My hair stylist, if you can call her that, retired about a
month ago. She had cut my hair for the last 30 years, and she was quite
possibly the worst hair stylist that ever walked the Earth.
I once referred a friend to her, and he used her exactly one
time. Ever since, he's asked if I'm still going to "The Butcher."
But she was always available, probably because I was one of her few regular
customers, and I liked that. And I'm nothing if not loyal.
So I was kind of excited when she told me she was retiring. I
could finally move on, and find someone who had some sense of style. I was
looking forward to becoming hip, with one of those haircuts that people
A couple of weeks ago, I made the call. Same place, new blood.
Just like my old "stylist," the new one was readily available. I
walked in, introduced myself, and told her I wanted a haircut that would
turn heads when I walked down the street.
She went to work, a little too quickly for my tastes. And it
was probably not a good sign when some loose hairs fell onto my forehead and
she dismissed them by blowing them away. With her mouth. Seriously. I
immediately realized this was not going to be a 30 year relationship.
10 minutes later, I looked up from my magazine and realized my
old stylist was the second worst that ever walked the Earth.
"Cut it all off," I quickly suggested, realizing it
was the only reasonable alternative unless the lopsided look happened to be
Five minutes later, I had the haircut that would certainly turn
heads. I walked back to my office and waited for the accolades to pour in.
The nicest comment was when someone just looked at me and said,
"No." Others ranged from "I hate it" to "You look
so much older," to "You're much balder than I thought."
There was one positive comment, but it was from a fellow male,
and I think he relished how much better he looked in comparison.
The big test, though, was yet to come. I headed home, where my
lovely, sympathetic wife would surely shower me with compliments. She had
urged me for years to dump my old stylist and find someone new. She couldn't
complain now, I thought, as I theatrically opened the door and displayed my
I'm not sure if howling with laughter is a positive or
negative, but I'm guessing the latter.
"You've got to be kidding me?" she said when she
finally stopped laughing. "You didn't go back to that same place, did
"I think I look like Matt Lauer," I meekly responded,
referring to NBC's Today show host.
That prompted a few more chuckles. "Well, you are both
Caucasian," she replied.
I was clearly not going to convince her that the haircut was a
success. In fact, the only way to finally quiet the criticism was to
promise, once and for all, to find a new place to cut my hair in the future.
"The Butcher" and her successor were done.
I went into the bathroom and checked myself in the mirror. Not
so bad. People just couldn't handle change. I rubbed my hand over my head,
feeling the stubble. I'll save on shampoo, I won't have to waste time
brushing, and I can open the window of my car without mussing up my hair on
one side. There were all kinds of positives.
I just needed some positive feedback, preferably from a woman.
I suddenly missed my mother, who died a couple of years ago. She loved
everything about me, as mothers should. She thought I was a good dancer. She
thought I could sing. She thought I was a good dresser. All of which I'm
Then I remembered the last time I had a drastic haircut. It was
a few years ago and reactions were about the same. Just like now, I remember
thinking that at least my mother would like it, so off I went for some
"Get ready," I announced as I turned the corner to
enter her room at the nursing home. "You're going to love the new
I take full credit for prolonging her life. Because after she
recovered from the grisly shock (and stopped laughing), she pledged to live
long enough to see my hair grow back.