HAIR TODAY, 
GONE TOMORROW

   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 actually admire.
   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 in vogue.
   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 new "doo."
   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 you?"
   "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 not.
   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 positive reinforcement.
   "Get ready," I announced as I turned the corner to enter her room at the nursing home. "You're going to love the new me."
   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.
 

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