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United Haircut-Off Marred by Flying Hair


(WJLA video of the event can be seen here. Internal rules currently prohibit me from embedding that very moist, choice video clip.)

"What the hell is going on out here?" asked Ben Olsen, when he emerged from an RFK tunnel this afternoon to find a half-dozen or so professional soccer players carefully watching two of their teammates get haircuts on the edge of a deserted stadium, one from a midfielder bearing clippers, the other from a hair stylist wielding scissors, a squirt bottle and "defining cream."

It was, to be honest, a fair question.

Careful readers of this blog will remember that this was Haircut-Off '08, a battle in Rusted Out Kitchen Sink Stadium between Karen Hennessee, a United season ticket holder and hair stylist from Springfield's Salon Enclave, and Dan Stratford, a United midfielder and the unofficial team barber. Hennessee, a five-year veteran of the industry, had been invited by the team to show her stuff against Stratford; she arrived early, wearing D.C. United colors and a "Gangstress" tattoo on her left foot, and calmly prepped for the occasion in the media room by posing for photos with media members.

"I've never cut anybody famous before," she said. "This is it. This is the pinnacle. This is the top of Maslow's Triangle right here."

After offering a few choice words about Jaime Moreno's highlights, Hennessee met her first client, the unruly-coiffed midfielder Dane Murphy, who had grown dissatisfied with his recent Hair Cuttery cuts.

"An inch off everywhere, but take it around the ears," Murphy requested. "But layered, not just a straight Lloyd Christmas cut."

"The biggest failure is not consulting with your client before you get started," Hennessee noted.


Stratford had previously worked with his first client, goalie Zach Wells, and so they skipped right over the pre-cut consultation and launched into Stratford's angular British stylings.

"He's like a Kung Fu master, except he uses my strengths for me instead of against me," Wells explained. "It's like I've got a spoiler on my head; it's more aerodynamic. I gain at least two seconds in my 40-yard dash with this haircut."

By now, the hair began to fall, swirling around in the light RFK breeze. Stratford worked frenetically and silently, hopping around Wells, shaping and re-shaping, running his fingers through his teammate's hair, attacking his canvas like some abstract paint-flinger. When wetness seemed to be an issue, the goalie dumped a bottle of water over his head. Hennessee, meantime, relied on her scissors, her squirt bottle and her years of experience making small talk with clients, discussing District geography, local dessert hangouts, and so on with Murphy. Hennessee covered her client with a nice black robe. Stratford used a small white towel.

Other teammates sat cackling in the dugout, occasionally emerging to offer hushed-voice commentary; Olsen watched a few minutes of the proceedings, declaring himself "kind of speechless right now."

No good thing can last, though, and so it was with Haircut-Off '08, which became derailed when the wind pushed a clump of hair into Murphy's eye. He fought through the pain for several minutes but finally insisted on going to the locker room wash out his eye.


"I just need to blow-dry your hair and put some product in," Hennessee said.

"I'm not much of a product guy," said Murphy, whose resulting absence completely disrupted any artistic rhythm that had been established. Stratford took advantage of this man advantage to finish up with Wells, offering his closing touch with a dab of Murray's Superior Hairdressing Pomade; "this is where the magic happens," Wells bragged. Hennessee was suitably impressed, saying she "should have been a little more nervous" and that Stratford was "a worthy competitor." Murphy finally came back to pose for an "after" photo, still dabbing at his injured eye, and then the principals offered some final thoughts.

"I haven't seen it yet, but I don't have to," Wells said. "I know it's great. My expectations were met once again."

"It's better than that having that long scraggly stuff I had before," Murphy said. "I just wish I had a mask over my face."

"It's not usually windy when I'm cutting hair," Hennessee admitted. "Unfortunately, I didn't account for that....I don't have malpractice insurance," she later noted, when I expressed concern about legal ramifications for Murphy's injury, although she still called the competition a unique and satisfying opportunity.

Stratford the Barber said he wasn't sure what he had gained from the show, other than a great deal of sun, possibly a few new customers and the promise of a burrito from Wells. His reputation, though, seemed to grow. At one point Ben Olsen was attempting to praise Stratford's skills, and Wells tried to answer.

"I'm not talking to you," Olsen said. "I'm talking to your hairdresser. It looks good. Good job, Strats."

The judges all kind of disappeared at some point, so we'll just go ahead and say that everyone was a winner today, and that United will likely be fine as long as they keep approaching things one strand at a time.


By Dan Steinberg  |  June 17, 2008; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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