I’m sitting in a hairstylist’s chair in a fruity salon in the swanky Pittsburgh neighborhood of Shadyside. Women are all around me, but I’m getting my hair cut by one of just two male stylists in the place.
“Quentin,” my stylist, is an avowedly gay man—wide open, yet respectful of others’ heterosexual hang-ups. But you can get him talking, and I always do. I notice the inch-thick rubber choker around his neck, which seems out of place with his dress shirt and skinny tie.
“You’re looking a little S&M, a little fetishist today,” I say. He smiles, seeming happy I noticed.
“I like to be totally free with the person I’m with,” Quentin says, tossing his head and smoothing a bang of his jet-black, chemically treated hair with the back of his hand.
He deftly places a comb over my right eyebrow and says in a low voice: “I’m just going to trim your eyebrows, O.K.?”
I nod my head, and with a few sweeps of his clipper, my eyebrows are shorter, less full, and neater. I check myself in the mirror and immediately notice the improved effect. Though I feel a bit funny, the trim didn’t hurt a bit, and it sure did make I difference, I think.
That bit of man-scaping brings up a question that has been nagging my insecure macho ego for a while. So I ask myself again: Could I be a metrosexual?
I consider my location, and then go down my mental checklist of possible metrosexual indicators. I’m in a quichey women-centered hair salon. I’m getting my hair styled by a gay man in S&M regalia. I just got my eyebrows trimmed.
Sitting in that chair, I once again began to worry that I am at least partly metrosexual. What had happened to me, I wondered. How did I get to be such a sissy, seemingly overly concerned with my grooming? Was this some sort of midlife crisis of self-confidence?
On any other day I might’ve been in denial like all the other times, sitting there at the capable hands of my gay-boy stylist, but today is different. A frightening specter of my past—an old mistake of a girlfriend who I’ll call Scary—is sitting just feet from me. With a plastic bag covering her hairdo, she is reading a magazine and pretending not to notice me. I start to feel just a bit shy and effete, thinking of how she knew me years ago, when I was less refined. Then I momentarily feel like I am invading her womanly space, and possibly shocking the hell out of her. Part of me takes a perverse pleasure in the thought, and I talk louder and more brashly to Quentin because of it.
“I’ve been studying women for thirty years. I can pick out the strange haircuts, and also the awkward-looking knees,” I say. “Some women should not wear certain haircuts, because they don’t fit their face—just like some people can’t wear pastels.”
Even as I am saying these things, I don’t hear how potentially sweet they sound. But with Scary just feet away, I do realize how far I’ve come from years ago, when I was dating her and shoveling concrete for work while not finishing college. My old self would not have been caught dead in a place like the salon, unless he was there to pick up a girl.
When it comes to metrosexuality, if you have to ask yourself if you are one, you’re probably in denial. I haven’t gotten to the point where I get “mannies and peddies” yet (and I’m not ruling them out), but I have found myself paying a lot more attention to skin care products. I’m hip to StriVectin-HS, which somehow makes fine lines on the face disappear, at least temporarily. I’ve used it and seen the results, but it’s too expensive for me to want to regularly use.
A couple of haircuts back I mentioned to Quentin that I’ve been feeling like something of a metrosexual.
“There’s a difference between metrosexual and heterosexual,” he says, looking at me in the mirror and continuing to trim my hair. “A metrosexual will pluck his eyebrows, and a heterosexual won’t.”
“Well, I use Hylexion, for the dark circles under my eyes…” I say.
“You’re metrosexual,” he says, nodding his head.