Sunday, May 17, 2020

A new skill for sheltering in place

by Karen Brattesani,
        guest blogger

Due to salon closures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly everyone we see on Zoom conference calls is in need of a haircut. Although some states have recently allowed hair salons to reopen, those in Washington State have not.

The first in our family to sport a longer look than he wanted was my husband. He had scheduled a haircut for March 17, the day after salons were ordered to close. Poor timing.

By mid-April, his wavy salt and pepper locks required serious application of hair product, without which it puffed out wildly around his ears. He began to resemble any number of dead presidents, as pictured on the paper money we consider dangerous to touch these days. Not a good look.

I did what any loving wife would do; I watched a half dozen YouTube videos, brandished a pair of scissors I use only to trim my bangs, and sat Doug in a chair on the deck for a home-cut. Sounds OK, home-cut. Sounds like comfort food, sort of like fries.

I’d done my research. Online videos varied widely. They ranged from step-by-step hair-cut tutorials to demos of modern style-cutting techniques accompanied by jazzy background music but little instruction. Then, there was the Irish sheep farmer who stood in his field and clipped away on his own head with his sheep shears. “It’ll grow back in a couple of days,” he said with a charming lilt, “so nobody will notice anyway.”

I was used to my scissors. They are not the compact, 4-inch model that professionals wield. Mine I inherited from my mother - the same scissors she used to use to trim my bangs when I was in elementary school. I don’t know why she felt she needed seven-inch long blades to cut hair, but just as she only used her sewing scissors to cut fabric, she only used these seven-inchers to cut hair. Still razor sharp, they were up to the job. 

But now you are concerned about Doug, so let me allay your fears: He lives. He did not shed blood. He waited until I was done to say, “I was surprised you felt confident enough to do this.” Both the credit and the blame go to YouTube. I watched. I watched some more. I dove in, just as instructed. 

I combed out each narrow vertical section along the sides of Doug’s head, held the hair two fingers’ width from his head and snipped, a section at a time, working lower in the back, all along his hairline. Next, I worked across the middle-back, using the shorter length below as a guide but cutting slightly longer. I went easy on the less dense parts on top, cutting them long enough to fluff and fill in, but short enough to avoid any hint of a comb-over. Doug’s trimmer came in handy to shorten the hair along the neck and to sculpt sharp sideburns and edges. Doug says he’s happy. I’m especially happy with the front and that’s all Doug sees in the mirror. The rest will do for now, but I can see where some spots are as raggedy as my technique. Fortunately, Doug’s wavy locks are forgiving. 

At the end of May, Doug will be due for another cut. Will it be another “home-cut” or will salons reopen to offer him a professional do? Only time will tell how practiced I will become. 

As for my own hair, Doug has as little interest in trying to cut it as I have in letting him. I will continue to cut my own bangs, but that is all. Besides, according to YouTube videos, to cut the rest of my hair off my own head I would need sheep shears. And the cut would be a bit shorter than I have in mind. I think I’ll let it grow out.