Friday, January 25, 2008

The Beauty School.

Karl and I arrived a few minutes early for our haircuts. I had just met Karl two days ago and now we were bonding by goin' fer a haircut. We were going to the Beauty School because they have the best prices in town and they do a pretty good job if you've got the time. The students are slower than professionals and there is an element of risk involved. If you are one of those people that needs their hair just the way it's supposed to be, you probably do not want to be under the scissors of a nervous student.

I had been to a beauty academy before, but that was a little one that only had two students so the teacher was heavily involved with my cut. The thing that I remember about that place was that the first time that I was there I was being quizzed by the student about what I wanted done. My usual answer of "whatever you want" just didn't work with someone who is eighteen years old. Most eighteen year olds have no idea "what they want" and shouldn't be given the opportunity to inflict their impulses on other people, especially adults. When the instructor came in twenty minutes later we were pawing through "fashion magazines" trying to find a picture of a male heterosexual so that we could find a "recipe" for my haircut1.

The instructor took our magazines away and and started asking me what I wanted. Since the "whatever you want" technique was such an utter failure, I tried explaining what I wanted, just like I used to see on TV when people would settle in with Floyd the Barber in downtown Mayberry.

"Take some off the top and trim up the sides."

The instructor could see through my ruse and just fluffed my hair around and said "you just do a standard little-boy haircut". She actually said that, a little-boy haircut! I was so insulted, but since I wouldn't be able to defend myself if she pulled out the fancy words like 'layering' and 'tapering', I just kept my mouth shut and got the haircut. My haircut was "acceptable" according to Beth. I went a few times. My father-in-law liked the price I paid ($2) and started to go for his monthly tune-up. When I would see him after he got each haircut, all I could see was little-boy haircut. It really was. A little wisp in front, longer on top, and almost shaved sides. The wisp was there just in case you had to "dress up" you could add water to your comb and try to make a little pompadour on the front. After seeing Dad looking like Dennis the Menace too often, I moved on to another place to get my haircuts, but that's another story.

That was years ago. Today was the first time that I had dared to try another School. I mostly did it because I have had such a good time at my other haircuts this year that I thought "how much weirder could it be"?

This school was much bigger than the other one. It had a waiting room with six chairs. No fashion magazines either. I figured that girls that are going to "cosmetology" and "esthetic's" classes probably couldn't rearrange those magazines on the table without seeing some teaser on a cover that would make them swipe the whole issue.

We could hear what sounded like quite a few young girls on the other side of the wall. At precisely nine o'clock what sounded like the "teacher" came in and started doing roll call. There were a LOT of students. Carrie came in and got me. I had to sign a release form so that if I didn't have two eyebrows and two ears when I left, it wasn't their fault.

I walked down to the washing stations. It was a long room with at least thirty barber setups. There were also thirty young gals and one young guy chattering away all wearing their black smocks. Constant chattering. They must have to pump in extra oxygen by the afternoon to support this much talking.

After my hair was washed I was walking back to Carrie's station and the student next to Carrie's was poking around in her cabinet and there were people in there. I said "you've got people". She replied that she's "only got heads". Two heads. Each student has two heads stashed in their cabinet so if they don't have any live clients, they work on their fake ones.

While my hair was being cut, there were six or so live people and 24 or so mannequins getting their hair styled. There still was a huge amount of talking going on and almost half of the people were plastic.

I went with the "anything you want" technique and it turned out fine.

It took about an hour but it is a very nice haircut. When Carrie was finished the "Pro" came over and made about another 60 snips with the scissors, just to "clean things up". So I got two haircuts for 8 bucks.

The students do not get paid for their work, probably so that they can get used to the idea of never making enough to pay their bills, after all, they are going out into the real world here. So I tipped her 5 bucks. So $13 for a haircut still comes out to less than WallyWorld or SuckyClips Inc.

There was an interesting dialog taking place while the "Pro" was "cleaning things up". The pro had worked at a place that I used to go to many years ago but now she "is on her own". That is barber talk for "renting a spot". They pay monthly rent to get a chair at a beauty salon and they give the owner of the salon a percentage in exchange for scheduling, heat, water, and those wonderful fumes that you can't really find anywhere else.

My little student got excited because she wants to "be on her own" because that is the "only way to make any money". The pro stated that she liked being "on her own" because she didn't have to charge her customers as much as a "working for a company" would force her to. The student said "or charge as MUCH as you want" with a big smile on her face. The pro and I both replied with the equivalent of "you can only charge big bucks ONCE, and then they will politely leave and never come back", which seemed to disappoint the little student a lot.

She looked so sad, so I offered "...except for the stupid ones!" "They will come back no matter how much you charge and how little hair they have as long as they think that it is very difficult to get an appointment with you." "But of course, you need a LOT of experience to pull that off." That seemed to cheer her up. Tonight she will have dreams of $60 haircuts dancing through her head. "All I need is ONE big job and I can retire..."

When I came out to meet Karl in the waiting room he looked up and said "Hey, you got a better one than me!" so I knew that I had hit pay dirt.

The end.


