Three things that have changed since I’ve become unemployed (in the traditional sense): My alarm clock no longer goes off. I no longer dread Mondays. I cut off all my hair.
I have a really round head. Like a Charlie Brown round head. Ridding my scalp of my locks has taught me a couple of things very quickly. One, I look a lot better with hair and; two, my head is a lot smaller than I thought it was.
Physically, at least.
Clipping my head hairs down to 1/8″ was something I can only equate to having a food craving. Once the thought got in my head, I couldn’t get it out. I’m used to hearing “you want lasagna… you want lasagna… you want lasagna…” in my brain like a prayer, but not “cut off all your hair… cut off all your hair… cut off all your hair…” I mean, one has nothing to do with the other. I know what eating lasagna will get me. I’ll feel very happy while I do it, I’ll feel pretty satisfied for a couple of hours afterwards, and then I’ll regret it for a week.
Hmm. Well, maybe the two things have more in common than I thought.
As it was, I was developing a pompadour of sorts. I have very thick, dark brown hair. So thick, in fact, that it’s uncombable (if that’s a word, and even if it isn’t). If I stick my head out the window of a moving carwhich I don’t do very often but once in a while we all get that “I wish I was a dog” feeling, particularly when that joke about licking his own balls… I’ll stop now. Um, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, the car thing. So, I can stick my head out a car window and let the wind have its way with my coif and when I pull my noggin back inside, my hair sticks in whatever form the wind decided for it. Many yuks commence.
And you wanna talk bedhead? I get intensive, horrific, amazing bedhead. It usually resembles a sort of pyramidal shape with lumps sticking off it. Stacked very high and pointy. Just amazingly unattractive, but damned funny.
So I have spent hours of my time trying to “manage” my hair, and typically of anything one tries to forcibly manage, it flatly refuses and will do all in its power to appear to be amenable to my ministrations, but when I turn around and look to see what it’s doing later that day, it has elected to ignore all my careful arrangements and instructions and do just whatever the hell it wants to.
Lately, I’ve been using that “purposefully messy” look that’s popular these days. I wash my hair and apply a dab of pomade to my hands, vigorously rubbing it at my head. Then, instead of trying to find the part or comb it back or make any controlling gestures at it, I leave it that way. Parts are sticking up, some goes left, some goes right, some lies flat, some curls. It’s rather like a 15-car pile-up on my head. And it looks great when I leave the bathroom mirror behind but by lunchtime, the natural wave manifests its imminent domain over my head and it all resembles a shrub or a carefully arranged Eva Gabor wig.
So, you know, I figured it was time to start with a clean plate.
Rubbing Me The Right Way
I’ve heard of other people doing this. When they come to a change in life, whether that means a move or a decision or a break-up or a new car or whatever, they cut their hair. Now, not all of them cut off all their hair. Some start with much longer hair than I and they elect instead to part with inches or feet of their precious head commodity. And although that wasn’t my primary reason, the timing is certainly suspicious.
On the other hand, if it ended up looking gawdawful, I wouldn’t have to go into work or, indeed, ever leave my house! Thanks to the Web, you can have HomeRuns.com deliver your groceries, or drop by food.com or Dining In to order some restaurant home delivery. Really, there’s no reason ever to leave your house again, assuming you’re having a bad hair month.
So, with safety net in place, I took clippers in hand (I happened to have a tiny set of electric clippers that I use to trim my beardlet once a week) and started on the right side of my head.
Here’s a funny thing. You can’t clip “just a little off” to see what you’ll look like. You have to swallow the red pill and go for it.
It started out okay. And I intended to try to go a little at a time to see where to stop and maybe attempt to trim with scissors instead of just going military style across my head. But once I had the right side done and could see my scalp, I realized that this was an all-or-nothing proposition. I mean, what would I do, go into Cuts-4-Less with half my head shaven and say “It was an accident. I was cutting my fingernails and it just went crazy!” And I didn’t really want to fix it, I just wanted it all off my head. I decided, standing there at 8:00PM on a Saturday night staring at my surprised reflection in the bathroom mirror, little green Wahl clippers vibrating hungrily in my hand, that I wanted it all off my head. I wanted a clean, even coat of bristles.
See Me. Feel Me.
The poor clippers were never meant to chew away at hair like on my head. They were made for beards, which are comprised of bristled, thick, wiry hairs. The hairs on your head are thin and “silky”, so the clippers kept jamming. It never hurt, but the sound was a bit… worrisome. So I concentrated on the hair around the sides of my skull and then went to the kitchen to get the scissors.
I must say, there’s something very satisfying about attacking your own head with scissors. Grabbing a clump of hair, inserting the blades around it and chopping it off at odd, angry angles was fun! Grab! Chop! Grab! Chop! Then you drop a handful of hair into the sink and watch the shape of your head change. I looks very post-apocalyptic for a while, there. Like Nuclear fallout was having its way on one side, and a mad beautician was having her way on the other. Grab! Chop! Grab! Chop!
Then back to the clippers again. Zuz, zuz, zuz, zuz, grind, grind, gag, zuz, zuz. I bent down low over the bathroom sink and rubbed and rubbed the clippers against my scalp. It was particularly hard to get the hairs at that point on my head where I imagine the hair originates to get cut off. Right at the top near the back. If you poke your finger against your head you’ll find that spot. It feels like the center of your head. No other spot feels like that spot. It probably has some special karma attached to it. Maybe that’s where it all leaks outor leaks in. That’s where your chakras align or something. That’s the North Pole of your body, the magnetic center. And the hair there just kept surrendering. It wouldn’t stand up to be cut.
But I did it. And then I had to feel all around my head for stray hairs because I couldn’t see around my head, of course.
It was about that time that I discovered that the shaven scalp is one big erogenous zone.
If you’ve ever owned a dog and seen how a dog reacts after you cut their hair, you’ll know how I felt right then. Dogs’ll jump around a bark and act foolish and giddy for a few minutes as if the weight of the world has been shorn from their body.
The thing to remember about dogs is that almost none of them gives a shit about how they look. Dogs are the animals drinking from the toilet, remember? So, although I did feel a sudden weightlessness and it did feel, like, really good to be rubbing my hand all over my head, it only took a couple of looks in the mirror for regret to set in.
“Lance, that is one really round head you’ve got there. And without any hair, your face occupies too much of it. And did I mention its roundness?”
Judged on feel alone, I like my new head. Judged by looking in the mirror, I look like a Weeble.
October 25, 1999