Most bald people probably fantasize that getting a haircut would change how the world sees them and they see it.
That’s why I’m probably the kind of hair-ed person they curse the most. I have a head full of thick, long hair, yet it takes me forever to get around to making an appointment to get it cut. Like cleaning a messy closet or getting an oil change, it’s always a relief afterward, but I put it off endlessly nonetheless. Hair elastics and turbans were clearly invented with people like me in mind.
Last week, for the second time in 15 months, I got my hair cut.
“Are you going to get a Mom Cut?” my husband Rick asked as I walked out the door to go to the salon. He’s asked the same question every time I’ve gotten my hair cut for the past five or six years.
I always call him on the way home to say not only did I get a Mom Cut, but I got The Carol Brady Special — helmet-shaped on top with an upside down, paper-hand fan shape along the back of the neck. He always says he’ll love me anyway. One day I just might actually get a Mom Cut and then we’ll see if he’s really a man of his word. (Of course, this is coming from the same person who also believed I was a natural blonde. After I ceased getting highlights about three years ago, Rick looked at me several months later and asked if I had dyed my hair brown. Bless his heart.)
When I was in sixth grade I ripped out an ad from Seventeen Magazine with an angry-looking model hawking gum.
“This is how I want my hair cut,” I announced to my mom, showing her the picture.
“Hmmm, OK,” she said. “Just bring the picture when we go to the salon. I’m not sure if your hair type can do that, but we’ll ask them.”
“No, I want to go alone,” I told her for no memorable reason.
After the haircut I went up the block to browse at the bookstore, feeling especially sleek and mature with my new hairstyle.
“Can I help you, young man?” the salesperson asked. I burst into tears. To this day, if I had my way, I’d still bring my mom with me every time I get my hair cut. Just to be safe.
Before and since, I’ve never been a big risk taker when it comes to haircuts. When I got 3 or 4 inches chopped off last week, I told the stylist that I wanted longer layers in the front. I didn’t realize I needed to specify that I still wanted my hair all one length. Now the pieces in front are a little longer than the back and I’ve been feeling self-conscious, like I might be trying to appear hipper than I am, or I’m a very religious Jewish man.
No matter how short I cut my hair, though, my dad’s always telling me to get it shorter. But he’s bald, and, I think, jealous. Clearly, misery loves company.
My daughter hasn’t had a haircut yet even though she has a lot of hair for her age. I’d be proud of it if it was something she or I accomplished, but I don’t think either one of us can take credit. I actually knew she had a lot of hair when I was pregnant with her. Once during a sonogram they told me she had hair on her neck.
“Do you mean her hair is so long it’s grown down to her neck, or she has a hairy neck?” I asked the nurse, panicked, realizing that having a bad hair day in utero does not bode well for hair life outside the womb. To be on the safe side, I stocked up on Aqua Net and tracked down Vidal Sassoon, who’s agreed to be permanently on call.
Like me, getting Rick to get his hair cut is always a struggle. He starts talking about the need to get one 10 to 12 weeks before it actually happens. He creates dramatic excuses for each time why he has to put it off another week. He’s the finest method actor I know who’s never actually taken a drama class. Lee Strasberg would be proud.
I’ve actually cut Rick’s hair the last few times. Even though I’m the furthest thing from a beautician, the results haven’t been too bad. Plus, I’ve found I really enjoy standing over him with a pair of scissors and a razor. I assume he thinks it’s what death row feels like after all appeals have been exhausted.
Each time I just tell him what I always tell myself — even if it’s a bad cut, it’ll grow back. Except for the bald people. (Sorry, again.)
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