About six weeks ago, after giving the idea approximately 35 years of careful consideration, I decided to change my hairstyle. Such decisions are not to be taken lightly, especially when one has hair like mine.
I was either blessed or cursed, depending on my mood, with wavy or curly, depending on the style, hair. Through much of my teens I hated my hair. I wanted straight hair that I could grow long so I could look like the Beatles, but it was not to be. However, about the time I left for college, a hairstyle known as the Afro became popular, first with the African-American community and later with curly-headed guys like me.
Through experimentation I discovered that if I washed my long hair and let it dry without combing or brushing it, I had a decent ’fro. If I couldn’t look like John Lennon, at least I could look like Jimi Hendrix.
But all good things must come to an end, and eventually the Afro’s popularity waned. My barber at the time suggested I start brushing my hair straight back. This seemed to do a pretty good job of taming my curls, or at least pushing them to the back of my head where I couldn’t see them when looking in the mirror.
So that’s been my look since 1980, with the length varying slightly depending on the season.
However, I now have considerably less hair on my head than I had in 1980. Recently I began to notice that much of the hair I was brushing from the front was actually covering up a bald spot in the back. More like a comb-back than a comb-over.
It was pretty obvious I wasn’t fooling anyone, so recently I decided to shake things up. I went to my barber, Carl, and told him I wanted my hair cut really short all over.
“Uhh … OK, OK,” he replied with a facial expression that said, “Are you nuts?”
But I was persistent, and after I convinced him that my wife, Brenda, would not hold him personally responsible for the outcome, he proceeded to cut it extremely short. I liked it. About a month later I went back to Carl and asked him to cut it even shorter this time.
After I convinced him yet again that Brenda has never attacked a barber, he cut it shorter. I liked it even more.
Following my shower the next day, as I was admiring my new hairstyle in the mirror, I saw a tiny spot on top that looked a little too long. This happens. You can’t really judge a haircut until after you’ve washed your hair, right?
The smart thing to do at that point would have been to go back to Carl. But Carl’s a busy man, and I probably shouldn’t bother him with such a trifling detail, I told myself. And besides, with this electric trimmer it will take just a second to fix this.
Apparently, once you turn 62 that thing we call better judgment takes early retirement. I touched the clipper to the top of my head and heard “bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” as the blades cleared a patch all the way down to bare scalp.
I panicked. In my mind I pictured Brenda and Carl flipping a coin to see who would kill me first. Applying the same logic that got me in this situation in the first place, I thought, “Calm down, you can fix this.”
Wrong again, boy wonder. By the time Brenda finished repairing the damage — and laughing — I had a really nice haircut … for a monk.
But the nice thing about hair is that it grows back … at least until it falls out for good. So while I wait for my follicles to cure my folly, I’m making the best of my brief stint as a 6-year-old with scissors. I’m answering to “Buzz,” laughing at jokes about glare, wearing a ball cap more than normal and applying sunscreen to my newly exposed dome.
But most of all, I’m dreading my next appointment with Carl.