Monday, September 6, 2004

No, no, tell me what you really think

Like the champ that I am, I cut my own hair this Saturday. This is nothing new for me. I've cut my own hair for the past ten years and have had only one barbered haircut (which I didn't even pay for), about seven years ago. It's not as difficult as you might imagine, especially since I have curly hair and have developed a couple techniques for keeping things even. I'm not beyond asking for a little help from roommates and friends, but the majority of the cutting is in my own hand. It usually takes a day to a week to get all the kinks out and make it look really super duper. People are always a little incredulous that I can produce such consistently decent haircuts by myself.

Why am I going on at such length? Well -- aside from the fact that this *is* a blog -- I write in support of a great truism: even the best auto-haircutters have bad days. I woke up this Saturday with a lot of anxious energy and I'd been toying for a few days with the idea of snipping and clipping. So I shuffled into the bathroom, grabbed my large craft scissors and began clearing my head. I had a Chinese lesson in less than an hour so time was of the essence.

Time was of the essence, you realize, not caution. Every haircut reaches a point of no return. I just happened to reach this point at different times in many different places on my scalp. A patch of white skin suddenly perched over my right ear. An only slightly more covered patch of my scalp sprang out like Athena out of Zeus' forehead. Sprigs of hair stood in ragged defiance all over my skull. And then I moved to the back of my head. This was basically a blind assault on locks that, it turns out, were much shorter than I thought. Fighting a vague instinctive urge to wear a baseball cap to my lesson, I hurried off to the church and then returned a couple hours later, my spirits much more (obliviously) intact than my hair.

That evening I went to see Spielberg's *The Terminal*[1] (Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta Jones) and received one of the boldest compliments I've ever heard. Carrie put it in terms I could understand: "You look like you have AIDS." The next day I got an even more stunning compliment. Janet stated herself just as clearly as Carrie: "It looks like someone bit your hair. Like a cockroach. Or a mouse."

And then, today, in my last class, one of my students stopped me to explain that my hair looked "…strange." I, in turn, explained that I'd cut it myself and, more importantly, didn't care how it looked, since I knew it would grow back and be okay. Teacher Elliot is bigger than his hairs. This wasn't very compelling logic for her, apparently. "It looks like... a dog."

No matter. I still at least -- and I mean at the very least -- have my dignity.

[1] I like to call this movie "Cheese With Wings". It had a number of very funny scenes, especially in the first half, but unraveled quickly after an hour. Most of the characters were caricatures, the themes were obscure and revealed much too late in the movie to make sense of that was happening, and, on a very simple level, joke after joke after joke fell flat. To top it all, Zeta Jones's character was just plain creepy, kind of revolting, in fact. She's basically an adulterous semi-nympho and I found her, to put it mildly, a little hard to sympathize with. Bottom line: it was no *Collateral*! (O *Collateral*, how do I love thee? Let me count the viewings...)

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