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My days of channeling ‘Doc Brown’ are done thank to stylists being freed

Life is good.

You can find pinto beans on store shelves.

Toilet paper has been taken off the endangered species list.

 And I finally got my hair cut.

It had been 89 days since my last haircut. That’s the longest since I was 20 years old and my sister-in-law who was starting cosmetology school talked me into letting it grow so she could practice her Afro styling skills. How bad was it? At the time if I was 200 pounds lighter, two feet shorter, and Sylvia had talked me into dyeing my hair like Carrot Top the comedian I could have auditioned as a male impersonator of Little Orphan Annie.

I’ve been resisting giving into the urge of butchering my own hair to be part of the genre of hair styling referred to graciously as “quarantine cuts.”  I did, however, “snip” strands of hair that banded together with a mind of their own for the Bozo the Clown look. I figured if I didn’t, it would only be a matter of time before I had the mad scientist look perfected by Doc Brown in “Back to the Future” and updated by Bernie Sanders.

Making controlling my hair all the more challenging is I do not put what is referred to as “product” in my hair. The longer it gets when I encounter wind my hair looks like it does after I spend a night tossing and turning.

I’ll admit that I was tempted to ask a friend of a friend who is not a stylist, barber, or such who had been cutting her kids’ hair for years and during the pandemic was making money on the side clipping hair. Her work wasn’t exactly Vidal Sassoon but was several cuts above The Three Stooges. Between not wanting to look like a Geritol-set “That ‘70s Show” groupie and jogging in 100-degree heat with a mop of hair that was sopping wet after 45 minutes, my resolve to wait until a professional could again cut hair legally without facing the wrath of Gavin Newsom  almost collapsed.

Speaking of Gavin Newsom, who has been cutting the governor’s hair the past few months?

I know it wasn’t a stylist at Sadie’s, Dan’s Barber Shop, or Scores that the governor kept closed for 68 days.

Scores was among those that reopened this week.

As much as I was getting antsy with my hair, I also dreaded getting my haircut.

The protocols required and the fact 84,500 people in Manteca all want to get their hair cut as soon as humanely possible by someone who did not get their training during a YouTube tutorial video at the depth of the pandemic convinced me the first month or so visiting a stylist would be as a pleasant experience as visiting Costco during the first week of the stay at home orders.

 I decided Friday to swing by Scores to see how they were handling business during the pandemic.

Signs on their doors gave a number to call to make an appointment with the added caveat that walk-in appointments would be a “limited” opportunity for the time being.  I called the number from the parking lot, left a message and headed home.

I got a return call less than an hour later and was able to get an appointment at 3 p.m. I went for a jog, showered, and walked through the doors at Scores at 2:58 p.m.

If you have ever tried to get into Scores on a Friday afternoon you know that you can usually look forward to at least a 30-minute wait. That wasn’t the case on Friday.

When I walked through the door I was immediately greet by Diana who had a chair at the back of the shop and told me she was ready. There was no sign and not a single person in the reception area staring either at smartphones or at the screens of TVs displaying various sports channels with closed captioning.  There were only five other people in Scores — three stylists and two other customers.

Judging by the nearby conversations and what Diana said in response to a query, there have been plenty of heads of hair with varying degrees of quarantine cut issues to correct.

I opted to have my first reopening haircut shorter than usual. That’s because with social distancing going forward getting a haircut is likely to be a logistical nightmare. To be on the safe side, I wanted it to be a tolerable length when I start a week-long hiking trip in six weeks on the chance it may be difficult to squeeze in another haircut before then.

After asking how short I normally have my hair cut and the fact it had been three months, Diana set about to tame the mess. She noted that my hair had a lot of volume which is a nice way of saying it can look like I stuck a wet finger in a light socket three weeks after getting a haircut given I eschew using “product”.

Surprisingly, getting your hair cut while wearing a face mask wasn’t that odd of an experience. I’ve only worn face masks four other times so far — on three occasions when I gave platelets at the Stockton Red Cross  and once to enter Big 5 Sporting Goods — and they have been the disposable cup shape face masks supplied by Red Cross.

At one point because the mask I was using did not loop around my ears, I ended up holding the mask to my face so the stylists could do her job.

Scores just like other styling shops, salons, and barbershops were already doing disinfecting and cleaning to a large degree before the stepped up rules needed to re-open during the pandemic.

And for the record, when I had to move the mask from being held by a band around my head to holding with my hand to my face, Diana took the appropriate social distancing measures and stepped back. The same was true of the other stylists.

I am clearly not the governor nor do I hold degrees in infectious diseases but given the protocols in place and how they are being followed hair stylists probably should have been allowed to open a month ago.

I do, however, appreciate the little things in life especially now that we are dealing with pandemic restrictions. Those restrictions mean stylists like Diana have to work longer per customer as they must go through a more rigorous cleaning process before client. And to avoid long waits they need to space people out.

That’s why if you are in a position to do so — and are inclined to — consider a tip as stylist, barbers, and others are likely to be struggling.

Usually I’ll tip two or three dollars. On Friday I splurged and tipped $6.

It was well worth the $25 overall the trip to Scores cost considering just a week ago I was considering paying someone $20 whose home-growing styling skills were just a notch or two above a bowl cut.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email