Commentary: The pandemic might be the best time for a bad haircut

Shampoo stations at the Morrison Hair Salon in Laguna Beach. The columnist writes about a recent haircut experience at home.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

In recent months, COVID-19 has killed 8,000-plus Californians.

That’s a tragedy that six months ago would have seemed beyond all comprehension and logic, yet we’re anesthetized to it today. I don’t make light of the disease, but I personally attempt to keep it in perspective. Not obsessing is important.

I was recently encouraged by my brother, Bill, to get a coronavirus crewcut.

Like so many of us, Bill is quarantining at home this summer. His hair — like mine — has gone unsupervised for months. Get the picture? But his son, Eric — neither a professional coiffeur nor resident of Seville — graciously pulled out his amateur home clipper and proceeded to square Bill away.

“Wow, Bill, you look great,” I rhapsodized a few days later after viewing a photo he sent me. Brother Bill was a gifted high school athlete who looked great in a buzz and who looks grand today as a buzzed senior.

I, on the other hand, never looked good in a butch haircut as a kid. That’s why I’ve not permitted myself, as an adult, to be seen in public places sans tresses.

I recently had to relearn something taught me by my mom when I was a mere stripling: “Don’t automatically do what others tell you to do; rely upon your own good common sense.”

Last week — following Eric’s offer — Bill decided it was time for what we Carnetts used to call our annual “summer buzz.” I never added a springtime buzz to the equation because I refused to expose my cueball head to girls sitting behind me in class.

Some guys in junior high and high school pulled off with panache that Mickey Mantle flattop All-American-boy look. Not me. Besides, I looked more like Mickey Spillane.

So, the other day, having forgotten history and now doomed to repeat it, I watched Hedy tear into an Amazon box that arrived at our doorstep. It was a $50 home hair clipper. That should have triggered within me a remembrance of Mom’s “common sense” adage.

Hedy appeared confident that with the new appliance she could transform my hair from mishmash to marvelous. Miss Hedy clawed determinedly at the cardboard packaging and began pulling out attachments. Neither of us knew their purpose.

What we did know was that we weren’t going to waste time trying to decipher the enclosed “directions” flier. One can’t be expected to make sense of directions written in hieroglyphics.

Hedy soon began thrashing away with her clippers on this venerable old head. She powered forth with the aplomb of a professional jack hammerer.

My wife employed impressive sweeping motions while human hair fell in clumps from each arc. Those clumps accumulated into heaps on my shoulders, lap and on the floor.

“How much do you want me to take off?” she shouted over the clamber.

“Uh, most … I guess.”

I began to have second thoughts. Buyer’s remorse. And I was hyperventilating. “Wait, what are we doing? Should we rethink this?” Too late, we were past the point of no return

Hedy kept “sweeping,” and, at last, stepped in front of me to evaluate her work. I knew I was in trouble when she emitted a nervous laugh. I looked in the mirror ... and let out a primal scream.


I now possess a hideous pandemic buzz! My only rational observation at the time was: “THIS … CANNOT … BE!” It’s worse than any summer butch I ever received as a kid. I’m living a seventh-grader’s nightmare!


It’s my fault. I have no one to blame but myself. I wanted things trimmed. My hair was too long, unruly, greasy and itchy (can hair actually itch?), and I wanted it gone. Well, it’s gone ... all of it. Maybe forever.

Hedy collected silver shocks of hair left on my shoulders and lap, and on the floor, and gently placed them into a hermetically sealed baggy. Why? Grandmas do such things. She throws out soiled Band-Aids but preserves grandpa hair.

Hedy and I had a good laugh over it and, since I don’t believe I’ll be meeting a duchess, cardinal or NBA referee anytime soon, what does it matter how I look?

As retirees, Hedy and I are finding sheltering in place tolerable.

But I’ve hidden the clippers.

The writer is former columnist for the Daily Pilot.

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