Monday, August 3, 2009

Commandment #11: Don’t Blame Me

For better or for worse, I am rarely commanded by my husband to do anything. So when he showed up in the kitchen a few weeks ago with his Little Sport Buzzer in hand, I was under the mistaken impression that he was about to lodge a request.

He told me he needed me to cut his hair and at first I thought he meant just redefine the hairline at the back of his neck, a task I am somewhat competent at. But he meant so much more than that.

He wanted me to “take a lot off the back and sides, and leave it long on the top.” He’s speaking to me like I’m a barber, I thought.

“I can’t do that,” I said. “I’m really bad at cutting hair.”

He pushed the buzzer into my palm and closed my fingers around it. “Just do it,” he said.

I’m making it sound like there was some urgency about it – as if he were leaving moments later for the Witness Protection Program – but that’s not how it was. He was unhurried, yet insistent.

The Little Sport Buzzer is cute. It’s cream colored with a little red logo and, just like a real barber’s buzzer, it has several clip-on heads, each numbered to denote how close a cut it provides. The smaller the number, the shorter the shearing. The only head Scott could find that day was a #1.

Number ones give you a haircut like a Marine. There’s no margin for error. The only way to “fix” a mistake is to go shorter, which is to say, bald.

“I can’t,” I said, still unable to believe he even suggested my doing this in the first place.

He settled himself on a chair in front of me. “It’s just like editing,” he said. “Just take some of the bulk away.”

Buzzing someone’s hair is nothing like editing. For one very important thing, if you take a sentence out of a paragraph and realize you’ve made things worse by doing so, you can return it to its rightful place in a matter of seconds. There are probably a dozen other ways buzzing and editing differ, and maybe another dozen that they’re alike, and much as I tried to engage Scott in a diverting dialogue about it, he wouldn’t bite.

“C’mon,” he said. “Just cut.”

So I cut. And it was awful. I ended up calling Tracey The Friend Who Can Do Anything and, to the best of her ability, she fixed my husband’s hair.

Two weeks later, Scott found the other buzzer attachments, numbers two through four. He talked me into cutting his hair again, and then again a few weeks after that. In some ways things got better and in some ways they got worse. By my third cut, I managed to avoid shaving out big holes of hair. But ultimately, he ended up looking like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals; every time he pushed the long top hair away from his face, pieces of it would stick straight up toward heaven.

Finally, this past Saturday, I insisted he get a proper and professional haircut.

“Do not tell her I was the one who did that to you,” I said as he left the house.

“Your wish is my command.”

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