O Justin, Where Art Thou?

I had a very rude awakening today.

Now I'm not a vain guy. I'm sure some of my friends would say that I don't really care enough about my apperance. (I like sandals, dammit, and it IS summer-time ... although yes, they might not be "going out" material ...) All of my clothes (except one sweater) can be washed together in hot water. I have pretty much two pairs of functional shoes. And my theory on hairstyles has always been, "it doesn't really matter how it's cut, it'll grow back."

For four years in Boston I went to Louie's barber shop on Commonwealth Ave. This Italian guy, Louie, was the most popular, heck - it was his shop, so I always went to the dude in the back who smelled. Then my Senior year they replaced him with this other dude, so I went to him. Whatever. He did a fine job, and if he didn't, it'll grow back.

When I moved to LA I didn't think much would change. I remember going to this one salon-thing in Glendale my first summer here. The old lady barely touched my hair, I don't think she could really see too well, and then just put a bunch of gel in my hair and sent me off. It was standing straight on end - quite possibly the world's weirdest 'do. (Sorry Nate.) I was so astounded that I drove right home to show my brother, who laughed out loud that the lady let me leave the store like this.

Interesting epilogue - less than a month later the salon was torn down and a new convience store was erected in it's place.

So for my first year I bounced from salon to salon, not really building that rapport that one generally has with his or her hair care provider.

Then I met Justin.

Justin worked at the Fantastic Sams in Studio City, at the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura. It was right close to my new Valley Village home, and open late. And Justin really did a fine job with my hair.

But the best part of my overweight, gay hairstylist was his love of Star Trek. Justin was the perfect stereotype for both gay men and Trekkies. Two very different worlds, meeting in one very different dude. Honestly, it would have been laugh-out-loud funny, if Justin wasn't such a nice guy.

And, see, I'm a bit of a trekkie myself. Amatuer stuff only, really - I liked The Next Generation back in the day, and the last season of Deep Space Nine is some of the best TV ever. Voyager sucks - end of story. But that's not what Justin thought. Every month we'd debate this, though. He wasn't much of a Deep Space Nine guy, he was more of a Captain Kirk guy. He was more of a boldly going where no man has ... wait, no, that's too easy, I'm not going there.

Regardless, we'd have fun debates on Sisko versus Krik versus Picard versus ... that chick there, the leader of the Voyager people. Janeway. Yeah, that's it. Janeway.

After I moved out of Valley Village to Hollywood, and then to Burbank, I continued to trek to Studio City on Saturday mornings for my haircut/Star Trek debate.

Sure, every once and a while Justin would get a little creepy. One time I was talking about my normal family and my normal Thanksgiving and he told me to spice it up by coming out of the closet. In the middle of my normal Thanksgiving. Uh, I know that's a joke, sorta, but still, what response do you give, I mean, other than nervous laughter?

Then he'd get Trekkie-creepy, telling me about his idea for the next Star Trek series, then how elements of his unnamed, unseen series were stolen for this fall's coming "Enterprise". Yeah, I bet Rick Berman and Brandon Braga were rifling through your filing cabnits when you were at work cutting my hair. More nervous laughter.

In the end, however, Justin was a much more amusing haircutter than most I have dealt with. And he did a good job with my hair, too, so why would I complain?

Sadly all this came crashing down today when I went into Fantastic Sams and I didn't see Justin. Now, these kinds of chains like to move the haircutter-people around in the store - sometimes he'll be at the first chair on the left, sometimes the second chair on the right. Heck, once he even went on vacation.

This morning was different. Something felt wrong. I asked, "Is Justin in today?" as I am oft to do, and the receptionist lady said, "Justin doesn't work here anymore."

"Oh. Do you know if he's working somewhere else?"


"Okay. Um, I'll just get a haircut then."

And a nice older lady cut my hair for me. But then she started asking what my plans were for the day, the weekend, etc. I wanted to make up a story about Klingons and Warp Cores and Phasers, but I didn't. I said that I was running to the grocery store, doing general errands. She made a little more small talk, but she had a thick accent and over the clippers I couldn't make out very much of the conversation. I just smiled and tried not to nod.

When I got home that afternoon, I turned on the TV. Now, for some reason our antenna (no, we don't have cable) picks up Fox 6 from San Diego. This usually only works late at night, usually in time for the Fox 6 News at Ten. Dude, I love the newswomen there - Estha Trouw and Kelly Krapf are so cute they could report a busload of nuns and orphans blowing up and I'd still smile. Regardless, I turned on the TV at 5 or 5:30 and we were getting Fox 6. Odd, I thought. Then the commercials ended, and Star Trek: The Next Generation came on.

Spooky, eh?

So I have several theories here. One is that something horrible has befallen Justin, and his spirit reached out through the airwaves and brought Fox 6 to my TV. Or the other is that Section 31 has come back in time to kidnap Justin to negotiate a treaty between the Borg and the Federation.

Of course Justin could have moved to another salon.

Lastly, and possibly the most outlandish theory, this fall I'm going to be watching the credits of "Enterprise" extra carefully, looking for the name Justin in there. Hey, this IS Hollywood, after all ...

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