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I got my hair cut at Great Clips today because I like a great clip. Even if I was rich, spending fifty bucks on a trim would not sit well with me. My hair is long and all one length; how hard could it be to cut a straight line all the way around?
I waited my turn, grading papers to pass the time. It’s Paper-Grading Season and teachers like me carry them everywhere: to the car wash, to the dentist, to the gym. If you can knock one off at a red light, bully for you.
Somebody called my name and I looked up to see a good-looking man standing behind the counter. He was tall and slender, sexy in a Dr. Drew kind of way, if Dr. Drew wasn’t albino. This guy had tousled salt-and-pepper hair and an easy smile. He looked like he could be a runner or a gymnast, or good in bed. But of course, he was probably gay.
He got me in the chair and told me his name: Dane. The entire Thornbirds saga rose inside me, tingling out to my fingers and toes. I’d read the whole book when I was ten, stuck in a Winnebago with my family on a trip to the East Coast. Back then it was porn. I suddenly liked Dane even more, even though he was probably gay.
I told him what I wanted (regarding the great clip…I had already put my loins on pause.) “I always get it cut straight across,” I said firmly. “No layers! It’s all one length."
He started doing what hairdressers do and said, “Your hair is longer in front than it is in back. Did you know that?”
“I sensed it,” I said. I’ve been walking around with basset hound ears since my last great clip but have been too busy to care. I’ve been pretending it was all one length.
“So do you have any kids?” Dane asked as I watched his long fingers and muscular hands dance around my head.
“No,” I said. “Never wanted any.”
“I always said that too,” said Dane, his silk shirt rusting against my cape, sinewy arms reaching in and out of my vision. The hairs on my own arms stood on end; they are equal-opportunity girls. Dane went on: “I never wanted to get married and never wanted kids.”
Yeah, because you’re gay, I thought.
“But now I have an eleven-year-old daughter,” Dane said, clipping away. “Still never married though!”
Hm! I thought. Maybe not gay! I put my loins back on play. Could this good-humored man with the winning smile and cat-like moves be straight? Available? Flirting with me? I struggled to come up with a flirty retort. “I pluck out my grays,” I said.
“You shouldn’t pull them out!” Dane scolded me, making me wish I’d worn my plaid skirt and Mary Janes to Great Clips. I definitely needed a spanking. “Even more will come back. Use a Sharpie to color them in. Little-known trick but it works great.”
Could I get to know Dane well enough so that he would color my grays with a Sharpie and then roll around in bed with me then hang my pictures and do my yard work? Could Dane be my boyfriend?
“So where do you go in the summer when you’re not visiting in Minnesota?” he asked, interrupting our future.
“I’m going to the Middle East next month so I’m not too concerned with travel beyond that and a safe return.” I’m such a bitch! What’s wrong with me? Why must the soft parts of me retract and the thorns of me always push out?
Still trimming my ends, making the front match the back, Dane pointed with his beautifully curved chin towards the magazine I had put on the counter. “Did you find an article in there that you like?
“No, I’m using it as a folder to carry around my students’ papers.”
“Oh, well you can take it home with you if you want.”
“That is MY magazine, sir!”
Dane blushed like I would at a time like that, having made the same kind of mistake: giving people what already belongs to them, in the tradition of white people everywhere. “Here, you can have this cart,” I’ll say in the grocery store to an old man whose cart I have stolen. “Take your coat,” I’ll say, pushing a dinner guest out of my home. “That’s mighty white of ya,” my Indian customers would say years ago when I would tell them they could sit wherever they wanted in the restaurant where I waitressed. I got used to it; I deserved it; it was the least I could put up with, knowing my white skin would always be better off than theirs.
I think that I’m better off than Dane, the probably-straight guy who cuts hair at Great Clips, but the discrepancy is nothing: skin is skin. I’m going to request Dane the next time I’m there. For exactly what, I’m not sure, but I’ll think of something.