Why You Shouldn’t Cheat on Your Barber

Some days ago, I came across an online poll. The poll asked guys whom they would save if they had to choose between their barber and girlfriend at the edge of a cliff. This was a no-brainer; I wasn’t surprised when the poll ended 69% to 31% in favour of barbers.

Apparently, 31% of guys didn’t know they owed their relationships to barbers. Did they think they could keep their girlfriends without that ritzy fade or pristine hairline? In the stone-age, cavemen had to steal their wives. It wasn’t until barbers were born that men learned to woo. The art of culture and seduction can be found in a well-trimmed beard.

Barbers are some of the most important people in a man’s life (well, if you have hair). I had a good thing going until I wrecked it. Everybody has a “broken relationship” story and this is mine.

The Good Times

Until several months ago, my life was perfect. I had a good job, an awesome girlfriend, an apartment to-die-for on the swanky Banana Island, and yes, the best barber in the world. I was living the dream.

My barber’s name was Kez. The first time I met Kez was at The Game. I was looking to buy a UPS set and he was there to get new LCD-TV for the shop. He saw me pondering between the ACJet brand and PowerSaver, and advised me to go for the latter.

“I’ve been using PowerSaver for two years now, and never had any issues. Definitely the better option,” he explained.

I ended up getting the PowerSaver. We got talking and he told me he owned Kez’s Place at Ikoyi. We exchanged numbers, and that weekend I stopped by his barbershop. It had a comforting ambience that got you relaxed as soon as you walked in. I had the best haircut of my life, and immediately, I was hooked.

Kez wasn’t just any ordinary barber, he was a walking GQ magazine. The latest bro-codes, pick-up lines, best deals on games — you name it- he was your go-to person. I was always on the top of my game with info from Kez. We had struck a lasting relationship…or so I thought.

The Temptation

By now, I had been with Kez’s Place for four years. An interesting four years too. During that time, I had risen from junior exec to senior manager, changed house twice and girlfriend three times. Kez Place had redefined my hair-culture and given it an eponymous identity; the rick-fade. I couldn’t go to a major event without getting it done or brushing it up.

If I had remained loyal, the rick-fade would probably have evolved to some ultra-modern hair couture by now. Unfortunately, the smallest temptation can ruin even a lifetime of dedicated partnership.

So, on this particular evening, I had a meeting with my boss which unfortunately happened to be at Nappy Kutz. Because he was in a hurry that day, he decided to kill two birds with one stone.

Nappy Kutz is a barbershop on Victoria Island, and while it’s got nothing much on Kez’s Place, it had some attractive features I liked. For example, the private cut rooms, where you could get a haircut without the noise and interference of other patrons. Sometimes, you just want to cut your hair in peace.

However, according to Kez, the barbershop is a social place. Why get a private room? “If I wanted that, I’d go to a strip club,” he always said.

When my boss finished with his haircut, a woman in tight-fitting shorts proceeded to wash his hair with eucalyptus oil shampoo.

“This is a new service here, have one on me,” he offered. The lady smiled at me, running her fair tapered fingers gently through his meaty scalp.

“I am good, thanks”. I replied.

In the Bro bible, cheating on your barber is one of the worst things you could ever do. It is low- even lower than blackmail.

As I drove home that day, I couldn’t help thinking how good a eucalyptus-oil head massage would feel. Obviously, the seed of inception had been sown.

The Give-in

The following weekend I was at Kez’s place, and for no reason, the question popped out.

“What if you gave a sort of head-wash after a haircut, wouldn’t it be a good idea?”

“We already have a head-wash service,” Kez replied.

“I know, but that’s just the hot towel rub. I mean a full complimentary head wash with eucalyptus-oil or something…?”

Kez paused the fade he was giving a young man, and looked at me funny.

“Have you been seeing other barbers, Richard?”

“No!” I replied quickly, “Just something I heard- a suggestion.”

Kez resumed the customer’s fade.

“If I got women in skimpy shorts to wash my clients’ hair for no real reason, I’ll attract the wrong crowd. People would only come here to get their rocks off, instead of a good old trim. And I want real customers.” He finished off, with a sharp click of the clipper.

“Yes, of course, I agreed.”

For the rest of the week, I was haunted by pictures of head massages. In the papers, on TV and the radio, Nappy Kutz kept advertising its special “head-wash service”. It didn’t help that Nappy Kutz was on my way back from work, so I was always greeted by the lascivious grin of the buxomly woman on the billboard.

One evening, just out of curiosity, I parked my car in front and walked in.

