Pandemic haircuts

Cutting hair when you can’t get a haircut.

“I need a haircut,” he says. “Dad, can you cut my hair?”

COVID-19 closed all the hair places down. I was assigned hair cutting duties since I am a cutter, of sorts, but not of the hair cutting kind. If you need a tree cut, I’m your man. Hair though? That’s hard with a chainsaw.

Ever since the pandemic started we’ve all had to do things differently. I hate it when my hair gets in my eyes, and I use that basic measure to determine when to get a cut. My wife and I have three sons, 4, 6 and 8 years old, and our 6-year-old has decided that what works for Dad is good enough to work for him.

“Look, it’s in my eyes Dad,” he pulls his hair down in front of his eyes.

“Oh man,” I say, “how do you see with that mop on your head?”

“Ya, I know. Can you cut it?” he says, dropping the mop and giving me a look.

“Ok, sure,” I say. My personal philosophy toward the hacking of hair is: if I mess it up bad enough, we can just shave it off. And after you shave it off it’s gonna grow back. Why not give it a go?

“Dad. Hair.” he says again.

“Right, let’s go upstairs then and see what we can do,” I reply.

Here’s what we need to cut hair: an electric razor, 13 weird-looking clippy-type guards, a second razor with 5 different cutting attachments, 5 additional weird-looking clippy-type guards, a comb, 3 pairs of scissors, and an extension cord to reach the tub.

“Ok, get in the tub,” I point to the tub. He jumps in.

What happens next is my best attempt at copying what I’ve seen done about 137 times at various hair places. We agree on one of the electric razors and a clippy-type guard. I start at the bottom and run the thing up along the side of the head, pulling up right where the skull starts to curve to flat. I won’t go past the curvy point unless I’m doing a shave job and Mom has made it very clear that a shave job is only to be done as a last resort, so I’m being careful. I go around all the sides and stop at his face.

“How’s it feeling?” I ask. Always make sure the customer is comfortable.

“Good,” he says. “But I’m a bit itchy.”

Ah. I had him strip to his underwear to save getting hair on his clothes so now there’s hair all over his shoulders and down his back. “Hold on,” I say.

I grab the small hand broom thing from one of the razor kits and start brushing away the hair on his shoulders.

“Ouch,” he says.

“That hurts?” I ask.

“Ya,” he replies as I’m jamming the thing into my arm to test it out. Ouch. That hurts.

“Ok, I’ll be more careful,” I say.

The next step is to get the hair wet. I’m not 100% sure why but the hair place does it, so we do it, too. “Time to get your hair a bit wet,” I say and grab a handful of water from the sink on the other side of the room. I kind of slap it down on his head and pet him like a dog to spread the water out. He picks up what I’m trying to do and starts running one hand through his hair, back and forth and back and forth, to help soak his mop.

“Looks good,” I say, “now I’m going to take some off the top with the scissors.”

“Ok,” he says. I’ve gotta give him credit, he’s brave.

The top proves harder to manage than I expect. I’m trying to grab bunches of wet hair with the fingers of my left hand and cut with the scissors in my right. The problem is that the wet hair is sticking to his head. Then I remember that the hair people usually have a comb, too.

“I need a comb,” I wipe my forehead and start looking through a colorful basket on the back of the toilet with a hairbrush and about 45 moisturizing-type spritzing things in it.

“Dad, there’s a comb in the razor bag,” he says.

“Razor bag?” I raise my right eyebrow. “Where…?”

“The black thing,” he points somewhere.

“This thing?” I grab a plastic case with 12 weird-looking clippy-type guards in it.

“Ya,” he says.

The case is open, so I rummage around in it and see a thick black comb. “Here,” I lift the comb up to the light to make sure it is what it is.

“How did you know there was a comb in there?” I ask.

“I saw it,” he says.

“Smart boy,” I say, moving back to the tub to get back to it.

The comb seems to help. I’ve got the scissors on my right hand, hooked to my pointer finger and thumb; these fingers are also holding the comb. I find the comb works well to scoop up the wet hair up to my left hand which can then pinch the clump kind of like I’m holding a hard shell taco. I pull up a bit with the left to keep the hair off the skull and do a juggling-type move with my right hand, rolling the comb into my palm with my pinky and ring fingers and cutting the hair with the scissors on my pointer finger and thumb. Snip.

