Sunday, March 16, 2008

A wife with all the trimmings

Last Saturday night, as my wife Kara approached me with the trimmer buzzing in her hand, I began to have some serious second thoughts.

“Are you sure you can do this?” I asked again.

“How hard can it be?” she said. “Now sit still.”

She was about to give me the first free haircut I’d had since college. Back then, my buddy Tim used to give free haircuts on Saturday mornings, which usually began just before dusk. Tim could easily cut twenty heads in one session, though he only ever gave one haircut. We all looked exactly the same, which was fine by us. A free haircut was a free haircut, even if it came with more verbal abuse than one would receive at a paying establishment.

“Man, you’re starting to thin out,” Tim would say. “Better get married young if you can.”

Tim’s military consistency meant we never had to go to the barber shop down the street, where the barber had hung a price list on the wall that included this item: “Fix Me Man, $5.00.”

A friend of mine inquired one day about what exactly constituted a Fix Me Man.

The barber replied, “It’s when your roommate tries to cut your hair, then you come in here and say, ‘Fix me, Man!’”

My thoughts drifted to the Fix Me Man as Kara closed in with the trimmers.

“Here we go!” she said as she made contact with the back of my head. A clump of hair fell onto my shoulder; the Rubicon had been crossed with Kara cavalierly plunging in.

We’d embarked on this adventure without really planning to do so. The sideburn trimmer I’d bought for fifteen bucks came with all the attachments to cut a whole head, so we started joking that Kara could be my barber. Then all of a sudden I was sitting on a stool in the bathroom with a tarp on the floor, which we’d spread out to catch any falling hair and blood spatters.

I wouldn’t have been so amenable to the idea if I hadn’t had the experience of trying out a new upscale barbershop about a month prior. I should have known something was awry when I saw the flatscreen TVs mounted on the wall and the sinks in the corner. Real barbershops have dusty radios with bad reception tuned to sports talk, and they certainly don’t have sinks, except maybe in the bathroom that you’re not allowed to use.

Halfway through the cut, the barber asked, “Would you like your eyebrows trimmed?”

Never having been asked this question before, I wasn’t sure whether the appropriate response was, “No,” or “God, no.” I’ve known guys who have spent a lot of time on their eyebrows before, and the result is always a little disconcerting. When it comes to eyebrows, I think most people could benefit from this guiding principle: If you have two, that’ll do.

The bill for the cut came out to $25, which is as close to John Edwards territory as I ever plan to get. Kara didn’t think that sounded like too much, but that’s coming from someone who gets her hair cut once a lunar eclipse.

So that’s how I came to be sitting on the stool in the bathroom as Kara orbited me, alternating between the scissors and the trimmers and mumbling quietly, “That’ll probably grow out.”

As far as I know, the last head of hair Kara had styled belonged to her childhood doll Baby, which, from the pictures, looked like one of the bad kid’s toys from Toy Story. As she snipped across my bangs, I’d already begun mentally composing a letter to Salman Rushdie asking for tips on laying low for a while.

The final result, though, actually came out looking pretty good, surprising us both. But I’m still waiting for my lollipop.

You can take a little off Mike Todd’s top at


  1. I've cut the hub's hair a few times. He gets a little angry with me when I buzz for a bit and then say, "oh shit." and then laugh hysterically.

    But here's what I say: "What are you getting angry for, ya cheap bastard? Go pay a professional if ya want a GOOD haircut!"

  2. We're lucky that the one haircut Tim knew was a cool one. Things would have been a lot different if we were a bunch of guys walking around with Ambrose Burnside haircuts.

  3. Miss Ann -- Ha. Told Kara about your comment (I'm pretty sure she doesn't have me bookmarked) and she laughed. Yeah, not much room to criticize when the price is right. Still, where the hell's the lollipop?

    Russ -- Excellent point. Also, a lot of people don't know this, but the facial hair popularized by shows like "Beverly Hills 90210" was named after Burnside himself, which is why we call them roseambs today.

  4. I cut both my husband and son's hair, but they get the only cut I know. I buzz it all off, that's it, no in between. hahahaha

    But they like it that way.

  5. Burf -- Your house sounds like the first scene from Full Metal Jacket. Would be nice to get a quick haircut like that. I can't wait til I go bald and that's my only option.

  6. I keep telling my husband to hurry and go bald so I can stop having to cut his hair. But he has no baldness on his side of the family, so I don't think it's gonna happen.

  7. No baldness in the whole family? I didn't know families like that existed. What do all the guys worry about, then?