The Hair Cut

by Alice Woodrome

I’ve cut my husband’s hair since the year we were married, first because we didn’t have the money for barbers, and then because it became a habit. When the kids came along, I cut their hair for a long time. My daughter eventually decided in her teen years that she wanted to go to a real beauty shop, but my son continued to ask me to cut his hair his whole life. I’ve cut both my mother and father’s hair many times, too. I’m cheap, that is the real secret of my popularity.

The strangest experience I had cutting someone’s hair was when Frank asked me to cut his. He had been my son’s best friend. Like my son, Rob, Frank at twenty-two lacked direction in life and was floundering. About two weeks after my son’s death, the doorbell rang and Frank was at our door, as he had been so many times during my son’s life. This time he was asking me if I would cut his hair.

Frank had attended the funeral but hadn’t spoken to me. I think he just didn’t have any words. He and my son had smoked weed together, and I’m sure his heart was awhirl with conflicting emotions. He still didn’t know what to say or even how to speak of Rob to me, but I suspected he needed to make some sort of a connection– to comfort me, but especially to be comforted himself –to know that I didn’t blame him. I guess he remembered that I always cut Rob’s hair, and though that would be a way of touching base without the necessity of words.

It was odd, surreal even, but it served the purpose beautifully. Many animals bond by grooming one another, and it makes a lot of sense. When you think about it, cutting someone’s hair is rather intimate. You are running your fingers through their hair, touching them – almost caressing them.

There were very few words spoken as I cut Frank’s hair for the one and only time. Most of the time he sat silently as I worked, but when it was over, it felt like we had embraced and said everything that needed to be said. I think it did a lot for both of us.