Note1 Concerning finding a hairstyle in a magazine: In case you are wondering, we were unsuccessful, "fashion magazines" do not seem to have any heterosexual males that have come out of the closet yet, maybe someday men will be able to be stylish without trying to look like a boy-toy. I say "out of the closet" because not ALL good looking guys could be gay, statistically, SOME of them would have to be straight, but if you are going to be a model you have to have the "current look" which means that if you are straight, you sure don't want to look straight. Remember when all female models had to look like junkies? The next phase after that was the S&M look with harsh eye makeup and baring their teeth. Very pleasant.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Marmon Newsletter, February

This is February's column for "The Marmon News".
It is so icy here on the ranch that driving down the half mile long driveway is just like steering down a bobsled run. If there were not frozen snowbanks on either side to gently guide the tires back to the middle there would be a lot of fencing and fenders needing repair.

There are many lucky readers that do not have to deal with snowy roads, but I'm not jealous (I actually am, but I'm trying to be polite). I just thought I would tell you a little "history" about roads, snow, and Marmons in the great white north.

A century ago the preferred technique of road maintenance was not to push the snow out of the way, but to squash it down. Horses pulled large wooden rollers that were six feet in diameter or bigger. Bigger towns had bigger rollers. These rollers were weighed down with rocks. The resulting surface was hard and slick. Horses could walk on the hard surface and pulled sleighs. Most of the time you could also travel with wagons because a it's wheels are not driven, they merely roll across the surface. A wagon wheel merely supports weight, it doesn't propel you forward.

Large chain-drive trucks were being used with some success in the winter on packed roads because they had wide solid-rubber tires with a square profile. Virgil White in West Ossipee New Hampshire sold 25,000 kits to convert your Model T into a SnowMobile, a name coined by Mr. White. You merely unbolted your fenders, moved the front wheels, added crawler treads, and the front was fitted with steerable skis. They were very popular, but the transition from snowy roads to non-snowy roads and back again always meant quite some time in the barn with a wrench.
Farmers and Doctors started venturing out on the roads with their brand new little cars and they found that even if they couldn't afford the SnowMobile kit they could wrap their wheels with chains. They could start and sometimes stop, and with enough practice they could actually get to a destination and back without having to push themselves out of a snowbank very often. A small car was always getting into predicaments that could only be solved because the car was so lightweight. "Two strong men" could push a car out of almost any 'hazard'.

Every town had a rich person. Bigger towns had more rich people. Rich people didn't drive Model-Ts.
Rich people drove Marmons, Rolls-Royces, Oldsmobiles, Pierce-Arrows, and other worthy vehicles.
These cars were not lightweight. When a five thousand pound car stuffs it's nose in a snowdrift, it will take more than "two strong men" to extract the vehicle from the snowdrift and the building behind it.
Rich people could not drive their fine automobiles in the winter. They had to ride in carriages, or a commoner's Model T. What is the point of being wealthy if you can't show it off?

The Snowmobile kits would not work on a luxury car because you just don't pull the fenders off of a car that has a custom body that is considered a work of art. The OctoCar with eight sets of chains might have worked, but the OctoCar was not pretty and never caught the eye of the wealthy.

The town where we lived until recently, Antrim NH, had the very first Main Street that was illuminated with electric lights. This did not happen because of some kind of grant, it happened because Antrim's

rich guy, Mr. Goodell paid to install lights from his house all the way down to his knife factory downtown. Eventually the town inherited the lights and paid for their upkeep. That is the way things worked: The rich guy built it, bought it, or commanded it, and the town keeps it going.
Side Note: The very first automobile that was seen in the town of Antrim was a Marmon, when it was purchased by a resident. According to Pete Wallace, they never had an automobile even drive through the town before the Marmon arrived.

So the wealthy people couldn't drive their fancy cars on hard packed snow that (because of the crown of the road) actually launched any vehicle that drove faster than a walk.
The rich folks paid for a snowplow. A snowplow was a large-slow-noisy-cleat-tracked-beast made by Caterpillar or Buffalo-Springfield that had an over-sized vee-plow mounted on front. It would push the snow into "snowbanks" on the side of the road instead of packing it down and the wealthy were then free to drive their handsome luxury cars down the relatively dry road. Since everybody else is town benefited slightly from the roads being plowed instead of rolled, it wasn't long before the plowing was paid by taxes. Plowing roads also lead to changes in paving materials. Cobblestones do NOT plow well, square paving stones were better, but eventually all roads were surfaced with a "plowable" texture.

Driving was a sport for the wealthy,
a hobby for the mechanically gifted, and it became a tool for farmers, doctors, and businessmen. We Marmoneers should take pride in the fact that without the luxury car market of the teens and twenties, our countrymen may not have learned to plow snow when we did. Cobblestones with their bone-jarring ride would still be touted as the safest surface to apply brakes on. The luxury car market changed all that. Think about that the next time you are shoveling out your driveway. We can drive to work on the snowiest of days because of those rich folks and their plowed roads.
That's a good thing... right?

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Comment system and Ratings

OK, there is now a brandy-spandy NEW and easy way to leave comments.
The old system did not display people's comments unless you jumped to the archived page and I thought that was just silly.

This NEW system will display your comments AND they are easier to enter.

Play with it. Try it out on this post.
I will delete them (from this post) after a few days.
Experiment HERE and then go WRITE there.

There is also a nifty keen Rating system with five stars for you to experiment with.
Ready.... Go.

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