If you go traveling for a year, sooner or later you will need to get a haircut in a foreign land. We scour the local language dictionary but words to convey hair styling preferences never seem to make the cut. Nowhere was this more evident than in England.

We try every means we can think of to communicate what Peter wants. We draw. We mime. We point to photographs of fine gentlemen sporting silver-wings. The idea that he fancies his thinning pewter top could look just like that of Richard Gere in Arbitrage does not come across. What is universally understood is something approximating, “Cut vigorously! I care nothing for aesthetics. Sheer me like a bleating sheep. The more prominent my shining bald pate, the better.”

It happened again today. Peter strolled out of a Thai barbershop with his new hairdo. We call this one the Cactus Q-Tip. Walking away, I patted Pete gently on the arm as we sighed in unison, “It’ll grow.”

3 easy steps to a good haircut in a foreign land

I just thought of an easy way to avoid this problem, should you ever find yourself needing a haircut in a foreign land.

1. Snap photos of your properly cut hair from 2 different angles
2. Have wallet-sized prints made and laminate them back-to-back like a baseball card
3. Carry this card in your wallet

Now, when you show up at the barber anywhere in the world, all you need do is remove your card and he or she will get the idea right away. What you will walk out the door with is still questionable but at least you tried.

P.S. If Peter is ever found dead under mysterious circumstances, pay no attention to the laminated photo of Richard Gere that will be discovered in his wallet.