Getting a Haircut for Cancer

There was a time when I had long hair, really long hair. I just decided one day to forego the haircut appointment and then another one and another. My hair grows fast, it always has. So, I was getting real progress in a few short months. I learned things too. I learned that it isn’t easy to sleep with long hair. You have to get creative and get it out of your way. I’m pretty sure there doesn’t exist any pictures of me wearing my pile of brown hair tied up at the top of my head, but that was the only way I could sleep at night. Oh, and tangles? One word, Ouch! By the way, if there is a picture then I am willing to pay a king’s ransom to keep it out of public.

Needless to say I soon tired of the whole ordeal and decided to cut it off. That’s when I learned about “Locks of Love”, a wonderful organization founded in 1997 that accepts hair donations on behalf of children with cancer. What a great cause! I looked at myself squarely in the mirror. I can do this too. But I will need to grow more hair. So I did.

By the time my hair reached my waist belt, another Christmas had come and gone. I was fully used to living with long hair. I had heard this phrase my whole life, but now I was empathetic to it. Yes, I had “Good Hair Days” and “Bad Hair Days”. Keep your comments to yourself, please.

The time had come and I was ready to chop it off and mail it away, The oversized envelope and mailing instructions were ready in the waiting. Only thing left to do was to get the haircut. I didn’t feel like marching into a men’s barbershop and risking snarly-looks and under-breath comments, all of which I’m quite certain were left to my imagination. But nope. Not doing it.

So, I turned to my wife and asked for some hair-salon advice for my mop. I had been to a few boutiques over the years. I’m more comfortable in a barbershop, but this occasion, I felt like I needed a salon. She had started going to a new one on the north side of McHenry where we lived at the time. Ok, I’ll give it a try. “Can you make an appointment for me?” I asked and she agreed she could help.

I found myself driving to my haircut appointment the following week with my envelope and two sets of hair tie bands to secure my ponytail that was about to move on to more honorable trails in life. It was a nice sunny Wednesday afternoon and I had the stereo playing music when I arrived at the salon. I was supposed to meet a lady named, Diane. As I approached the boutique, there was a tall, young woman sitting on the front steps. She was smoking. No one else was around. As I parked in a diagonal spot across the street from her I turned and caught her eyes. She abruptly threw her cigarette down and stepped it out with her right shoe. She then turned and hustled into the establishment, leaving the door closed behind her. Odd, I thought. I shut my door and locked the car. Beep-beep. I crossed the street free of traffic and preceded to the front door of the salon. I opened the door wide and entered.

The shop was comprised of one large room for hair & nails work and an adjoining kitchenette and a restroom area. The house was full, all appointments accounted for. Moments earlier when reaching for the doorknob I heard copious amounts of talking, but now, just the proverbial pin dropping. I had the attention of every woman in the room, some in hairdryers, some getting nail work, some getting hair styled. All chairs had beauticians, except for one, the only empty chair in the room. Someone was hiding behind it, the smoking woman. She slowly rose with what looked like to me an embarrassed expression on her face. With my long hair squaring off my face and shoulders, I began, “I’m looking for Diane” Nothing. No one stirred. Then the smoking girl finally said, “I’m her. I’m Diane” “I have an appointment. I want a haircut” I said. She stood up fully and turned her chair around to face me. “You can have a seat. Sit here” She returned. “Are you Mike?”, “Yes I am. I want to cut off all of this hair” I said reaching deep in to my mop and showing the length of it. There was a collective Gasp in the room and then the silence broke and conversations were restarted, with most of them shifting to me as the new topic.

As I sat down in the chair, two women approached me. “Darling, why would you cut off all that hair?” they asked. The pin drop was back and the room fell silent waiting for my response. “I want to cut it off and donate it to a kid with cancer” “AWWWwww!” rang out. The conversations returned with additional vigor. Diane finally made eye contact with me in the mirror she spun me around to face. She placed a protective apron over me and reached for her tools. “Is that right? You want me to cut this all off?” she queried. “Yes, I do and here are these hair band thingies you can use to keep it in a ponytail with” I returned.

At this moment another lady approached me. This one I knew. She was a cleaning woman we had once used at our house. She had recognized me and decided to stop by to say hi. “Sure is beautiful hair. That’s an awful nice thing you are doing though. Tell Carrie (my wife) I said hi” she said and returned to her table where she was getting a manicure. “Thank you, I will” I turned back to the mirror to see PIPPI-LONGSTOCKING staring back at me. Diane had banded my locks on both sides of my head. I was expecting one ponytail with a band on top and bottom. I looked very silly, but what the heck, I’m already in the chair and it won’t be my hair much longer anyway. Do it however you wish.

Quiet awkwardness, soon turned to cordial conversation, and then into lighthearted tête-à-tête. I learned much about Diane and she, I. I had already decided I would come back to her for future haircuts on a more regular schedule now. My long hair days would soon be behind me.

“Snap!, Snap!” her scissors closed in two massive clips and the deed was done. I was a new man and someone was getting my hair. She handed me the two tails and I slipped them into the oversized envelope. She proceeded to give a nice man’s short haircut. On to the blow dryer and some weird smelling product and before I knew it she was done. I stood up as someone was approaching with a broom. Again, the pin-drop experience returned. And then the room exploded with congratulations and acclamations. I had no idea how popular I could be in a ladies salon, but here I was. I smiled back at them and then those familiar conversations returned once again to analyze my transformation. I paid Diane and promised I would return. I turned and caught myself in the mirror. I thought, “that’s better” and felt good. I walked out with more compliments and closed the door behind me feeling like I’ve done something good. That felt good too.

Locks of Love is a great organization. Pass on the word to anyone looking for a major hair change!

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