When Wes and I were newlyweds, we were poor.
No, really. We had part-time jobs as janitors at the seminary, which meant that neither one of us was getting paid much. And because I didn’t do what Southwestern subtly encouraged other female students to do once they got a ring on their finger (drop out of your graduate program, get a fulltime job on campus, and put your man through his program), we didn’t get the benefit of spouse scholarships. We were paying for two tuitions with jobs that couldn’t support one.
But it was all good, because Wes devised some great money-saving schemes, the greatest of which was the haircutting scheme.
Oh, yeah. You can see where this is going.
I had grown up without the benefit of brothers and with the reality that is a nearly bald father (sorry, Dad), so I was completely ignorant when it came to the facts of life regarding how often men need to have their hair cut. A few appointments into marriage, I was shocked enough by how expensive Wes’s hair care needs were that he was able to talk me into learning how to cut his hair. Thanks to a gift card left over from our wedding, I was able to buy a set of clippers and a helpful instructional DVD.
It’ll be so easy, they said. You’ll be a pro in no time at all, they said.
No matter what they said, I still felt a little nervous when Wes pulled a chair into the very cold kitchen of our old hundred year old parsonage/hovel/love nest, handed me the clippers, plopped himself down, and said, “You’re going to do awesome.”
He should have been as nervous as I was, y’all. I did great at first, doing the back and the sides with the right guard, then changing to another guard for the top and doing the “fade” while holding the comb, just like in the video. I even got around his ears without drawing blood! Winning!
“Now, you’ve gotta clean up the hair on my neck,” he said to me.
And like the sweet, kind, newbie wife that I was, I shrieked, “Eww! You have hair back here! I’ve never noticed that before!” (Ahh, newlywed discoveries. Your husband is really hairy, and your wife can only cook fish sticks. This was our reality.)
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Take the guard off and just shave it off. But be careful.”
And so I was very, very careful. Even as he told me, “go up to the hairline,” I was careful. And in my pride over a job so well done, I just kept right on going up his neck, into his hair, up to his ears.
With the guard off.
I gasped as soon as I saw what I’d done. And Wes, God bless him, said, like it was no big deal at all, “I feel a breeze.”
“Just even it out,” he said, probably having second thoughts about this hair-cutting plan… and possibly about marrying me.
So, I shaved the other half and declared that I would NEVER cut his hair again. But necessity won out over common sense, and I spent the next four years of our marriage cutting his hair. I never got good at it. I never enjoyed it. And there was a long span of time in Japan when I was so stressed out with a baby and so pregnant and hormonal with another baby on the way, that I refused to cut his hair and told him to go on the base to get it done. (If you’ve ever seen pictures from that time period and wonder why Wes looks like a US Marine… there you go.)
In Oklahoma, he spared me the drama and got his hair cut regularly. But here in Houston, he’s so busy and life is so crazy that he has trouble getting it done consistently. And though I suspect that he lets his hair get long so as to bait me into action, he insists that he lets it go because he just doesn’t have the time.
He came up with a solution to this problem. And it’s suspiciously like a solution he had years ago.
Yes, he “gifted” me with another set of clippers and told me we have a weekly date from now on. He won’t have to squeeze a hair cut into regular hours this way. He can keep his hair super short all the time. He can get it done anytime and can hit on the woman doing it. Win, win!
“You’re a brave man,” I told him on the inaugural run, holding the clippers, remembering how it felt to stand in that kitchen in Fort Worth, my janitor’s shirt on, his hair in my hands, and a really awful attempt at dinner cooking on the stove.
“You’re going to do awesome,” he said, even though he certainly must know better by now. “And, hey, if not, you can just shave it all. It’ll grow back.”
And that, friends? Is why the pastor looked nearly bald this past Sunday at church.
I’ll do a better job next time. Surely, right?