I was shitfaced.
TBH, I was beyond shitfaced.
After drinking a 12-pack of PBR and a fifth of Smirnoff all before noon it was a wonder I could still put one foot in front of the other. Yet here I was doing just that, walking down Ventura Blvd in all my intoxicated glory.
It was the spring of 2011 and for the past two months I’d been living my life in a cruel, chemical dependent loop.
Wake up, drink to kill the pain. Go to the bar, drink to kill the pain. Go home, drink and pop some Xanax to kill the pain. Pass out, dream of drinking to kill the pain. Wake up, repeat. Today was no different than the 60 or so days that had come before it.
Research has shown that on average it takes 67 days of doing the same thing over and over again for it to become a habit, good or bad. And while I didn’t know what day I was on I knew I had to be close to hitting that magical number that separates the part-time fuck-ups from the full-time fuck-ups. I needed to do something to turn my life around and I needed to do it fast.
So it was on this day (Tuesday? Saturday?) that I decided I was going to change the self-destructive course I’d been on. I had a plan to make everything better and that plan was simple.
I was going to enroll at the Paul Mitchell School for Hair.
Some people go to rehab to fix themselves, others turn to God.
I was so hammered I thought hair school was the answer.
Most stylists, when asked why they chose to do hair, will say something profound like they knew from an early age that they wanted to do hair or that hair had always been their calling.
Yeah, not me.
In the 37 years I’d been on this earth NOT ONCE had the thought of doing hair crossed my mind. It wasn’t something I’d wanted to do from an early age and it sure as shit hadn’t called me.
So why the sudden interest?
Well, even though I’d never gotten the official call to do hair this whole idea did start with a phone call. Earlier in the day my friend Jay had called me while I was having a balanced breakfast of screwdrivers and cigarettes.
Jay had been doing hair his entire life and I’d met him years ago when he opened a salon next to a restaurant I worked at. He’d come in to grab some food, we’d talk and over time we forged a friendship that lasted long after I quit the restaurant.
Jay was vacationing in Thailand but was aware of the toxic binge I’d been on as of late and since I was supposed to be his ride home from the airport in a few days he wanted to make sure I wasn’t in the morgue, hospital or jail so I could still pick him up.
After I assured him I wasn’t dead, dying or incarcerated and that I’d be his taxi from LAX, he started raging about his time in Thailand.
“Stuke, there’s no way to describe it other than paradise. I can’t remember the last time I was taken by a country’s beauty, culture and people.”
As I sat there drinking, smoking and listening to him go on about how awesome his trip was an idea started to form in my head.
I should do hair.
I mean why not?
It had worked out for Jay. He had money, a house and was always traveling to some far-off exotic place to do whatever his gay heart desired so why couldn’t I do hair and have a life filled with money and fun?
PLUS, there was a Paul Mitchell School nearby. I could enroll today and be on my way to the good life tomorrow, not to mention having to attend school every day would be the perfect distraction from all the drinking and pill popping I’d been doing on a regular basis.
“The only thing that rivals Thailand’s splendor is its debauchery.” Jay went on with a longing sigh. “I’ve been all over the world and this place is hands on THE KINKIEST I’ve been in…or that’s been in me. Tell me, have you ever been part of a 12 man-gangbang? Wait, you’re not gay, forget I asked that. But sweet lord layin’ the pipe do they know how to party here…”
While Jay kept talking, going further and further down the glory hole of his X-rated escapades, the more I kept thinking that my idea to do hair wasn’t just a good idea, it was a fucking great idea. Sure, the decision was rash, impulsive and a little hasty but fuck it, fortune favors the bold, yeah? Besides, what else was I going to do with my life? Work at Trader Joes?
So I decided then and there that I would pursue a career in the hair industry and the first person to hear about this should be Jay because he was the one that had inadvertently inspired me to do hair while talking about how much his cock had been banged in Bangkok.
“You know they call Thailand the Land of Smiles? And seriously the only time I couldn’t smile was when my mouth was full of two big di-“
“I’m gonna be a hairdresser!” I screamed, interrupting him.
I figured he’d be flattered. I thought he’d be thrilled, but in the end…
“Don’t be a fucking moron.”
“First off, no one in MY industry calls themselves a ‘hairdresser’. It’s not the fucking 50’s. We’re ‘stylists’ Ok? And if you were serious about becoming one you’d have known that small but important detail. Second, it’s a HUGE mistake. HUGE!”
“Dude, you’re supposed to be my friend, friends support one another.”
“I am your friend and friends don’t support stupid ideas.”
“What’s so stupid about it?”
“Like in all the years I’ve known you not once have you mentioned doing hair. Not once.”
“So. People change…take different paths.”
“They do, but all you’ve been doing is drinking…a lot. Wanting to do hair comes from the heart, not the bottle. You have to have a passion for it and you’ve never, ever, EVER shown a passion for it.”
“Fine! Then I’ll be the most dispassionate ‘STYLIST’ the world has ever seen!”
“Are you even listening to yourself right now?”
“No because I’m too busy listening to you crush my dream.”
“Get over it, hair has never been a “dream” of yours. The only dream you’ve ever had was wanting to be a rockstar and fuck hot girls.”
“That was an admirable dream and after all this I’m surprised you didn’t try to crush that one too!”
“Listen, Stupid I have neither the time nor the patience to continue this conversation so make sure to pick me up from the airport next Monday…and don’t drink and drive!”
“Fine, I’ll drink BEFORE I drive.”
“You’ll do no such thing.”
Then he hung up.
I sat there stunned by his lack of support and enthusiasm in regard to my new career choice and in retrospect I may have given his fierce discouragement some credibility had I been sober.
But I wasn’t.
So despite his opposition to me doing hair I was gonna go through with it anyway. I was gonna show him and the rest of the world that I could do whatever the fuck I wanted and right now what I wanted was to become a ‘stylist’ even if that decision was based on nothing more than drunken impulse, reckless abandon and a complete disregard for unintended consequences.
So here I was on this bright spring day walking in a semi-straight line towards my new life. Today was the day that I would turn shit around, I was going to kick-ass and take names. I was going to become the biggest, baddest motherfucker with a pair of shears. And as I got to the intersection of Ventura and Sepulveda where the Paul Mitchell School was located I realized something I hadn’t noticed earlier…my god damn shoes were mismatched.