When my husband’s grey hair gets long, it sticks straight out like he inserted his finger into an electrical socket. The tufts of hair above his ears stick out like a clown. He used to have thick, curly dark brown hair that looked gorgeous when it grew long. Back then, he looked like something out of “Braveheart.” Now he looks like something out of “One Few Over the Cuckoos Nest.” When I can no longer stand to look at him, I find the time to cut it.
Cutting my husband’s hair is one of my gauge’s in life, like children growing up. No parent can deny that the years are not speeding by when they see startling and rapid growth before their very eyes. Our single friends can deny anything is happening, that change is not occuring for a decade or more and then get slammed with a shocker. Few things shock parents when it comes to the passing of time. And I also bear witness to it when I peer into my husband’s pink scalp, wet and oily after he dampens his hair for a haircut. His scalp is more visible every time I give him a hair cut. More scalp, less hair, and it turns paler, losing its pigment.
My mother taught me how to cut hair as soon as Todd and I became serious in our relationship. I have been doing it now for thirty two years. Until my son decided he would be cooler with a “man bun,” I cut his hair too. Up until he was 23.
Bryce gave me grief during every single hair cut. He questioned what I was doing, how much I am taking off. He’d make me pause and run to the window on the sunroom, and check it out. “OK, looking good,” he’d compliment me. I tolerated the questioning and the doubting. I knew I was good. And, I told both of them anytime they wanted to go to Paul, the Kempton Barber, I’d even give them the money. I threatened for years, “This is the last time I am doing this. You will shut your mouth while I cut or I will not cut your hair.”
My boys secretely loved their haircuts or they wouldn’t keep coming back. It’s not a question of money when you can get a good professional cut around here for $8.00.
I like to cut my husband’s hair because it gives me a sense of power. I am in charge of his hygiene. And I like that. After all, I have to look at him.
I take his chin and move it around. I nudge his head. It is the only time I get to “push my husband around physically,” ha ha, albeit gently. I reprimand him for moving, for scratching the itchy cut hairs on his neck, for not keeping his head in the position where I move it to, for talking when I am working on his moustache, for petting the kitty with his foot. Most of the time though, he sits quietly like a good boy.
For many years, I made him separate his legs and I came into his crotch to get close to the front of his head to cut. He loved that. He pested me repeatedly about cutting his hair naked. “Take off your shirt,” he’d plead. I looked at him crooked. “I have a job to do. This is not fun and games.” Now I cut from the sides.
As time went by, I decided to cut his beard too, and then his eyebrows. I haven’t had to deal with the nose or the ears yet. I am not sure how I feel about the nose and the ears. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. There are many older men walking around with eyebrow hairs that curl and cover their eyes and actually impair their sight. I cannot for the life of me, understand why that is OK with them? They trim and manage their nails. They don’t let them grow and curl like crazy millionaire Howard Hughes did. No husband of mine is going to walk around with gorilla eyebrows. That’s why I get the scissors out myself and get the job done.
I tell my husband that his hygene is a reflection on his wife. I tell him that he will not be one of these greasy old men who don’t wash their hair, but comb their hair back making separated lines with the comb that remain, thinking if they comb it and it lays flat, it looks neat. It does not. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU DID NOT WASH YOUR HAIR FOR AGES!
When Todd picks up little balls of severed beard hair off his lap and remarks, “this stuff is like steel wool.” I respond, “I know. You rub it against my shoulder every night and I feel like I am getting road rash.”
My life as a barber made a 180 when I discovered and purchased a hair cutting/styling kit from Amazon. The electric razor kit comes with multi colored tips that snap on with measurements for different cutting lengths. There is even a tapered one for around the ears. I get such joy out of choosing colored tips to professionalize my work, even though I can never remember what length I use on his beard and have to make multiple tries.
I had a sharp learning curve with this tool the first few times. “Whoops!” I said when I saw a whole bunch of scalp skin appear after I took a pass and only 1/8 inch of hair remained. It looked as if I was aiming for the military shaved look on the sides. I HAD to do the other side once I slipped on the first to even it out. He knows when I begin to laugh out loud that something detrimental to his looks has just occurred.
Todd flinches every time I cut his beard- for 32 years now. He cannot relax. He says he can FEEL the scissors or the shaver on his skin. “Don’t make me look gay,” he begs, and cut it too short. He used to sport longish mountainman beards but not anymore. I think you have to be more careful when you are an older man. You can look shabby and downright scary with very little length.
He really tightens up when its time to trim his moustache. He is terrified I will cut his lip although I never did. I only ever accidently snipped his ear once and did not even break the skin.
When it is nice out, I cut his hair on the grass front yard and run a cord out for my electric hair cutter. If it’s cold, the job is done in the bathroom. He has to shake out the rug afterwards, sweep up the grey steel wool hairs with the dust pan and brush. I ask him afterwards, “Well, how does it look?”
“I didn’t look at it.” That’s how much he cares about how he looks.
When he finally does look in the mirror, he always says that it looks good and thanks me. I don’t look for thanks. Remember, I do this for myself. For my own personal satisfaction.
I cut a few other men’s hair over the years and one in particular felt intimate. (even though I did not insert myself between his legs!) It IS a personal task, cutting someone’s hair or it can be, I guess, if there is already emotions in the air. One time, my one friend had his hair cut by a woman/mother of a young child who was a sexy babe and by the sounds of it, perhaps a flirt. His wife was not thrilled with this act and so he teased her and said he didn’t really mind the breast milk dripping in his face while she cut the front.
When I am done with my husband’s hair, I turn his chair around so I can see his neck in the light and look for blackheads that run along a crease in his thick muscular neck. A blacksmith and a chainaw carver ‘s neck gets dirty often. I attack it with an extracting instrument and he REALLY recoils then, for it hurts.
It sounds gross and it is gross. Who else can you get to do this at a place you cannot reach or even see other than your wife? I went to a face skincare salon one time and she attacked my nose with a blackhead remover and I never even saw a blackhead there. I came home and told Todd, “She would have a field day with you.” Of course, my husband would never go to a woman like that. Too personal and embarrassing. And here lies the beauty of a marriage, especially a long marriage. We watch our spouses grow older, their hair thin, their eyebrows bush out and they see changes in us too and IT IS OK. There is no pretending. A few of us, a very few of us, even get to cut their hair, and trim their beards and snip their eyebrows and even more is revealed. We are both growing older and for the lucky ones of us who are well loved, we don’t even care because it is happening together.
And I look at my husband after his hair is so neatly cut and his beard is neaty trimmed and he is so handsome and I tell him, “After that trim, you look good enough to fuck,” and that is what he cares about most, thirty two years ago, now, and probably thirty two years from now. So he sits there like a good boy and let’s me attach him with the trimmer and the scissors and the blackhead extractor. “Whatever makes the wife happy.” It did not take thirty- two years to learn that, but then again, he is a fast learner.
Posted in: Life's Moments and Lessons