I work my way around his scalp, trying to cut the hair the height of the pinky finger, the ring finger and the middle finger on my left hand all stacked up. Keeping the scissors from cutting my own fingers or his head takes up all my focus. Soon, I decide to ditch the “three finger measure” method for the “ballpark measure” method.

We’re about an hour in at this point and there’s no going back. The hair is drying out and I find that the dry hair is easier to work with. I’m not sure why the hair people get your hair wet before cutting it, maybe they like a challenge.

I go over the whole head with my left hand ballparking everything to make sure it’s the same length. Small snips here, small nips there.

“We’re looking good,” I say. No obvious chunks are missing and there’s no blood or tears which means we’re winning.

Time to move onto the bangs. These are super easy.

“Ok, close your eyes, I’m going to do the front,” I say.

“Ok, Dad,” he replies.

I take the hair over his forehead with my left hand. Put the comb down with my right and make sure I’ve got the scissors on tight. This close to eyes you’ve really gotta watch out. Holding the scissors vertically I make little stabbing-type cuts, back and forth and back and forth, all the way across his forehead, grabbing new clumps of hair with my left hand as I go. The little stabs back and forth give the finished hair an uneven, messy kind of appearance. I think of this as the “trendy look.”

Another way of cutting bangs is to cut them in a straight line right across the forehead. I think of this as the “robot look” which is pretty healthy but not what we go with today.

“Right, looking good, eh?” I ask.

“Ya, Dad, but I’m itchy,” he swipes a gob of hair off his shoulder. “Can you do that blower thing?” he asks.

“Blower thing?” I reply. “What blower thing?”

“You know, the one Mom has,” he says.

“A hair dryer?” I ask.

“Ya…” he answers.

I stand up, wipe the obvious hair off my legs and open the bathroom door. There’s a blow dryer on the bed so I grab it and bring it back into the bathroom.

“This?” I ask.

“Ya,” he says.

“Good idea,” I plug in the blower thing, point, and shoot blasting all the hair right off of him.

“Ok, almost done. Hold on tight and don’t move,” I say.

We’re nearly home free now, just gotta clean up the edges. I trade the first electric razor for the second electric razor and switch the cutting attachment over to the one that looks like a little mini razor head. I triple check the instructions to make sure this is the one that doesn’t cut skin when you touch it. I found out the difference in cutting heads the hard way, one time I got a bit too close with the wrong one. Don’t want to make that mistake again.

The key to cleaning the edges out is to keep part of your hand anchored to the head. You can slowly and carefully trace the outside edge of the hair to give it a clean look. Hair over the ears is my second big indicator of needing a haircut, so I make sure to carve those ears out real well. You’ve gotta be careful going up over the ear though, it’s really easy to get carried away, cut in too high too deep and then end up needing to throw away all your hard work by salvaging with a shave job.

I restrain myself and the back of his head cleans up pretty nicely.

“Well, what do you think?” I ask.

“It looks good,” he replies.

“Now,” I say, “you want to cut mine?”

“Ok,” he says.

We agree on one of the electric razors and a weird-looking clippy-type guard. I strip to my underwear to save getting hair on my clothes and get in the tub beside him and kind of hunker down a bit.

“Here’s how you turn it on,” I say, pointing to the sliding black switch on the side. “Make sure you don’t push really hard because you could pop the guard off and cut me. Look, try popping this thing off,” I say, pointing to the black guard.

He tries to pull the guard off and can’t. I find that a bit comforting and hope it means he’s less likely to snap the guard off and dig the razor directly into my head.

He turns the razor on BZZZZZZZZ and starts making little baby bird pecks with it.

“No, not like that. Like this,” I say, making a longer smoother motion with my hand.

“Ok,” he says.

I try to keep as low as I can sitting in the bathtub so he can cut wherever he wants. It doesn’t really matter what he does, since he’s giving me a shave job. He might as well have some fun with it, you know?

BZZZZZZZZ, the razor echoes off the bathroom walls, surrounding us.

Hair falls like snow all around me. I’m looking at the bottom of the tub, hunkered down. All I can see are his tiny, little feet shuffling back and forth and back and forth, working to get the best angle. The hair is sticking all over his feet which makes them look like a hairy man’s feet but shrunk down to 6-year-old size. These are the feet he’s going to have when he’s grown, when he’s a man.

