I know Samson is supposed to be a tragic figure, but these days I envy him. After all, he had a woman who’d cut his hair.
My wife, on the other hand, absolutely refuses to help keep me coifed. Whenever I plead with her, she mutters something about an oath to God she made decades ago after some incident involving her and scissors that proved to be particularly barberous.
You’d think she’d be apologetic and sympathetic to my plight, but I’ve heard her on more than one phone conversation with her friends. She’ll say, “He’s growing—a mullet! and then she’ll laugh her head off. I thought I was the humorist in the family. I guess she’s getting me back for my very funny essay “My Wife Is an Alien.”
I haven’t been to a barber in over 7 months, so I’ve had to take matters into my own hands. I can keep the front of my hair in semi-decent shape with my beard trimmer, but the back of my head is a lost cause. Yes, I could go to a professional barber, but the COVID pandemic has given new meaning to the phrase “a haircut to die for.”
I could also just ignore the back and let it grow as it will. But even though I’m in lockdown, my locks won’t stay down. The longer my hair gets, the more it curls, and every time it brushes the back of one of my ears, which is often, I think a mosquito or a biting gnat or fly has landed on me, and I reflexively swat my own ear. Furthermore, my hair has grown farther down on my neck than it has since I was in college back in the 70’s, so I’m constantly thinking a spider or an ant is crawling on my neck, and, again, I slap myself. I guess you could say my long hair is bugging me.
So a few weeks ago, I tried by myself to cut my hair in back. I stood at the bathroom sink in front of the medicine cabinet mirror, but facing away from this mirror, and held a small mirror in one hand and an electric beard trimmer in the other. I could easily see what needed to be done with this setup, but as soon as I tried to put the trimmer where I wanted it and at the angle I wanted it, the insanity began. I might as well have been trying to cut my hair left-handed while cross-eyed and standing on my head. Both up and down as well as left and right were reversed in the mirror image of the mirror image of my head’s rear. I think compared to what I was attempting, backing a semi trailer through an obstacle course blindfolded would be easy. I couldn’t do it any more than I could play concert piano while reading the sheet music through tinted swim goggles. And I’m talking “Flight of the Bumblebee,” a piece, as I understand it, that is particularly hairy.
I finally settled for grabbing the large curly tufts that were most likely to tickle my ears, then putting down the handheld mirror and slicing the tuft off with my trimmer. As I said, I don’t think I’ll ever be a pianist—but I do have a nice little start on becoming a butcher.
Afterwards, I cleaned up the hellacious mess and never told my wife. I don’t want to be providing her any new material for her standup-comic-by-telephone career.
Making fun of me, dammit, is my job.
Bill Spencer is author of Uranus Is Always Funny: Short Essays to Make You Laugh.