Before I begin this story, I think it’s important to note that it happened on my birthday. There are a lot of other qualifiers I wanted to include, but I decided that was the most important one, because if I’d been at a spa getting a facial and a massage this would have never happened.
Keep that in mind. It was my birthday. You can’t get mad at a person on their birthday…
I started cutting Tom’s hair for him when we got engaged, which means I’ve been doing it for about 6 years. I hate doing it; I’ve always hated it. To this day, we have an actual fight every single time he asks me to cut his hair. I wrote about cutting Tom’s hair way back when I gave David his first haircut:
“…cutting Tom’s hair is a horrible chore. If you want specifics, come over for dinner and maybe that’ll give me enough time to explain what it’s like to pick tiny shards of hair out of my clothes for months. Plus, I like Tom’s hair when it’s long and curly. After 4+ years of this nonsense, Tom gives me a few weeks of warning so I can prepare myself emotionally and physically. And even then I drag my feet. He starts the cut on his own and I have no choice but to fix it.”
This is how it all started. Tom needed a haircut. He asked me and I pouted so he went to the bathroom and cut most of his hair himself. When he was done, I did my best to act like an adult and finish the cut with a good attitude. On my birthday.
Before Tom called for me, I’d just been reading about Grey Gardens and, have you ever heard of Grey Gardens? Click that link, it’s totally fascinating. You’ll completely understand why I walked into the bathroom telling Tom all about this weird mother-daughter-mental health- high society thing I’d just spend the past 30 minutes clicking through Wikipedia and Google image searches. I was SO distracted by myself, in fact, that I picked up the clippers and started cutting without noticing that the guard was off the razor until I’d shaved about six inches up Tom’s head.
Immediately, I thought about how I couldn’t wait until this was one of those things we could think back about and laugh.
I put down the clippers. All I could say was, “I’m sorry.”
Tom put his head in his hands, “How bad is it?”
I wanted to say, “It’s ‘make your wife cut your hair on HER BIRTHDAY bad,” but I didn’t. Instead I said, “It’s bad. It’s worse than you think. It’s very bad.”
I started coming up with ideas, bright sides. There are men, lots of men, who shave their hair that closely. Close shaved hair, in fact, is in style now! Tom, call your brother. Your brother will know what to do.
All the while, I wouldn’t let him touch his head. I knew it would just make things worse if he knew how bad it looked. At this point he still thought that it was maybe okay. He even suggested, maybe people wouldn’t notice?
No, Tom. People will notice.
It reminded me of the time we were playing football and I collided with a friend. Almost immediately my eye started swelling, and Tom wouldn’t let me look in the mirror or touch it because he was worried I’d pass out if I knew how grotesque it looked. But at that point I could see my eyebrow so I knew something wasn’t right.
I feel like I need to say that it wasn’t totally my fault. Tom took the guard off the razor to clean it, then put it down without replacing the guard. I just assumed it was on. Anyone would assume it was on. The thing I can’t explain is how I cut that much without noticing.
The next morning, at 8 a.m., Tom went downtown to a trendy men’s salon. He got a “fade” — which is actually a stylish haircut for guys. It was the first time he’d paid to get a haircut since he lived in India and paid a quarter per cut.
If you happened to notice that Tom’s hair was really, really short in late August, now you know why.
While the stylist expertly fixed Tom’s hair, he laughed, “Well! I guess we learned an important lesson! I guess we learned we shouldn’t let our wife cut our hair!”
Tom’s hair looked great, and I celebrated the possibility that I’d gotten myself fired. But when he told me what the stylist said, the defensive, indignant, middle child in me roared.
Um, excuse me? He said what? Did this joker know it was my birthday?
After more than six years of haircuts, this was my first real mistake. A friend of mine pointed out, that’s actually not a bad record. It’s actually an impressive track record.
It’s been almost two months and I really like how Tom’s hair is growing out. A bit longer on the top, a bit shorter on the sides. Since the day he got it cut, he’s never gotten more compliments on his hair.
Tom is maybe a month or so out from needing another haircut. In that time I need to figure out what angle I want to take in the future, my impressive track record, or my one gross, flagrant error.
I already know which angle Tom will take. If he has to choose between paying for a haircut and handing me the clippers, I know exactly what he’d pick.
But it’s not because he’s forgiving. No, that’s not it at all. It’s because, to Tom, the only thing worse than a surprise stripe shaved up your head is paying for a haircut.