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Wed, Oct. 16

Williams: I refuse to quiff

DISCLAIMER: With the exception of one haircut name that I made up, all the following hair styles are real. So there!

I like to keep things in my life simple. When I go to the barbershop here in Chino Valley, I (almost) always ask for the same type of haircut. One reason I stick with one tried and true do is that I no longer qualify for the styles that involve combing, waving, styling, teasing or blow-drying. It’s a genetic and old-age thing. In recent years I’ve shuffled past the “receding” category of hair ownership. I’m now a full-vested member in the “recollection” category of once owning hair.

So, when I enter Birdie’s Salon de Wisps-on-the-Floor, I ask Dana to trim any stray follicles that haven’t yet swirled down the shower drain. While our in-the-chair conversations are normally robust, animated journeys into the absurd spiced only occasionally with reality, we don’t discuss the hair coloring and styling options that are available to her other customers. And for that I’m grateful.

I don’t have to make a decision whether I want a taper fade, low fade, high fade, mid fade, temple fade, bald/skin fade or an Afro-fade cut. My choices have literally already faded. The fade, I’ve learned, is going from almost no hair to some hair on the sides.

I don’t have to select an undercut-comb-over pomp, a messy textured-top undercut fade, or one of the thirty-seven types of pompadour coifs. A pompadour style leaves a glop of hair on the top with closely trimmed sides.

All this leads inexorably to the quaff, which is similar to a pompadour, but instead of combing the top glop of hair backward, the quiff cleverly cascades the hair forward toward the forehead. Some sort of side fade is usually incorporated with this style. Quiff category selections include the textured modern or spiky variations. I think Dana has a poster on her wall that says “If you don’t quiff it, you’re not with it.” Once again, I guess I’m left out of the main stream of modern thought.

If you think the foregoing are all of your options, you are radically wrong, Ralph. Those among us who are adventurous might prefer the faux-hawk, the fringe, the side part, the spiky, the top knot or the man bun styles. Personally, the only bun I want in my life is one that comes with butter.

Let’s develop some context here. Life in the 1800s was more challenging than it is today. One had to deal with the elements, rattlesnakes, health challenges and armed varmints of the two-legged variety. On the other hand, Joe who farmed twenty acres just outside of town, didn’t have to worry whether his disconnected fade cut would make the right impression at the feed store. We’re more sophisticated today than we were 150 years ago. But the subtleties of modern sophistication can frustrate one’s peace of mind – and one’s grooming decisions. Historically, haircuts were important to keep the hair out of our eyes. Today, we have to match our haircuts to our personalities, to our moods and to our sense of self, whatever the hell that is.

Should we choose the Caesar, the modern classic side cut, the flat top, the burr cut fade, the French cut fade, the texture cut, the short blunt crop, the pointed drop fade, the mid bald fade, the swept-up fade taper or the superimposed, striated stretch stubble cut?

As if men’s hair cuttery isn’t already overly complicated, I just found out there are some forty military types of mane management. God help us all. To comment on this column, email

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