It has been a rough few months. Not for me personally but in general. Between the holidays, the election, the events of January 6th and the pandemic, it has been difficult to find things to write about here.
My father had given me two pieces of life advice that have served me well, one was “Whenever you can approach life like you are at a cocktail party.” I am fairly sure he wasn’t encouraging me to go through life three scotches deep at all times and I will leave it to you to draw the deeper meaning in his advice. The other bit of advice was “whenever you are at a cocktail party (or any other social engagement) never discuss religion or politics.” Well for the last three months I have found it hard to write here and follow that advice. There are plenty of other people who make a lot of money doing just that. God love ‘em they can have at it.
My story starts with an extra Chromosome and a haircut. I have two boys Henry who is eleven and Alder who is 9. I could write volumes about both and what joy they bring my wife (technically my long-suffering wife, but more on that later) and me. Both of my sons, unlike their father, have a penchant for long hair. Henry because that kid rocks it. He looks great with long hair. Even worse he knows it. He wants to hear no talk of a buzz cut like I have had since I was 18.
Alder, who as I have said is 9, was born with an extra Chromosome, i.e. he has Down Syndrome. He is very smart and has wicked sense of humor. Plus, he is one of the world’s great Con men. He does not speak as efficiently as other kids his age, but he is an excellent communicator. He is also a very sweet, loving boy…who hates having his hair cut.
“Hate” is actually an understatement. He acts as though we are acting like Jack Bauer trying to find out where the Dirty Bomb is hidden in L.A. and he is the only one who knows. He screams, cries, wails, wails “Nooooo”, whips his head, violently from side to side, kicks and hits. We have tried my local barbershop who bravely keep telling me to bring him back. Nope, I can’t afford to tip them what they deserve for that type of struggle. We have tried one of the chain haircutting places, same story. We have defaulted to cutting his hair at home. We have tried all of these obvious and not obvious ways to prepare him or calm him, all to no avail.
There are certain advantages to the home haircut in this case such as not having all the other patrons look at us like we are monsters or scaring the other customers away with his screaming and crying. More importantly he can be whisked right from the chair to the bathtub. While my wife starts the process of calming and bathing, I clean the hair from the floor kitchen floor. There is usually a moment where I stand surveying the hair on the floor like a general who has been through a particularly horrific battle surveying the battlefield where he has lost many of his men. Giving my youngest a haircut, is in short, a traumatic experience.
My wife (yes, she of the long suffering) has become a bit of a self-taught expert on hair clippers. We started with a cheap set from Amazon, you know the kind, black plastic handle, made in China, picture of a handsome dude on the box who clearly got his hair cut at a barber shop and not with the contents of the box. I want to say we had two of those and one was lost or destroyed. My youngest could have taught the French Resistance a thing or two about sabotage. Then we ended up with a set of “quiet” clippers that are cordless and recharge with a USB recharger. It is still odd to see the clippers plugged into my wife’s laptop.
After this most recent haircut we again conducted an After-Action Review as to what we did right and wrong. Right, his hair, albeit lopsided just about everywhere, was shorter and no longer hanging over his eyes. What we did wrong, just about everything, just like every other time. I can not speak for my long-suffering wife, but I had a large whiskey to help me get through our AAR. During the AAR we noted that our youngest had gotten a lot of hair in his shirt, the protective cape was the first thing he jettisoned in protest during the early stages of haircut trauma. Because the hair got in his shirt his torso was itchy. After the torturous indignity of the haircut itself, this was his chief complaint. We briefly discussed getting a Flowbee, you know one of those clippers that are connected to a vacuum, for future, itchless haircuts.
Seven days ago, I came home from work and found my wife sitting on the couch with her laptop on her lap and her smartphone in her hand. She is lucky enough to work from home and while I can’t tell you exactly what she does, I can tell you that it is heavily dependent upon Excel spreadsheets. One such spreadsheet was taking up the entire screen of her laptop and she was ignoring while she stabbed her index finger at the screen of her phone. She was muttering and I could make out whispered oaths, epithets and swear words. She was frustrated and her near infinite well of patience was dangerously close to running dry.
I asked her what was wrong?
“This ferking, gerrr, stupid, website….” Multiple index finger stabs….”son of a…” stab, stab, stab…”grrrrrrr, stupid jerk face.”
“What website?” I inquired in a soothing tone designed not to further upset her.
“Flowbee….” I have omitted the numerous swear words here so as not to offend anyone, “the were sold out. Then they weren’t but now, NOW THIS DAMN THING KEEPS TIMING OUT!” There might have been more curse words, but I decided that she had the situation well in hand and went to change out of my work clothes. And like any good husband will do I promptly forgot all about the discussion.
The next day at work, my phone buzzed and there was a message from my long-suffering wife. Actually, it was a screen shot of what looked like an invoice on a website. It said Flowbee at the top of it and “Quantity 1” and vaguely recalling her struggles the day before I wanted to show my support. I tapped the Thumbs Up button and said something vaguely supportive like…” good job”. I was well on my way to earning my “Most Adequate Husband” of the year award.
When I got home that afternoon, after I had changed and was drinking a glass of water in the kitchen, she came in. “Did you see?” Now that could be a loaded question but recalling the protracted saga of the “Website that Timed Out a lot” or “How I overcame adversity and got a Flowbee”. I said, “Oh yeah, you got a Flowbee”.
It was at that moment when my wife looked at me like I had said something incredibly stupid, not out of the realm of possibility with me. Then she threw back her head and started to laugh like a maniac. She laughed and laughed. First, she had to lean against the butcher block table in the kitchen while she laughed and laughed. Then she collapsed, sitting on our kitchen floor, laughing, tears, streaming down her face, she said. “I didn’t get a Flowbee…I got…I got three. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA.”
While I listened to her laugh like an escapee from an asylum it occurred to me. It had finally happened, after months and months cooped up. Working from home, trying to help my sons learn via distance learning, after the pandemic and all the fear that brings. After a contentious election and post-election mayhem and stupidity. After all of that, she had finally lost her shit and we are now three Flowbees richer. My wife’s checking account is down $450, but hey it was good to hear her laugh again.
Anyone wanna buy a Flowbee. I know a guy. I can get you a great deal.