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Buzz Cut

My husband, Jim, hadn’t had time to get a haircut before we moved. It was long and looked unkempt, retro-hippie, which was not okay with him, even though we’d moved to a retro- hippieish town. But where to go? There was the barber shop on Main Street ($9 for students), closed Mondays, and a salon in the mall, so that’s where we went.

Jim gets along with just about everyone and toggles easily between high and low culture. His cutter was a guy so he began with guy talk. They called each other “buddy,” which is really retro. I sat and read my highbrow book, “Flowers of the Killer Moon,” by David Grann about the Osage murders on their oil-rich reservation in Oklahoma in the 1920’s. None of it was making me smile.

I looked up as the first skein of locks fell to the floor. The cutter had taken out the lawn mower when Jim said: “Short. I don’t want a haircut for a while.” So involved was he in conversation with the affable cutter that I don’t think he noticed that he was getting a buzz cut. For an instant I rose out of my chair, but it was too late, there was no stopping it. I suppressed a giggle.

The guy talk continued: Motorcycles segued to California, Route 101 and driving 165 miles an hour without a cop in sight. (The cutter boasting, not Jim.) Then I heard the word “daughters.” The cutter has four and they are mostly okay, he said. There is only one he’s wanted to hit over the years, but stopped himself. Now Jim nearly got out of his chair: “Think of what we do to ourselves when we hit our children,” he said, deadpan. I could see the cutter’s face drop: the guy talk was over.

When I first met Jim at UC-Berkeley he was in the Navy Reserve after serving his country for two years on a ship in the Seventh Fleet. Because he was going to Reserve meetings every week on Treasure Island, he had to keep his hair short. He looked spiffy in his Navy Whites and very buzzy, macho cut. What would he think of this one? What did I think? “You look like a cop,” I wanted to say, disapprovingly, but didn’t. I’d let our daughter assess the unplanned change in her dad’s appearance when we arrived at Mother’s Day celebrations on Sunday. I knew she'd be polite, encouraging, and loving to her tender, non-macho, feminist father.
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