Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Making The Cut

I cut my hair.

Perhaps I should back up to establish my credentials as a hairstylist. Especially since most of you know me either as a teacher of young children, a professor to young adults, or an author of books.

For forty-three years I cut my husband’s hair. Well, there was that one time he went to a barber. It was shortly after the birth of our first daughter. I was sleep deprived at the time. His decision to have someone else cut his hair was a good one that day. So with that one exception, I cut Tom’s hair for the forty-three years we were married.

Tools of the trade...
I started my one chair, one customer shop because we were in college and had limited financial resources. I eventually moved from my sewing scissors to a real pair of barber scissors. We would spread newspaper on the floor, drape a sheet around Tom’s shoulders, and I’d cut. He cleaned up. We had the routine down to a science. 

He was pleased with my haircutting skills. I was pleased with my new scissors. I used them to trim my bangs or as the girls grew up, I would trim their hair as needed. I did not trust myself to cut my own hair. Not a full-blown haircut.

Until 2020.

I haven’t worried much about my hair during the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t really see anyone. A headband or ponytail is usually sufficient for a Zoom call. I trimmed the dead ends left over from my hair coloring fiasco in Kosovo. But a full cut? No.

Until now. 

Connie B. Dowell, an editor who also has a podcast on writing, scheduled an interview with me last week. It airs today, Wednesday, August 19. Though the interview is a voice recording only, we met on Zoom for our talk. 

Prior to our meeting, I looked in the mirror and felt compelled to try to manage my unruly hair. Nothing worked. It’s naturally curly so my hair pretty much goes where it wants to go. That usually means I have at least one or two curls sticking straight out. I can tame them with curlers or by using a styling cream. Sometimes.

Sometimes. But not on this particular day. 

I tried everything. I really did. Finally, I reached for the scissors. 

“I’m qualified,” I told my mirrored self. “I cut Tom’s hair for years. For weddings and interviews. For business trips, church, everything. I can do this. A full cut.”

I grabbed a comb and started cutting, pulling layers of hair up section by section. The front parts where I could see turned out to be pretty easy… though I did have to cut it a little shorter than I planned to make both sides even. The bangs? No problem. I’ve been cutting my own bangs for years.

You get what you pay for...
I would have been tempted to cut out all of the gray hairs, but after a quick assessment, doing so would have rendered me bald, so I embraced the gray and cut everywhere I could see. 

Satisfied Connie would only see the front, I settled in for the interview. As I said, we recorded the podcast last week. A couple of days later, I decided it was time to finish the job. I retrieved my scissors and comb. I cut the back “by feel.” (Not a technique I would recommend.) I checked everything in the mirror and for the past few days I continue to find errant hairs I clip away. 

I finally called it done. When I mow the lawn and get it uneven, I say, “Done is better than perfect.”

It doesn’t work for hair. Just so you know. 

Therefore, I’m relying on my grandmother’s saying. “The only difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is a few weeks.”

In this time of uncertainty it may be a few months. 

I’m sure we are all learning new skills and tackling everyday life the best way we can. Perhaps that will serve to humble us. Perhaps it will make us more accepting of people or at least more tolerant of their shortcomings. I hope so.

And if you want to listen to the podcast on Writing With E’s, CLICK HERE to find Rebecca Waters. The picture you’ll see of me?…Uh…well, that’s another story.


  1. I loved this post! You did a lovely job with your haircut. And I think grey hair is distinguished.

    My hair is naturally curly, too. I've always been too nervous to cut it, but my spouse did give me a trim a few months ago. It was a nice cut, so I think I'll ask for another one sometime. :)

    1. Thank you! Mostly for reading and responding! We're kind of all in this together, eh?

  2. Ha yes your grandma is so right. I usually just say, 'it'll grow back', or 'that's what hats are for'.

  3. You did good. Nice to see your lovely face!


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