Friday, January 26, 2007
Tanya cuts my hair. Although we are married, we don't talk much during this time; I'm a client and she's the stylist. They are the best haircuts of my life. I hated getting a haircut when I was a kid; especially when having long hair was cool. One could never grow it long enough before our parents forced us to get it cut.
Although these haircuts are second to none, they are quite modest. There's no special chair or equipment—no salon. I usually sit on one of our kitchen chairs, typically on the back porch outside. It's easier to clean up. Even in the winter, if our timing is good, the sun is strong enough to warm us during this activity. But tonight, as mentioned earlier, it's mid-January and the sun has been down for hours. So, we push the kitchen table off to the side against the bench and cabinets and place the chair in the middle of our tiled linoleum floor.
When she cuts my hair, she uses the pair of scissors that are in the cup where pencils and pens are kept on the kitchen bench. They're just normal craft scissors. And the comb she prefers is a standard black, plastic, pocket comb—the same type that James Dean or Marlon Brando pulled out of their pockets in those old movies from the 1950s.
As Tanya goes to work, my eyes are closed as she pushes my head around like the loosened pivot head of a tripod. They only open to look at her face when she is standing in front of me—bent over, with her feet far apart and checking the levelness across the top of my head. Her eyes are dark with determination and her face expressionless until she notices me looking back at her, and then a smile as her eyes begin to dance.
She never went to school for this, she learned to cut hair by watching the beauticians work on her and other customers in the salon. As a child she cut the hair of her dolls—all of them eventually would end up with short hair. And whether or not she takes twice as long as a trained, certified barber/beautician, I prefer her extended sessions.
She comes across so serious at times, flitting about as if she's working on a masterpiece sculpture. But, it's only me and my thinning hair and mug of an ordinary man. How does she become so engaged? This feeling of being fussed over makes me feel like a show dog about to go on stage. What does she think about me during this time? I'm sure there's nothing therapeutic about it for her as it is for me.
With eyes closed I listen to the mesmerizing sounds around us. At first I hear her irregular breathing in the form of short breaths and various sighs—like a form of Morse code, and if I knew the code I could read her mind. Beyond our small space is the steady exhale of the furnace blower through the duct work of the house as it competes with the muffled racket of the clothes dryer on the other side of the kitchen door—a form of do-it-yourself white noise.
When we are outside, there are the sounds I typically don't notice under any other circumstances. I can hear the different vehicles going up and down the street from the other side of the house. Then there are the sounds of birds; not just any birds but the different kinds as well—like the voices of friends and family behind a party's closed door.
Perhaps the sound of the grinding scissor blades as they cut through my hair are the most blissful of all. It's as if she's cutting away huge amounts with each swipe like some guy with a weed whacker in an overgrown, vacant lot. These are the times I'm almost convinced that my hair has somehow become thicker and more voluminous than the day before. Then there is this subtle, irregular ticking when the plastic comb and scissors make contact or when she taps them together lightly to knock off the accumulating harvested hair. Add to all of this the gentle touch of her fingertips to my scalp—and like a box of chocolates—it's as if I'm receiving a sampler of heaven. And like the ending of any good thing, I'm always disappointed when she finally says, "There, all done."
I could care the outcome in these haircuts—she could cut it any way she wants as long as she cuts it. I only wish my hair would grow as fast as Tanya could cut it. Sometime afterwards she'll ask me how I like my haircut. But it hardly matters to me at that point in time. I'm still too stunned by the overdose of bliss, like someone who has been in a sauna too long. My reply is usually something like, "I haven't looked yet."