My Witt's End

A Cut Above



Spontaneity can be overrated. Consistency, at least for guys, makes life a lot easier. Things like getting a haircut for example. For the past 33 years I've gone to the same barber—let's call him Tom. (Names will be changed to protect the guilty.) I first wandered into his shop when I worked for a living in downtown Cleveland. It was close to my office, congenial and located near an Italian restaurant where I could get lunch for less than five dollars.


Over the years, Tom and I shared more war stories about Viet Nam, more divorce stories than I care to think about, and more new-found-love stories than I can remember. Tom is a vet plagued with PTSD. Consequently, I tried to limit the combat stories (in the jungle or in the marriage bed) and stick with happier events, like basketball or baseball, never football in Cleveland. He's a Trump supporter; me, not so much. Since he had his hands on sharp instruments, and I could not safely shake or nod my head, political conversations were usually one-way. (I know, I keep mixing tenses. I just feels better to write that way.)


About three weeks ago Susan was due to return from a two-week adventure in France. I thought it prudent, after cleaning the house, to get a haircut and spruce myself up a bit. I called the barber shop. One of the women Tom had recently rented stations to answered. The conversation went something like this:


Me. "Hi. Is Tom there?"

Female voice. "Oh, Tom has retired?"



"What? When? Why? How?" I realized I was beginning to sound like the journalist I'd been for forty years. "Ah, well, aaaa."

Female voice: "But either Marie or I would be glad to take care of you."

"Ah, I'll have to think about this."


I promptly dropped the phone and for the next 24 hours stared out the window, paced the floor and ate a lot of pizza. How could he do that to me? Just up and retire after 33 years without a word of goodbye? I searched for some contact information. I barely knew his last name, could not be sure of where he lived, and had not a clue as to what I'd say if I found him.


Another day of pacing the floor. Susan would be back in two days. I had to suck it up and get a haircut. I was beginning to look like Bernie Sanders on windy days during the campaign. There was that national-chain place nearby. It would mean not having to drive into downtown. How bad could things go?


I walked into a shop that was lit, sounded and smelled nothing like a barbershop. Too girlie. A young woman, whom I interrupted from doing something on her smart phone, stepped to the register (a computer, actually) and said, "Huh?"


Me. "Ah, do you take walk-ins?"

"It's all we take. What's yer phone number?"

"Ah (and I coughed up my phone number)."

"What's yer name?"


At this point the voices in my head that often help me when I'm writing started to say things like, "Git outta here, now, Buster."


Before I could turn and leave she said, "Yer next. Sit."


My butt was hardly in the chair when another young lady with a lot more charm and better looking body art, said, in a low voice, "Clyde?"


I rose on command. She walked me to a chair at the back of the room. In my writer's-mind I saw a scene from the movie, "Dead Man Walking."


I suppose, at this point I should mention that I'm, ah, folliclely challenged. So, as Sabrina fastened the cape around my neck she rubbed her hand across my bald pate and said, "So, other than taking a bit off the top today, what are we going to do?"


Suddenly, I knew it was going to be a good day after all.




Peggy May 25, 2017 @10:10 pm

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