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©2021 tuppenceforthebirds
Looking Good, China
2020.06.29

I tend to be finicky about my hair. Uptight is another word. Anyone who has had the misfortune to be around me when I’ve been on the bad side of a pair of clippers has witnessed an infantile meltdown.1 So it took no small leap of faith when I had my haircut this week without the assistance of a Mandarin translator. It was just me, two English-speaking friends, and our combined powers of hand gesture.

We each made it out of the experience whole, though not without anxiety. Neither Geoff or I had much hair to lose, and weren’t exactly primed for a makeover. When pointing at haircuts on the wall, we each erred toward the “nerdy member of a K-Pop band” style--still aggresive by the standards of your run-of-mill American barber. Nick, on the other hand, provided the stylist with an surplus of hair and went all-in on a transformation that included a straight iron and a hairdryer. Both, he claims, were previously foreign to him. He came out looking like the front man.

We celebrated our man-primping with dinner at the Fodder Factory, our favorite village spot, and attracted some attention from the locals. The next day we headed to San Li Tun, a Westernized area of town where we were having suits made for us by an English-speaking tailor named Amanda. Geoff and I had stopped in earlier in the week to have our measurements taken, and four days later we were ready for our fitting. I had a custom two-button suit made for me—thin lapel, narrow and tapered leg, double-vented back—as well as a shirt made for roughly $185. This could be dangerous.

1. Feel free to consult my high school prom photos if you’re curious what inverted sideburns look like.