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In like a Lion by Carstairs


You never know what to expect in Southern California weather wise during March. This year has been no exception. We actually started with a bitter cold rain. A week later it was in the 80's. A few days after that, it was still warm but the Santa Anna winds had kicked up and blew through town with gusts up to 40 miles an hour most of the day.

The wind was the part I hated the most. I kept my hair in a sharp looking businessman's cut, parted on the side. As soon as the wind kicks up, I might as well forget combing my hair. To add to the pain is the nice cowlick in the back of my head, right where it's hard to see to comb. While I look sharp when combed, with the wind I feel scruffy.

I got up early that particular Saturday. I had some errands I wanted to run, and I wanted to get them out of the way early so I could watch the basketball games that afternoon. I fought the wind as I ran my 5 miles, then hopped in the shower. When I was out and dressed, I carefully combed my hair. As soon as I stepped out of the front door, the wind blew my hair every which way. By the time I got in my car, I looked like I'd stuck my finger in an electric socket. I didn't even bother to brush it down, but drove straight to Glen's.

About a year ago, I moved across town. That's when I switched barbers to Glen. He was just opening his shop in my neighborhood. We were about the same age and had fun chatting when I was in his shop once a month for a haircut.

The first time I'd gone into his shop, I'd commented on his nice buzz cut. It couldn't have been more then a quarter inch on top faded down the sides.

"You like it, Shane?" he'd asked me. "I can fix you right up. Takes no maintenance time in the morning, and that cowlick of yours would disappear completely."

"Maybe someday, but not today," I'd said.

Over the next few months, he'd brought it up again, pointing out how cool is was when I complained about the summer heat or mentioning the wind never messed it up when I complained about the wind last fall. Still, he'd never pushed me, and did a fantastic job when I'd gone in for a cut.

I was surprised when I got to his shop to see that no one was waiting. When I checked the time, I realized he'd just opened. I marched right in the door.

"Morning, Glen."

I think he was trying to stifle a grin at the sight of my hair, but I'll never be able to prove it. "Morning, Shane. Weren't you just in last week?"

I nodded as I sat in the chair. "Yeah, but it's time for the cut."

"The cut?"

"Yep. Let's get rid of it!"

Glen walked around the chair to look me in the eye. "So, what do you want me to do? Completely shave it?"

I laughed. "No, but that is what I implied, wasn't it? I want a buzz like yours, like you've been trying to talk me into all year."

Glen grinned. "You got it." He walked back around and flipped the cape over me. "One Glen look alike coming right up."

He picked up the clippers and turned them on. As we started chatting about how the basketball playoffs were shaping up, he started running the clippers up the back of my head.

Frankly, this was nothing new. He always used the clippers back there. But he just plowed them right up and over the crown. He kept doing this again and again, working his way around my head. Then, without pausing, he ran them over the top of my head.

The shop has mirrors all the way around it, so I could see the difference as soon as he started. Our conversation stalled as I watched fascinated as my hair slid off my head, down the cape, and onto the floor. In no time at all, he was finished.

"So, what do you think?"

I pulled my hand out from under the cape and ran it over my head. It felt different, but my hand didn't permanently displace any hair. I grinned. "Looks great!"

"I knew you'd like it. Now let me finish up the sides."

He switched blades on the clippers and started working on the sides and back again, this time working more carefully to make sure he got the blending just right. He spent about as long on this part as he had on buzzing my entire head in the first place. Then, he put on a still smaller blade and went around again. Finally, he spread some lather around for an outline shave.

"Still like it?" he asked as he held up a mirror so I could see the back.

"Absolutely wonderful! Why didn't you talk me into this earlier?"

Glad laughed as he pulled the cape from me. "I predict you'll be back in two weeks to keep it looking sharp. You might even have me cut it closer next time."

"Never satisfied, are you? I finally got the cut you've been wanting to give me for a year, and you're already on your next campaign."

"Fine. I'll be content. For today." His grin was almost mischievous. "Enjoy your cut."

I waved my goodbye and walked out the door. A blast of wind hit me almost immediately. It felt different; my bristles were acting more like antennae. But they stayed in place. Not that they were long enough to go anywhere. But it was still a revelation.

Naturally, that was the last day of the strong wind. The old saying really is true. "March came in like a lion and left like a lamb."

But for me? It's been two weeks, and my first stop this morning is Glen's to get my haircut sharpened up.



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