Three months without a haircut was too long. Although I am balding (okay, almost bald), my head was beginning to resemble a ridged dome on a high plains prairie covered by little bluestem native grass: tufts and clumps jutting up raggedly in various stages of growth.
The advantage of this look is that it clearly identifies me as a Crazy Old Coot and warns strangers at public campgrounds not to approach me and annoy me with banal conversation. The disadvantage is that I have to show two forms of identification to convenience store clerks who assume I am a homeless derelict that has stolen a couple credit cards.
For at least a month before we began our Southwest Desert Trek on February 1, I had neglected to cut my hair, a fast and simple task since that long-ago day I discovered that running a Wahl pet clipper across my scalp saved me $15 or $20 for each trip to the barbershop. With a half-inch spacer attached to the dog clipper the result is a hairstyle like moss growing on a shiny-topped chunk of misshapen granite. Complemented by a shaggy white beard, I like to think of this as my signature look.
Hemingway had his, I have mine. But at a certain point, one’s signature becomes illegible.
So it was that my Beautiful Blonde Wife tactfully suggested that she should give me a haircut after six weeks on the road. Not that she was embarrassed to be seen with me, she insisted, but neither did she want people to think that she had been abducted by an escapee from a mental institution.
She asked if I had packed the dog clipper. Unfortunately, I had not. But in my shaving kit was an old Norelco electric razor with a beard trimmer. Maybe that would serve. She was willing to give it a try.
As I felt the trimmer sawing across my scalp I suggested that she work from the top of my head down, rather than from my neck up, so that the cut would be tapered in a style that was suitably suave and chic. “Oh!” she said. “I’m just cutting it all off the way you usually do.”
But without the dog clipper’s spacer attachment.
The haircut took longer than expected, but the result was good. Or at least not too bad. Glancing into a mirror I realized I resembled the German aircraft mechanic that had a fistfight with Indiana Jones in “The Lost Ark.” A good look for me.
She offered to trim my beard, too, but I opted to do that myself. The clean-shaven gleam of my exposed head was not an issue, but it is best if I hide as much of my face as possible beneath a beard. After a hot shower at the campground I returned to our Scamp camping trailer feeling quite dapper and debonaire. Smug and self-satisfied, I drank a beer and smoked a cigar
My BBW did not want me to put on airs, I guess. She looked me over and suggested, “Maybe you better keep your hat on for a few weeks.”
Just to avoid sunburn, you understand.