The Break-up

Few weeks later, I went to Kez’s Place for a trim. I hoped the evidence of my indiscretion was concealed under weeks of overgrown hair. Unfortunately, I hoped wrong.

“Did you cut your hair somewhere else?” Kez asked.

“No, why?” I replied, trying to look as serious as possible.

“The previous pattern seems different. A little off on the centimetres.”

I shrugged. And Kez didn’t say more. We let it go.

During my trim, I recalled the evening of few weeks ago. I had entered Nappy Kutz and asked for a shave- just the one shave- topped with a head wash. The scalp massage was heavenly, the woman kneaded my temples like a priestess from Bali. The eucalyptus oil had a menthol-soothing effect, and I didn’t know when I dosed off.

The next week, I found myself taking a detour into Nappy Kutz again. I put on shades, a dark hat and raised my collar. This was dangerous, I was officially cheating on my barber. I ordered my special; a “shave and head wash.”

Once again, the following week, Kez asked if I had a haircut elsewhere. This time it was quite obvious, so I told him a decoy lie. I had travelled to Abuja for a conference and needed a quick fix so I used a local barber. Meant nothing to me. He nodded in understanding.

The ensuing weeks, I continued to patronise Nappy Kutz. I was now a regular with a steady tab. The shave and head massage was my special. Nappy Kutz was a guilty pleasure, and like all guilty pleasures, I did it secretly, wondering how long it would last. I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

The weekend after that, Kez hit me with a shocker.

“I think you should start seeing other barbers,” he said.

The Fall-out

Some barbers in the shop stopped to listen. An old man reading a newspaper looked in our direction, even the music from the stereo system seemed to screech and pause.

“What do you mea — ?”

“Since you are already doing so secretly, why not make it official?” Kez interjected.

More customers were beginning to look at us now.

“I don’t understand.”

“Stop lying!” Kez yelled. “Can you look me in the eyes and say you haven’t been to Nappy Kutz?”

“I haven’t been to — ”

He opened a drawer, brought out a manila envelope and tossed its contents across the table towards me. They were 4 A3-sized black and white glossy photos of me enjoying a head wash from one of Nappy Kutz’ buxom priestesses. The image was so detailed, you could see I was asleep. Even I had to admire the photographer’s proficiency.

“So, you spying on me now?” I asked, trying to think of a quick excuse but none came. “I can explain…”

“Don’t! Just pack your stuff and leave.”

All attempts to explain fell on deaf ears. The whole barbershop watched me with disdain. An unfaithful customer who couldn’t appreciate the good thing he had.

In the end, I packed my stuff (clipper bag) and left.

“Customers are scum!” I heard someone say as I left the barbershop.

That night, I lost a good barber.

My Kez’s Place membership was revoked, and loyalty cards cancelled. There was talk about me being blacklisted in the Ikoyi barbers’ community. Losing a good barber is a bad thing, especially if they fashioned a hairstyle no-one can replicate. I couldn’t get anybody to do the rick-fade as I liked.

As a last resort, I returned to Nappy Kutz- the cause of my woes. But the barbershop was locked. A neighbour told me it had been shut down by authorities for illegal sexual practices. No wonder the women usually asked if I needed extra services. A lot of things were beginning to make sense now.

As I couldn’t find a good barber, my hair began to grow and I started to lose my mojo. I tried to do my own shaving a few times but messed it up. Soon, I gave up on trims altogether and began to go bushy. By the third month, my hair grew out of control and my beard was worse than shaggy.

I was asked to take a break from work. HR mentioned something about me scaring the clients, and it not being good for business. I was too shaggy to care. My girlfriend also complained about not listening to her, but it’s hard to hear anything when your ears are buried deep in unkempt layers of caveman beard. She too left.

By the fifth month, when I was barely recognisable- even to be admitted into my building by my security guards, a group of friends came together and bundled me into rehab. They called it “the tough-love decision.”

The Recovery

I know many people have not heard of hair rehab, but it does exist. For people like me who haven’t got a hold of their hair situation- and are about to ruin their lives- a hair rehab is the place to heal.

For starters, they make you shave off everything- Buddhist monk style- so you have no need for a clipper or razor. You also get to share personal hairs’periences with other patients. One dude had been banned from five different barbershops in Lekki. It felt good to know I wasn’t alone.

I have therapy sessions with a professional every other day, and I’m told I’m making progress. I hope so too. I can’t wait to get back to the real world because I feel like I am in a Shaolin temple.

Who knows, maybe this time, I’ll find a barber I can be loyal to. I had a good thing going once, I am not prepared to lose it again.