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This Won't Hurt--Hold Still

How to save Big Money around the house.

12:00 AM, Apr 10, 2006 • By LARRY MILLER
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"Your hair is really, really long," I said--that's how sharp I am--and one of them asked if I'd take them to get it cut that day. Can you imagine? It gets long enough to bother them to the point they actually ask if they can get it cut. Not over the ears or anything, which I think is weird in kids. Just four or five months longer than a crew cut. It piles up pretty thick.

That's when the light bulb flickered on and off weakly over my head, and I said, "Say, why don't I do it? I'll cut your hair."

I'll skip the spirited back and forth to overcome their natural suspicions, or how long it took me to find where they'd hidden after running away as fast as they could (behind the water heater again; so predictable). Suffice to say, exactly five minutes after Joel McCrea said, "I know that. I always knew it," to Randolph Scott, and asked him not to let Mariette Hartley see him--well, see what was about to happen--I loaded them into the tumbrel for the sad trip to The National Barber.

I cleared a little area in our bathroom between the two sinks and pushed aside all my wife's creams and perfumes and things, grabbed a section of the newspaper that was sitting on the hamper, and spread it out to catch the hair. (You can probably guess which section it was. Go on, guess. Correct.)

I sat the first one down in my wife's makeup chair, and made him lean over the newspaper like Thomas More. He handed me a shilling and forgave me, and I slid the Wahl razor out of the straw behind him, plugged it in, and went to work. And, no kidding, the kids were digging it and laughing every bit as much as I was. At least initially.

And let me just take a moment here to say something: It's not easy cutting hair. I don't say that as a kiester-smooch to all the barbers and hair stylists out there, I'm just saying, it's not easy cutting hair. Not as easy as I thought it would be, anyway. I mean, what the heck, how tough could it be? I wasn't cutting Joan Rivers' hair for the Oscars, it's just two little-boy buzz cuts with an electric razor on the half-inch setting, a little longer in front to stick up with some Butch Wax. All right, I wasn't thinking it through. I know that now. Where were all of you with your big advice when I needed you?

Never mind "easy," I kind of couldn't do it. Really. It was hysterical. I'd go a little up one side and then down the other, but it was hard going, and a lot of hair escaped (which I didn't understand), and I'd get bored with one section and go on to another, like the contestant on a Lightning Round who says, "I'll come back to that one, Dick. Next, please."

Another thing you might need to know, in case you're considering doing this yourself: I didn't put towels or anything around their heads. It was just damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, and a lot of hair got all over their necks and down their backs. And in their noses. And, well, they didn't like that so much. That was around the same time most of the laughter stopped.

There was hair piled and sifted over everything in the room except for one place: the newspaper I had laid out. It was still as clean as when I slid it out of its womb that morning. It was amazing. That section couldn't have had less human hair on it if I'd left it wrapped on the driveway. The fact that it was also the section that has all the toupee and hair-restoration ads was not lost on me.

So I finished the first boy, in a very rough sort of way, and set him on the side. To be honest, he didn't look good. Impoverished farm families in the thirties gave kids better haircuts with bowls on their heads. But I couldn't stop. I was having too much fun. The second one popped into the chair (a plucky kid, considering what he'd just seen) and away we went again.

I was giggling like a madman.

See, I thought I'd do the finishing touches on the first one after I finished the second, and vice-versa. A few minutes in, though, the one I'd just set aside was getting itchy and impatient and angry. "One chair, no waiting," I tried cheerfully, but I could tell the poor kid was uncomfortable. I could tell it from the screaming. "Okay, honey, take everything off, and we'll stick you in the shower. Oh, stop it, the razor didn't cut you. It absolutely did not. Where? I don't see it. Show it to me. Ooh. Oh. Yeah, I see it. Hmm. Uh-oh. All right, listen, that goes away in an hour or two. Don't worry about it. Don't mention it, either. Take off your clothes, and get in the shower. HEY. TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES, AND GET IN THE SHOWER."