The High Calling of a Hair Cutter

Yes, I mean hair cutter. I don’t go to a place with  hairstylists. Even hair dresser is too stylish a word for the shop I go to, on the rare occasions I actually get my hair cut. I let it go for a whole year while my mom was sick. It takes courage for me to go in for a trim because my hair grows back so slowly. Every time I get it cut, I feel like I’m signing a contract for the next six months.

But on this particular day, I felt bold and daring. I walked into Bobby’s shop just before lunch. Why then? Because he’s closed at lunch. If you think that’s weird, then you don’t live in a small town. Shops around here still close for lunch because that’s when you eat your noon meal, right?

I’ve heard about Bobby for years because my husband has gone to him often. So I knew that Bobby leaned toward the short side of any requested length. I had planned to ask for 2 inches off. When I landed in his chair, I changed it to 1 1/2. I got 2.

As he combed through my hair, Bobby said, “Boy, your hair is really thick!”

“It’s deceiving,” I said. “I look like I’m going to be easy, but I’m not.”

“Oh, it’ll be fine.”

While I sat there quietly, noticing that Bobby was carefully  pinning up my layers to ensure an even cut, a young woman came into the shop just to talk to him. She complained that she was supposed to start school, but she was putting it off for another couple months. She wanted to save up a couple of paychecks first.

“Are you working?” Bobby asked.

“No,” she admitted.

“Well, you can’t really save up paychecks until you get a job.”

“Yeah, but all the classes, they’re during the day. I want night classes,” the woman said.

“So you go to class during the day, and you work at night. There’s tons of night jobs,” Bobby said.

“Yeah, I know.”

“You just don’t want to work.”

“No, I don’t. Just another couple of months,” the woman said.

“If you start now, you’ll be done two months sooner,” Bobby said.

“Yeah, I know.”

Then they talked books. The woman said she’s only read two books in her life, and one was “The Shack.”

“Have you read it, Bobby?”

“Nah. The only book I’ve read all the way through is the Bible.”

His Bible was sitting on his stand, all worn and ragged. He’s become a Christian just since we moved here six years ago. I heard he got married recently. There were snapshots of a bride stuck into the corners of his mirror.

He finished my cut, then thinned it real well and dried it, which, he didn’t have to for that price. I tip well because I know that whoever cuts my hair gets more than they bargained for. (Think: Cher.) I left the shop looking like a nice, graying, middle-aged mom with a nice, middle-aged cut. Perfect.

It’s amazing what a good hair cut can do for my mood. I felt beautiful. Well, as beautiful as can be expected for only getting cheap cuts and only getting them every six months or so. Thank you, Bobby.

Johnny Cash was playing over the radio as I left.

Comments

  1. Megan, I put off my haircuts until I absolutely have to. I realize at about eight weeks that I’m due, then delay it another eight until I can’t stand it any more. (First clue is that I have to start combing it after the shower. 🙂 But then go see the most engaging Romanian woman and enjoy deeply stimulating conversation with her while she trims away and wonder when I leave why I don’t go more often.

    Sounds like Bobby might be worth a return trip. 🙂

  2. Dear Megan, How I understand this post! Best wishes, Ellen

  3. Megan, you really see what’s happening all around and beneath the surface, too, even to the heart. With that kind of insight, it’s like you have relational superpowers or something! 🙂

    Thank you for introducing us to Bobby. I don’t live in a small town now, but I grew near one. My first bangs were trimmed by a barber…an official barber. I think I wrote about it one time. (Found it, and though it’s not great writing, you get the story of Buck the Barber: http://annkroeker.com/2009/01/22/barber-chair-reflections/)

  4. I’m stubbing this at the HCB Articles page, Megan. Look for it soon!

  5. I love this post. I go to a city Supercuts and have watched Sherry, (I will call her a stylist!) a recovering addict come free from her addiction, get married, and have a baby. Her faith grows like the baby inside her. It is amazing to watch. And I like you, tip well, because it’s people and work well done. I also go out as a middle-aged woman – just a little prettier 🙂

  6. I love that I can go to Cindy when the kids tell me my gray is showing and just tell her to fix me. I give her free rein–with my hair and to tell it straight. I’ve been going to her for over ten years.

  7. Amazing story. But explain the Cher reference for me…. I can think of no possible way that you are like her! I do go to a stylist – a woman I love. In the last 15 years, we’ve walked together through the death of my dad, her sister from ALS, my son-in-law’s death, my brother’s death, her own breast cancer, our kids’ marriages. She and her shopmates did the hair for the entire female side of the family for Lisa’s re-marriage last summer. And I tip generously, too. She is skilled, kind, fun and like family to me. Here’s to the people who cut our hair!

  8. I have great hair and I usually cut it myself (and everyone’s in the house)…after about a week of looking at it and getting into the right framework. But I love the few stylists (at various locations) I have found that worked with me and brought out a style. I remember one, when I was pregnant, and she was studying to teach special Ed, so when she quit I really missed her, but I was glad for her sake. Yeah, she really made me look good. I have hair that hides mistakes, being partly curly, but when a pro goes at it, hm. Maybe it is time…I think I should ask Diana (above) for her hairdresser!

  9. Beth, I go to Leslie Mann at Head West, a small house in the parking lot behind Victoria Court. ANY of the women who work there are great – the ones I know best are Leslie, Peggy Jo and Molly. It ain’t cheap – but for me with my thinning, white headful, it’s so worth it. 963-3626

  10. It’s these kinds of encounters that keep the world spinning, I think. A sweet telling too.

    Have I said how fun it would be to stand beside you and look into Vincent’s eyes at The National Gallery? That place did strange things to me too.

  11. I’m the opposite. I gave up on haircuts b/c I’ll spend a fortune trying to keep up with a short cut. (My hair grows like a weed. Really fast and in every possible direction. Better to just accept it.) Loved the post. Middle aged moms with grey are beautiful, aren’t we?

  12. I like small-town stories, Megan, just like this one.

  13. I’ve gone to the same hair cutter for about twenty years now Megan. I don’t know what I’ll do if she ever decides to retire. I casually mentioned to her one time that she ought to always keep a few of her favorite clients even if they have to come to her house. She just smiled. A good hair cutter is a terrible thing to lose.

  14. A trip to the haircutter’s/hairdresser’s is made of just this stuff, every time! In Texas, too, huh? It’s a real crossroads for all kinds of conversations. I like it best when I can sit and listen, and least when they start out asking ME all kinds of stuff. I confess I feel like I am writing stories the whole time I’m in the chair, trying to insert the various characters. You have captured it so well, even the Johnny Cash departure.

  15. People who work on our hair are defacto counselors, listening, advising, cheering us on. God bless those who weld scissors!

  16. What a delightful story-teller you are — especially in the thick of your hair!

  17. denadyer70 says:

    Nice, Megan. I love hearing about your daily life…because you tell it so well. Like Ann said, you see what goes beyond the surface. 🙂 Miss and love you!

  18. my
    husband is my
    official
    hair
    cutter dude.

    scary,
    i know.

    he’s
    free and
    i’m
    cheap.

    a
    good
    match,
    aye?

    What a great telling you gave here, miss Megan. Sounds like a scene from a really good book. 😉

    Blessings.