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Listening, an Underrated Skill by Ken


I was reading the paper when my wife started blathering. "Huh?" I said

"I think you'd look good. Are you worried about losing your hair?"

"What? No, what makes you ask such a thing?"

"I don't know, it looks like your hair is thinning," she said.

"You're nuts," I said and returned to the box scores.

"Still, I think you should be proactive about it."

"About what?" The Cubs are winning and I want to read about it, shut up, woman. Jeeze.

"My salon, Becky, you know Becky, she's nice. They have a process to keep it from happening."

"Too keep what from happening?"

"For people losing their hair. They have a process. You should try it."

She went on and on about that or something along that lines. It's gotten harder and harder to block out voices, but when I'm reading baseball scores and stores, I'm the champ. I like a lot of baseball teams, love the Cubs (win or lose) but love them even more when they're...

"Are you even listening to me?"

"What?"

"I said I'll make an appointment."

In times like this, it's best to just agree, or you'll never get back to the Sports pages. Women, none of them, at least none that I've ever met, understand priorities. Or if they do, they're wrong.

The next morning, Saturday, my wife told me to get ready for the appointment. I had no idea what the hell she was talking about but found it best to agree and ask how I should dress. She joked a tuxedo would be fine which is women talk for just wear pants, stupid. Oh and a shirt would be good too.

She drove. Baseball Weekly had come in the morning mail and used the drive time to read. I like the Yankees, as much as you can and still like the Cubs and read a nice story on their weak pitching staff. She stopped the car in front of the salon she usually goes to.

"What the hell are we doing here?" I asked. Nicely, though I didn't get any credit for THAT.

"You're hair appointment."

"I go to Joey's. Been going there since I was a kid."

"You're not a kid anymore. Becky will help your hair. Come on."

I knew a command when I heard one. So I followed, took a seat and read my magazine until someone came to get me. I think she was a women but I wasn't about to ask. So I followed her back and for the first time in my life, someone else actually washed my hair. I told her I already washed it, but that didn't seem to matter. I don't like people touching me. I think I'd like to try a massage some time, but then that would require that someone touch...

"Did you hear me?"

"Huh?"

"Follow me, please."

I did and took a seat. My wife's stylist came and talked about my hair. She combed it and combed it. And she talked and talked about my hair. I didn't think there was that much to talk about, regarding my hair, but she found many things. To be honest, I didn't listen much. I think people like that would get more people to listen if they talked like they were commentating a baseball game. You know the cadence, '3 balls 2 strikes, Jablonski's fouled off the last two pitches and with Stempkee on first and a threat to steal...'

"How does that sound?" she said.

"Huh?" My wife was looking at me while she was talking.

"It's a big step, but I think you'll like it."

Nodding seemed to be the best course of action. It's a bad habit I have, toning people out. To be honest, I paid more attention to the first base coach when I played baseball than I ever have to most of the people I have in my life. It's a bad habit, I suppose and one that will certainly come back to bite me in the backside. That got me to thinking about my playing days. I remember a game in Toldeo against the Mud Hens. I don't know why I always wanted to play against the Mud Hens...but boy it was a great game. One of of those nights that was made for baseball. Mid 70s, not a cloud in the sky, light breeze helping the batter and by that time in my not so great career, I needed all the help I could...

"Not much longer now."

"Huh?"

"Almost done. Just a trim to the what's left on the sides and back."

"Oh, okay." That got me out of my fog. "What's left? Not sure I follow."

She laughed and tapped my shoulder. "You're being silly. Hold still."

I had a feeling of cold on the top of my head, I could feel the draft from the air conditioner. I wanted to put my had up there to see, but the cape and I was afraid I'd lose my page in the magazine. But she was done and took off the cape. My wife said something in the way of approval and then they spun me around to see the mirror.

"What did you do?" I was bald on top, with just a fringe left. The fringe was short and only about 2 inches high. "Why did you shave the top of my head?!"

"We didn't shave it," Becky said. "We removed it. If we shaved it, it'd grow back. You're now bald on top. We talked about it, don't your remember? It was only about an hour ago. We talked about using a laser to remove the hair."

"You never listen," my wife said, That was the beginning of what she said. I knew a hitting coach who sounded just like my wife, he had this high squeaky voice, except he always had a plug of chaw in his cheek, so it was a little garbled and he was always wiping brown juice from his chin, but he was great hitting coach. I should have listened to him more, maybe I'd have gone farther in the game.



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