This is the first time I’ve ever given my Dad a haircut. I’m reluctant, but have agreed to do it on the following terms:

1. PARTY A [Hereafter: THE HAIRDRESSER] agrees to cut the hair of PARTY B [Hereafter: THE HAIRDRESSEE] under the proviso that no matter what happens, no matter the appearance of the resultant effect [Hereafter: THE HAIRCUT], THE HAIRDRESSEE is not allowed to get angry at THE HAIRDRESSER. This anger may take the following forms:

a. Shouting.
b. Passive aggressive ‘harrumphing.’
c. Threats that the HAIRDRESSEE will undertake THE HAIRCUT himself, ‘and then you’ll be sorry.’

2. THE HAIRDRESSER will have the following tools at her disposal:
a. Item: a pair of electronic clippers, with various guards.
b. Item: an extension cord and cable reel to supply power.
c. Item: a pair of hairdressing scissors, with black plastic handle.
d. Item: a comb, HAIRDRESSER’S own – could do with cleaning.

3. THE HAIRCUT will take place in the bathroom, with the HAIDRESSEE sat in front of the mirror on a small wooden stool. THE HAIRDRESSER will stand.

Within twenty minutes, 1.b. has been breached on account of my ‘pussyfooting.’

HIM: I don’t care what it looks like. I just want it done properly.

I am a naturally careful person.

[See: buying cigarettes at 18 and keeping them in a shoebox, too guilty to smoke them; being the sort of person who always has a packet of tissues on her person; being the sort of person who salutes solitary magpies; being the sort of person who proof reads emails thirty times before sending them etc.]

HIM: You’re not even touching my head. You’ve got to go in for it.

To my eyes, there is already quite a lot of hair on the floor. As someone who has had more haircuts than most, I’ve noticed that everyone’s got a lot more hair than they think they do. You may sit with a menagerie of exploded Cousin Its around your feet, and still have enough to keep your head warm. Where does it all come from? Bolstered by this realisation, I get braver, taking in the sides and back.

HIM: Now what will you do about the top?

ME: I don’t trust myself.

[My dad has always had an incredible amount of confidence in me.]


HIM: Just use the scissors. You section a bit off a bit at a time. Start at the top.

He says this like it’s a really straightforward thing, not a technique that people do courses in.

ME: There.

HIM: Are you serious?

This is the longest I’ve spent staring at the top of my father’s head, and I’m suddenly a bit embarrassed. [Embarrassed in Hope to Avoid: making his hair thinner than it already is / drawing attention to recently noticed bald spot.] And I’m embarrassed for being embarrassed because he might not care, and if he doesn’t, why should I? [It’s not all about you.]

Mostly ageing happens quietly and in the background [like having the telly on in another room], and you’ll be doing something else and [surprise!] notice a change.

Notice Things like: the backs of your hands; the corners of your mouth; the things you say; the people you say them to.

And if I’m ageing, it’s likely my parents are ageing too [that’s how time works, stupid]. And if we’re all ageing, then certain things will be not be like how they used to be.

Certain Things like: Hair; Sleep; Colours.

And I run my fingers through.

And it’s everywhere.

And I’m gon’ love you, till the wheels come off.

And I pay attention to the freckles on his neck.

And do an okay job.

And all this is normal/unsentimental/boring but

Better than expected.