I’m warm and cold. We’re slow dancing in a bathtub during a pandemic that shut the whole world down. Me with my boy and his hairy little man feet. Maybe he’ll have kids, when he fills his feet. I wonder what he’ll be like. How often will I see him? These feet, they’ll change the world. Hairy little man feet that could be anything, that could do anything. He keeps shuffling, back and forth and back and forth. I think he’s humming.

BZZZZZZZZ, the vibrations are like music, filling us.

I don’t know what the future will bring. It’s big and it’s scary. I know there will be love and laughter, pain and tears. For some reason, a chill creeps over me. My stomach pushes itself up it into my throat. Lots of people are dying right now. What if he doesn’t make it? What if I’m not there?

Not now. I’m losing myself. People are always dying. People are always living, too. These things are life. I can decide which road to take, so I choose the path that brings me back to slow dance with my son.

Presents. The razor. The bathtub. My son. My self. The dance. The pandemic. Time.

Here, together. Both of us in the bathtub, both of us in our underwear. The razor singing. His hairy little feet dancing. And I am remembering to never forget our pandemic haircuts. This might be the closest we ever get in our whole entire lives.

Carrot juice

I changed today

but nobody saw it.

One of those “AH-HA” type moments

vibrating along the wires.

You might have kids, but you’re not a father.

You might have a wife, but you’re not a husband.

Not until you act like one.

So, how do you act?

Do you stay at work, consumed with opportunity?

Do you get angry and yell, or give time and teach?

These things, these things that you do, you do it to yourself

you do.

Don’t you?

A teammate quits.

Can you blame him?

No.

It’s your own damn fault. Too busy measuring, planning, scheming.

You think it’s all fine, as long as the bus is travelling down the road

Forget the fact that the wheels came off awhile ago

and you can’t stop

and there are babies in the road ahead.

“WHO LEAVES THEIR BABIES IN THE ROAD?” you scream.

You did.

Too focused on that carrot

you chase

every day.

You’re going to run the babies over. And lose them all.

Don’t change for the better.

Change for the present.

Love you do

Your feelings? Stuff them.

Love isn’t something you feel. Love is something you do.

Show up. Stay the course. Persist.

“I love you,” means:

Food

Shelter

Water

Protection

“I am here.”

Love

Love takes effort. Effort requires work. Love is work.

“What about feelings?”

What about them. Other people’s feelings for you are a consequence of your actions.

When you act like you love someone

they will love you.

So don’t be surprised that when you stop doing love

that they stop loving you.

You’re standing there with your arms full of wood

demanding that the sticks piled on the ground give you heat

before you’ll give them a spark.

Love and you’ll be loved.

You make the choice.

Hurt or injured

There’s a question I ask

when I see him fall

Something that separates

me from them all.

“Is he hurt or injured?”

I ask myself

and the answer I give

is a guide to my help.

 

If he’s hurt, he’s ok, though a little bruised up

Some tears and a Band-Aid

And he cheers right up

So I won’t jump in

and make a show of it all

I hang right back

and let him make the call.

His life’s not in danger,

so some space he will get

To think his things over

and choose his upset.

 

If he’s injured, he’s down and out for the count

And I’ll come a running, and probably shout,

“HOLY SHIT, WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?”

Then roar to the truck and throw open the door.

The hospital knows when they see us there,

to jump us to the front of line up in chairs.

And call for a doctor and at least one nurse

And to start making arrangements for some kind of hearse.

 

Life is tough and you’re going to lose

if you get hurt and need to stop for a bruise.

And you’ll also lose out on life if you wait

when you’re injured and pounding on Heaven’s gate.

 

 

The only thing that lasts

Hate and you will be hated.

Praise and you will be praised.

Love and you will be loved.

It’s so easy, isn’t it? You can sit there in your soft chair and clickity clack.

Read this

Watch that

Flickity flack.

Why bother? Why do you do anything?

It’s so hard, isn’t it? The struggle you face every day, your life takes so much effort.

If only it was easier. Somehow someone could make it easier.

Maybe your friends could help. Too bad they’ve all passed you by.

Not necessarily.

The friends didn’t pass you by, you left them.

Be a friend and you’ll be friended.

But you stopped answering their calls a long time ago, didn’t you?

And why? For what?

The goal you chase, this race you’re running,

running so fast you’ve left them all behind, all of them.

