Growing up in in Maine, our little country town was unique in one regard. The town of only 2000 people boasted three barbers. One shop called Jerry’s was on Main Street. My mother and sister were at the five and dime store and since it was just down the street, my mother gave me money to have a long overdue haircut. Barbers were always a bit intimidating for me. Back then they wore outfits that resembled a large apron and they always were overtly friendly.
On this day, Jerry was clumsy. Being all of ten years of age I wasn’t able to discern that life has equations that help us detect when something could go horribly awry. In my case what I hadn’t learned was: slurred speech plus a disheveled appearance adds up to “find another barber.” As I got into the chair and was cranked up in it too his level, I was bowled over by his medicinal scent. His breath smelled like a bad mouthwash I’d never smelled before. If there was proof it was mouthwash it would probably be 120-proof.
As I sat in the chair and watched him go to work on my head I became alarmed. An upright Hoover with a wobbly belt would have done a better job on my hair. In fact when he finished and I looked in the mirror, I looked like I had been run over by a lawnmower with a warped blade. My head was short in places it had never been and left long in places it shouldn’t. I bolted out the door and down the street to the store my mother was shopping in. By this time I was holding back tears. I begged my mother to buy me a hat; any hat! I would have even worn Minnie Pearl’s hat if that was the only one available, it was that bad.
That episode in my life had long been forgotten until today. Waiting for my wife, I saw a hair school sign. The sign touted all haircuts were supervised by instructors. I placed my five dollars and hair line in the hands of a young tattooed student with silver teeth reminiscent of the character JAWS in the James Bond movies. When I first walked into the establishment and was asked to pay in advance that should have been my first clue. Brimming with faith as I entered the would be barber school, I quickly learned there is a fine line between faith and presumption.
As I nervously awaited the trimming, the instructor did one side then quickly handed his shears to his novice student. Six tuffs, two skinnings, and one bald patch later, I was done. You know it’s bad when before the session is even over, the instructor hands you a certificate good for another free haircut; which really happened.
The debacle of my second worst haircut has not discouraged me nor am I in therapy, it will grow back. But you may find it odd when I preach this weekend; I will be wearing a ball cap. It’s only appropriate that it’s a New England Patriots hat too because just like their footballs, my ego is also deflated.