Sunday, June 28, 2009


Professionals have trimmed my lovely locks only twice in the last 14 years.

For the other 26 or so cuts in the same period, I’ve let coarse amateurs have at it.

Sisters, friends, husband, self. I think my sister Amy was the first. When that became hard to coordinate, I began to hack at it desperately myself and, to my great surprise, got a fair number of compliments. My hair is very forgiving.

This method of grooming is not recommended for everyone. Especially not recommended for important people who are expected to look like their importance is justified. Also not recommended for unimportant people who are trying to get important and need to look deserving of a status upgrade. If I had a Career in the World, I would probably get a Haircut too.

But I don’t. I spend most of my time in two rooms of my house. It's a big week when I venture beyond the lawn three times. And I don’t like spending money on haircuts. Though I started home-schooling my hair for thrift, it became a practical necessity as my health went down, down, down. When you’re very limited, basic things like washing your feet or clipping your fingernails become wicked trouble. Or like getting a haircut. I couldn’t sit for half an hour. I couldn’t use up half a day of Larry’s overdemanded time for him to take me to a salon and bring me home. And I definitely could not hold my head in those bent positions they expect you to maintain. That, and the sitting, and the traveling to and fro, would have freakin’ destroyed me.

Instead, I found Larry could give me a satisfactory snipping in about 5 minutes. He’s tops for speed. What’s more we could do it sitting outside in the yard if I was up to it. Once when I was up to it we went to a nearby pond. Aesthetic contemplation and practical necessity, all in one pleasant 20-minute outing.

Some of my coolest cuts have come courtesy of sister Sarah, artist that she is. But residing thousands of miles away, she’s not the most accessible hairdresser.

And Larry has gotten better as I’ve tried to direct him less. Once, mid-cut, he got inspired, announced excitedly that he had an Idea, and started at me with a concentration I had not witnessed before. It made me nervous. But the result was lovely. And his artisinal style has continued to develop. The latest cut, now overgrown, was his best yet.

Only one near disaster has occurred. Last summer, being out of humor with my forehead, I decided I wanted bangs. I warned Larry that one has to cut the wet bangs long because they will bounce up short when they dry. Soon after he started in snipping, I started to panic. “That feels really short!” I protested. I put my hand to my emerging bangs; they were really short. “Well,” Larry said, halfway across my face, “I’ve got to keep going now.” At least, judging from the final product, he did veer down a bit.

My urban friends informed me that short, crooked bangs were “in.” And Alan fished up Web photos of cadaverous women in absurd clothing to prove it. However, I think the fashionableness of my new “do” was lost here in rural Vermont. It elicited no spontaneous compliments. My mom gave it the evil eye. But I ended up rather liking them bangs.

With home haircutting thrills so cheap, why would I ever go back to the salon? Well, I can think of one reason—a professional haircut. I doubt it would be worth the pain from holding my head in those funny positions, though.

Besides, this way I can pretend I’m part of a little-known movement to liberate hair from capitalism.

Some revolutions are quiet.


  1. If you ever need another local stylist who does a decent job for free and might even serve you pancakes too, I recommend Glenn's services. Until a week ago when I decided to go pro, he'd been cutting my hair and the children's hair. He's actually quite good.

  2. Last summer I traded my neighbor a cabbage for a haircut. It all took 10 minutes and her husband said - it looks good, I used to cut my horse's mane like that.

  3. Oh I had forgotten about my one time role as your coiffer. I do remember I was way more nervous than you were. Yes, your hair is VERY forgiving.


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