It started out as just another routine day or so it appeared at the office where I slaved as assistant editor and staff photographer. As the morning progressed and all bodies were accounted for my Editor informed me that we had a 3 p.m. meeting at Fisherman's Wharf at a well known restaurant. It seemed one of the owners had decided to run for public office and we were to do an interview and take a few photos.
About this time Lee, our boss, suggested lunch at Schroeder's, then a popular bar and restaurant located on Market Street at about Second Street. My Editor explained that we were happy to oblige but that we would probably be leaving early so we could make our 3 p.m. appointment. As you can see lunch, as I have pointed out in other of these stories, was never a hurried affair.
Lee said that would work out great since he wanted to get a haircut on his way back to the office. Lee, one of two partners that owned the publications we worked for, was in his early 50s, slender and always well dressed and looked like just what he was, a successful business man. He was also bald with just that typical ring of hair around the rim of his head.
And this was the problem. Ordinarily most liberal in his spending habits he had one hang-up and it was the haircut. With so few hairs to be trimmed he always felt he was being taken advantage of by the barber and it was a subject that came up just about every time he was due to make another visit to a tonsorial parlor.
When we got to Schroeder's we met by chance two of our best advertisers, executives we were well acquainted with and we all adjourned, almost automatically it seemed, to the bar for some drinks.
This went on until my Editor looked at his watch, explained our appointment and so we left leaving the Boss with the other two still at the bar. We weren't worried about lunch ourselves knowing full well the restaurateur would not let us leave his establishment before having a few cocktails and sampling some of the specialties of the kitchen.
We never did get back to the office that afternoon, which shows how good the hospitality really was, so the rest of this story was relayed to us the next morning by one very gleeful office manager.
It seemed that when Lee finally returned to the office he was rather the worse for wear as the saying goes. The only ones present were the office manager and our two office gals. To them he proudly announced that he had finally found a solution to that annoying habit of paying a barber for a haircut.
On the way back from lunch he had found a speciality shop that sold do-it-yourself hair trimming kits and he had bought one. As described to me it consisted of a comb and a shears type device, hand-held, that trimmed as you ran it through the hair working the shears as you moved along the scalp.
The worse part was he now decided to demonstrate this wonderful find to an office staff who looked on with amazement and some degree of horror.
Now if one had a really keen eye, a perfectly steady hand and wraparound mirrors, the device just might have worked. Unfortunately our publisher had none of these things going for him.
A few passes with the shears showed a scene of complete devastation with hair chopped and slashed at various angles and degrees. Also there was a nick on the scalp which was bleeding and with this, one of the women stepped over to give aid but not before a few drops reached the collar of his white shirt. As our office manager described the event later it looked like he had been hit by a lawn mower.
Once she had the bleeding stopped our leader mumbled something about it requiring some degree of practice, went into his office, closed the door and was not seen again till closing time when the office manager inquired to see if he needed anything. What he really needed was a real good makeup artist.
Of course the next morning the story was related to one and all as they arrived for work. Lee was late coming in that morning and we all assumed quite correctly that some luckless barber was trying to salvage a terrifying sight. When he did arrive no one said anything but we all looked him over very carefully noting that the very, very thin band of hair remaining now resembled nothing so much as the haircuts worn by monks of old as they poured over their manuscripts. Unfortunately the nicks and scrapes showed up quite vividly.
Even his partner who was always quick with a retort had nothing to say but later that morning he did enter the office which my Editor and I shared and wondered aloud where he could find a monk's habit and some sandals. My Editor playing it straight suggested a costume rental agency which was located on Golden Gate Avenue.
Of course this spectacular event was never forgotten and inevitably whenever someone said they needed a haircut, the retort would be, well why don't you borrow Lee's trimmer. He might be willing to let you have it at a good price.
Actually the dreaded instrument never made another appearance. And no one ever heard our leader complain about the price of a haircut again either.
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