Haircuts (Don’t be Chicken!)

Boys don't like haircuts or picture takings. 

Boys don’t like haircuts or picture takings.

One of my many tasks around here is that of the town Barber. Once upon a time, a long time ago, Grandma Purdy used to cut the boys’ hair. Between her declining health, and the ever increasing amount of boys (and their hair), she was forced to drop the task, and I was nominated to fill it. The first couple of times were difficult–meaning, time consuming; I don’t believe the boys wound up looking any more dreadful than they usually do–but it took me a long time to do each hair cut. Nowadays, I think my average time for a haircut is about 7 minutes. Still, 7 minutes x 9 boys = 63 minutes, and that’s more than an hour, not even counting the time it takes to play musical chairs and/or drag people kicking and screaming to their fate.


I generally cut everyone’s hair at the same time, or as close to that as possible (sometimes peoples’ schedules make it inconvenient or impossible to get everyone lined up), and do it about once a month or whenever I feel guilty noticing the shaggy heads about me. Last Tuesday was such an occasion, so everyone got scalped.

Although the general theory of my haircutting remains the same, everyone has their own quirks, like this:

 Dad, alas, is getting older. The main trick to cutting his hair is not cutting off too much of it. It shouldn’t hang into his eyes or ears (not that he cares, mind you), but it also shouldn’t reveal the fact that his hairline is, indeed, receding (which I think he might mind, at least a bit).

 Teman has very thick hair, which is prone to making the hair clippers choke. He has a mostly straight-forward haircut; the trickiest part is trimming his beard to match. He, as all of the boys, would love to grow a waist-length beard (and they tell me if they ever manage it, they will let me fork it and braid it). Sadly, his only grows so long, and then breaks off. Mostly it just gets bushier and bushier, to the end that when I cut all the hair on top of his head, he looks completely lopsided. I wouldn’t care if he didn’t care, but he’s decided they ought to stay rather proportionate. The tricky part is that, like all the boys, he twizzles his beard when he thinks, and he thinks quite a bit. That leaves a rather twisted, ratty mess which I’m supposed to straighten out and make match the rest of his head. I’m getting better at it every time, I think, but it’s still a bit tricky.

 Rundy’s quirk is that he has what I believe is called "widow’s peaks"–although the front of his hairline comes out as far as expected, it dips back quite far on the sides. This makes trimming the front a bit trickier for me. He doesn’t have a beard enough to ever warrant trimming (he tortures it so while thinking and writing, he shall be lucky if the poor thing even survives). Rundy likes efficiency, and a bit shorter of a haircut than some of the others. He keeps wondering if it would be better to use the cheap plastic guides that come with the clippers. I’ve never tried, and I confess to say I don’t see much reason to bother trying when I’m already quick and comfortable with my comb and clipper routine.

Arlie, of course, has curly hair, and that really used to put me in knots. I think I’ve got it down pat now, but sometimes it still looks odd to me. He was the first one to ask for beard trimming, mostly because he didn’t much care for his spotty, fluffy beard, and preferred that, if the whole thing wasn’t going to fill in properly, it be close trimmed. My only real claim to fame here is that, even though he’s currently living with Grandma Purdy, he still prefers my haircuts to hers. So I must be doing something right.

 Lachlan’s hair stands straight up on top. It’s very peculiar. No amount of combing or water could ever get it to lie flat, and no amount of water or styling is necessary to get it to stand up. I cut the sides and back as normal, but when I cut the top I always feel more as though I’m trimming a hedge than cutting hair. After I cut the top, I peer at it to see if I’ve managed to get to, at the very least, a close approximation of a regular shape. It never fails that every time I’m standing there scrutinizing my work he says something along the lines of "Face it, Titi, you just can’t make me any better looking than I already am," or some variation thereof.

 Collin’s hair is very easy to cut, except for the fact it is the thickest, the most wiry hair in the universe. It makes the hair trimmers want to cry. Cutting a brillo pad would probably be easier.

 Evan’s hair grows faster than the grass. Especially during the summer. I can hack it all off down to a scant 1/4 of an inch, and by the time he gets up the next morning, he’s verging on an afro again. I cut his hair the shortest of anyone’s, but you can hardly ever tell.

 Justin’s hair is pretty easy to cut, but he has a very annoying cowlick on the right side of his forehead, so his bangs are always crooked, despite my best efforts.

 Owen is the most worried about how his hair will come out, hence, the most fun to cut. I can always get a good reaction out of him just by saying, "Oops" or "Oh, well, hopefully no one will notice." He has the softest hair, and it seems he has widows peaks like Rundy. His hair used be quite blond, but it is getting more brown by the year.

 Caleb has nice, cooperative hair; the rest of him has a bit more trouble. He says the hairclippers tickle terribly when I trim the hair on his neck, and I used to have to get Lachlan to pry Caleb’s head up out of his shoulders (he’d pull his head in like a turtle) just to get at his neck. He’s much better now; he only shivers convulsively and giggles like crazy.

 Anyway, this Tuesday while cutting Evan’s hair, I realized that his hair was standing up. Not all over the top of his head, as Lachlan’s does. Just one strip down the center of his head, much like a mohawk, or a rooster comb. I told Evan I was going to cut off all his hair except for that one strip. He said "Ok. Go ahead." (He likes playing with fire.)

Unfortunately, when we ran this idea past Mom, she wasn’t too thrilled.

 "Hey, Mom, I’m going to give Evan a mohawk!" Silence.

 "She said no!" Evan laughs.

 "She did not! She didn’t say anything!"

"She made a face!" Evan is still laughing. Apparently, he could see her face and it was amusing; but my back was to her as I cut his hair. I took a peek to see if it really was that amusing.

 "I don’t want any of my children to have mohawks," she said.

Bummer. So I just cut the sides and back as usual, and then took a picture of him with his chicken comb. This was less appreciated than the threat of a mohawk. He scowled; he made faces. This amused me endlessly, and I giggled at him from behind the camera. Then he would grin, and then shortly there after get mad at me, because he most certainly did not want to get caught on film (digital or otherwise) with a smile on his face, for pete’s sake. Nonetheless, I got my pictures, and finished the hair cut. (And I did manage to get him on film with a smile, too.)

Evan's mohawk Oh, no! I'm almost smiling!Proper finish to the joke. And I did steal his smile!

Next I was cutting Caleb’s hair, and out of the blue he asked if I could give him a chicken comb as well. This took me by surprise, but I suppose it’s the same as making horns out of hair when you’re getting your hair shampooed. (Alas, I haven’t been able to do that for a very long time as it only works on short hair.) I was game to give it a try, but his hair wasn’t as much. His hair isn’t inclined to stand up as much as Evan’s, but Caleb had had the good luck of sleeping funny on his hair that night, and it did stand up funny a bit in the back. But it still needed a good deal of coaxing from the water and comb. He was tickled pink, and apparently drove the others to jealousy. Justin wished he hadn’t already had his hair cut, so he could have had one, but I nipped that in the bud. Justin’s hair lies totally flat; in fact, his hair clings to his head with both hands. I’d have better luck getting him to fly than to get his hair stand straight up.

Civilized again, though I'm still having trouble getting the hair to lie down in the back.Caleb's best imitation of a chickenSee, it only properly stands up in the back.I like my haircut! 

 So next time you come through Purdyville, be sure to ask for a hair-cut. I may even be able to make you look like a chicken!