“Tradition vs. Hair Clippers—Clippers Win!”
Elder Darrel L. Hammon
My 45-year-plus tradition of having the same hair cut has dissipated like due in Arizona in June. Gone. And it happened so suddenly.
My lovely bride of 32 years decided that she could cut my hair while we served a mission in the Caribbean. We trundled off to Cuesta, an ACE Hardware store next door to Nacional, one of the grocery stores here in the Santo Domingo, to buy a set of professional hair clippers. After reviewing an amazingly large number of clippers, Joanne settled on a black Remington, Model HC-921, 20+ piece clipper set that purported “A Superior Cute Every Time.” Well, with that slogan, Joanne was set.
While we looked at them, one of the salespersons, perhaps even one of the many managers, kept his distance, yet watchful and wanting to please. His name was Felix, a thin, smartly dressed man, in his late thirties with a thin mustache and thin glasses. We had some other things, including a Colman cooler. I pointed to all of the stuff we were buying—high-end items, mind you—and asked if there might be a discount. He gave me that “ah-let-me-take-a-look-at-the-books” look and off he went behind the counter, topped with lots of stuff.
Before too long, Felix came back, his smallish lips curled into a tell-tale smile. He gave me the thumbs up and motioned us toward one of the cash registers. The young cajera rang it up. Before she totaled it, she looked at Felix who deftly swiped his customer discount card, deducting a whopping 10% from my bill. I nodded approval and said con mucho gusto “Gracias, Felix.” Felix was pleased and left to help other customers.
Now armed with a new cutting machine, Joanne was ready. Soon after, Joanne used delicate care and cut my hair with both the clippers and the scissors and did a wonderful job. Well, the other day, it was time for another haircut. Because she only had a bit of time, she partially cut my hair, leaving my right side just a bit longer than my left. Now, most everyone else couldn’t really tell there was a difference, but incredibly I could tell and amazingly Joanne could, too, especially if she tilted her head slightly left and then slightly right and compared the two sides, rather carefully and discreetly.
After working with the Bishops’ Storehouse people last evening, I came upstairs, and Joanne was ready to finish the job and balance me out. She carefully took out her Remington Model HC-921 and begin cutting, gingerly at first. Soon, though, she was busily gliding the same comb guide as before though my hair. Before too long she was done and let me know.
Ever picky me, I thought my side burns needed just a touch up, a little more thinning, a quick flick of the clippers gliding gracefully over my white comb. Somehow the comb stayed put in its place. I heard a “oops” and panicked somewhat. When Joanne says “oops,” usually that means something drastic has happened. Drastic was an understatement! What was a balanced cut before now possessed a profound nick on the right side of my head, just left of my side burn and a bit above the right ear. We decided right then we had better even this out. She pulled out another one of those “guide combs.”
“Are you sure you know how short this one cuts?” I quizzed her.
“No problem! I think I do.” With that she began her gliding through my hair. When I felt tiny globs of hair on my neck and then another glob or two fall surreptitiously onto the black plastic cape, I knew this was not going well.
She reluctantly gave me a mirror to view myself. The sides were pretty short, actually really short, and the top looked like a mini-Mohawk. My little flip that I have loved so much was blurting “help me” in all directions. It looked out of place and disengaged from the rest of my head.
“Run the clippers through it and even everything out,” I whimpered, knowing full well my life was about to change forever.
Joanne turned them on and glided that Remington Model HC-921 right through my traditional flip that had been with me since 1st grade. At that very moment, I felt the buzz of the clippers close to my head and words from the “product features” section floated through my mind: “…helping you maintain of hair styles.”
At that moment, I didn’t want a “range of hair styles.” I wanted my 45-year range—that is singular—style only. But the thoughts were all for naught. Joanne shut off the clippers and said, “That is the shortest haircut you have ever had.”
I reluctantly raised my hand, hesitating for just a moment, just a mere moment, before the revelation came, and I allowed the palm of my hand to witness the new reality. What I felt caused me almost to fall off the toilet seat, Joanne’s hair cutting chair. It was gone. All of it. Gone! I stood up and looked into the mirror. Someone else looked back at me. I didn’t recognize the man with no hair. “Pelado” was all that ran through my head, now bare. Pelado. Peeled.
Joanne was devastated; I was devastated. My years of care, the careful part on the right side, the little flip that distinguished my do from the rest, my trademark—all gone, dissipated. For the rest of the short evening—it was now about 10:30 p.m.—I kept touching my hands to my head, hoping it would all magically appear. But, no, it didn’t. I showered, rubbing my pelado head in the water, feeling stubble. Plain hair stubble.
During the night, I awoke, hoping it was all a dream. When morning came, I walked to the mirror, looked once, and said to Joanne, “No hay sueño solo realidad.” There is no dream only reality. We both laughed. It was done. The new look was there. There was/is/will be nothing we can do about it. Instead of the difference between a good hair cut and a bad hair cut being two weeks, I suspect this one may take a month to six weeks, perhaps even two months. For some reason, my hair doesn’t grow as fast as it used to.
And thus it is and will be for some time.