentlemen did a wonderful job cutting hair, a language [JE1] barrier made it difficult to form a meaningful relationship. That was until a friend told me about Jaz. Jaz was spoken of as if he were a mythical figure. When he wasn’t in the studio working on beats for famous rappers, he was DJing high-profile events, and in the little downtime he had, he’d spend it cutting hair for a few local guys. With a referral vouching for me and a few months’ wait, I finally met Jaz for a cut. He immediately started asking about my hair – how I liked it, which numbers to use on the sides, tappers, square-offs, you name it. Hair talk progressed to personal talk, discussing music, NBA free agency, travel, and family. Not only did he ask about me, but he was very open to sharing about his life and would get surprisingly detailed and personal. You might say it was love at first snip; I had finally found my barber.

Unlike my fourth-grade crush, Jaz and I are still going strong. And while the haircuts look nice, visiting his shop every couple of months is merely an excuse to chat about life and visit the old neighborhood that I miss so much.


 [JE1]Since you’re not indicating that there’s a specific language at play, this makes more sense.