The race you’re running is over.

You’ve already won.

You’ve already lost.

You’ve got what you wanted, it’s right there in your head.

You have achieved.

Now what?

You should celebrate

Have some drinks, stuff your face, stay up, sleep, roll around in bed.

Take it all for granted.

Hold on.

You’ve woken up dead.

Nobody sees you anymore. You’re a ghost.

And you bang on the window, the invisible wall that separates you from people,

people you love and people you praise and people you hate,

but they don’t see you anymore because you’re gone.

You took it all for yourself, all of it, ate it all up.

You didn’t share a crumb.

And now what is it, what is it that drives you now that you’re dead?

You’ve been forgotten.

You’re less than a memory.

All that’s left, all that’s left, are the people you touched.

Did you touch anyone, while you were alive?

Before your crazy train left the station, before you consumed it all?

Did you share anything? Did you teach anything?

You might not think, but you’d be wrong.

Maybe he swings the bat the way you showed him,

planting his back foot, right elbow cocked back.

Maybe he loves the way you showed him,

holding hands and opening doors.

You don’t last, don’t be so vain.

Names fade into names that fade into names.

Nobody remembers your feelings, they remember how you made them feel through your actions.

You can choose to do whatever you want to do.

The only thing that lasts

is what you gave.

Find a patch of sun and lay in it

Frankie’s key to a successful, happy life.

Early morning. Sitting in my chair. Drinking coffee.

Our 3, 5 and 7-year-old sons are continuing the slow demolition of our house. My wife is reading. I’m searching for the end I need to begin with to be a highly effective person.

“Look at that dog,” my wife says. Frankie, our French Bulldog, is laying in the only patch of sun around. Totally at peace. And then it hits me.

The key to a successful, happy life is to find a patch of sun and lay in it.

In order to achieve this pinnacle of success is to:

  1. Find a patch of sun
  2. Lay in it

Do not accept anything less than a fully engulfed, blazing patch of sun. Quality is of the utmost importance. Your life, your success, and your happiness are worth the effort.

Then lay in it.

Do not:

  • plan your future
  • reminisce about your past

You must be. Let the warmth penetrate your skin, feel it in your core.

Now, carry the feeling you feel at this very moment throughout the rest of your life

and be that sun for others.

For Sale: Open top child cage (crib) and mattress

I apologize for the blurry first photo, one of them got out and bit my leg when I was shooting. It hurt, I screamed, the photo blurred. There was no time to try again.

For sale is one open top child cage, known to new parents as a “crib.” Survivors, aka “experienced parents,” know the term “crib” to be inaccurate. This open top cage helps to restrict their movements for periods of time. This is extremely valuable at bedtime, preventing them from clawing, scratching, biting you while you try to sleep. You won’t sleep, of course, because of the noise, but you can use this to help get a minimal amount of rest.

The separation afforded by this unit comes in handy for discipline, the thing you pretend/hope will eventually teach them how to behave. It won’t work, of course, but we all have to pretend.

Our cage is in good condition. There are some bite marks which is to be expected. The stickers have been clawed off, for the most part. It’s made of sturdy wood and has the strength necessary to hold when they slam their bodies against it with brutal, savage force.

The cage comes with a mattress. With the mattress, you can feel comfortable knowing when they fall asleep they should be comfortable enough to stay asleep for at least an hour at a time. That’s the best you can hope for, just get used to it. I recommend training yourself to take microsleeps when you’re on the toilet. It’s the only place you’ll be able to get away. You’ll probably find yourself in the bathroom with no recollection of how you got there, not even having to actually poo. If this happens, make sure you flush your fake poo and turn the tap on to simulate hand washing. 7 minutes is all you get. Then take a deep breath and head back out.

We are selling because our youngest can now escape at will. We investigated closed top cage models but there concerns over the legality of these designs. The price is firm at $93 as this is the price of the first hour we were quoted by the therapist, to teach us how to deal with our child’s increased – and our decreased – freedom. Let’s be honest, my wife and I won’t make it in to see the therapist. We will probably fall asleep holding hands and crying in the waiting room with other survivors and miss our names getting are called.

If you are having a baby, prepare yourself. If you know someone who is pregnant, help them by sharing this with them. Actually, don’t share this with them. Buy this for them. They will need a cage. Trust me.

God help us all.