The final cut


Over the years, this chore has cost me over $8,000. It’s consumed more than 700 hours of my life. I’ve been at risk in the hands of both skilled and unskilled people wielding sharp blades mere inches from my eyes. Even while physically restrained under a shroud secured at the neck, strangers chose not to intervene. I silently suffered the loss of something precious to me, yet seen by others as mere waste. As I look back, the entire experience seems surreal. I’m talking about getting a haircut.

Enough! I have resolved never to visit a barbershop again! I have started to cut my own hair. The timing is right as nature and age have left their mark, leaving me with ever-thinning strands the texture of cotton candy. I’m already counting the cash I’ll save. Just as important, I’ll also save my stylists from the tension they must feel as they dutifully stretch a three-minute task to fill a thirty-minute appointment. And lastly, I’ll never again feel out of place as being the oldest guy in the shop.

So, after meticulous research, I bought a haircut kit. Price: $20. What a deal; aren’t I the smart one! It’s a bargain considering what was in the box: an electric clipper, comb, scissors, brush, lube oil, ear protectors, eight pages of instructions with photos and eight color-coded attachments. Trying to share my purchase enthusiasm with my wife was simply met with eye rolling. She was even less impressed as I shared a dozen YouTube videos showing how regular guys like me were getting into self-shearing.

No matter. Hey...I can do this! Off to the bathroom on a slow night; no witnesses. Here we go. The sides are no problem...smooth clipper motion while front facing the mirror. Easy now...not too deep. Looks good. Now, time to go around back: a bit more difficult now. How to juggle a clipper in one hand, a small mirror in the other, while aligning the view with a wall mirror. 

Whoa!  I aim the clipper to the right but the reverse mirror image shows it going left.  Disorientation!  After a few tries, I manage a reasonably smooth motion from the neck up and things look reasonably ok. Now, one more piece to go...around the ears, the most challenging geography of the noggin. Whoops! In wanting to avoid snipping my lobe, I angled the clipper a bit much and zzzzz’d deep, creating a very pronounced silver dollar size bald patch over my left ear. Uttering a loud cuss word, my wife calls to ask how it’s going, followed by a sarcastic chuckle. No matter...time to regroup. I continue and finish up: mission sort of accomplished.  

It’s not perfect and, yes somewhat uneven. It reminds me of our last lawn cut just before I fired the landscaper. But in all honesty, who really notices an old man’s hair? Out in public, I’ll just favor my right profile for the next few weeks. So, if you see me around the community, be kind and don’t stare. And by the way, I’m now available for consulting should any of you bros wish to take the leap!

Ken Gillespie is a Dell Webb Ponte Vedra resident and a member of the community’s writing club. Now retired, Ken previously worked a long career in human resources for M&M/Mars Inc., while consistently writing for local, community publications along the way.