Early in my Taiwan years, way back in 1976, I learned two contradictory things. I should keep my hair, which I’d been wearing quite long in the early 70s, short, and that Barber shops were often covers for brothels. As a young missionary volunteer, I had to be careful.
Eventually I found a place where male barbers were actively cutting hair, and learned to distinguish the shops with scissors from the ones without. But I still had a difficult relationship with haircutting in general. It was generational, going back to teenage conflicts with my father and to having been in the Army for a few years.
Moving into professional life in Taiwan in the 80s, I figured out how and where to stay tonsorially acceptable for my role. After relocating to from Kaohsiung to Tainan in 2007, I hit upon the bargain clip joints at super markets, and depending on where I was when feeling myself overly shaggy, would get a trim before or after getting groceries.
We left Taiwan in July of 2018. I’d had a trim in June that year, and got another one in October (which cost me four times the clip joint rate in Tainan). With the exception of a small trim in November of 2019, I haven’t been in a barber chair in a long time.
I started out thinking to grow my now white hair long, aiming for a Karl Lagerfeld look. But unline Karl, I have almost nothing on top. Recently, walking past a statue of Ben Franklin, I found that I can relate.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.