I watched exactly one YouTube video about how to cut your husband’s hair before I started hacking and buzzing away on William’s head a few weeks ago.
It was a video by Tips for Clips titled, “My wife cut my hair!” It promised I, too, could accomplish the buzz, trim and “fade” and learn all of these techniques in just six small minutes.
So, I watched the video, which featured a very handsome Latin man with, by all measures, an incredible head of hair. His wife stood behind him with electric clippers and he walked her (and us) through the procedure, explaining what numbers to use on the clippers and when; how to avoid cutting an ear; and how to make everything blend together.
By the end of the video, he looked Ricky Martin fantastic.
“OK, are you ready?” William asked me, coming into the dining room with a towel around his neck.
Please let the record show that my answer was, “I mean, I’ve only watched one video.”
“Well, does it seem complicated?”
I had to admit Ricky had made it look ridiculously easy.
“Let’s go for it,” I said.
We went into the bathroom and William sat on a chair. I started humming the song “She Bangs.”
He handed me some clippers that, let the record show, looked nothing like the ones Ricky had used.
“I’m supposed to start with number four,” I said.
“There is no number four. There’s one, two, and three. One cuts to the skin, three is longest.”
“When I go to the salon, they give me a number three.”
“They only use one number?”
“Well, it’s called a number three.”
“OK. Let’s start with three.”
It was at this point that I think we both started to feel uneasy. And William and I, as much as we would like to have one, don’t have the kind of marriage that flourishes under pressure.
But I started cutting, imitating the kind of swooping motion that Ricky’s wife seemed to have made with the clippers. Hair began falling on the towel and, for a split second, I thought things were going according to the Tips for Clips video. I imagined William emerging from this experience looking like he was Livin’ La Vida Loca and bragging to his friends about how great his great wife was at cutting his hair.
But then it started not going that way.
More hair kept coming off his head. But nothing seemed to be coming off that evenly. Let the record show that I didn’t, at any point, shave down to scalp, but the record should also show that things seemed to be getting patchy, no matter how much I swooped like Ricky’s wife had.
“You’re not saying anything,” William said. “Is everything going OK?”
“I mean, it’s getting shorter,” I said.
“That’s not a lot of information.”
“I don’t know what else to tell you.”
William went quiet after that and, for the next seven minutes, there was just the buzz of the clippers and two dogs sitting on the threshold of the bathroom, the tension in the room keeping them back like an invisible fence.
I knew no good could come of this and, the more time passed, the more I both second-guessed my skills and grew resentful that I was expected to have them. In the meantime, William also knew no good would come of this and was probably wondering why in the heck his wife had agreed to cut his hair. Or hadn’t watched more videos.
To be honest, I’m not sure what he was thinking.
But the air, my friends, the air was thick.
I started swooping my hand through his hair, hoping that it would somehow help the clippers catch the strands in a more even way.
Seven more minutes passed, and William finally said, “OK, I haven’t actually heard the clippers cut anything in seven minutes.”
“Hair is still falling on the towel,” I said weakly.
William put on his glasses and looked in the mirror.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“It looks terrible.”
I made the uncomfortable face emoji and he took the clippers.
And then William Baker, I kid you not, bent over and started swooping the clippers through his own hair free-style. And by free-style, I mean: blind.
This was definitely not something Ricky had suggested doing.
But William buzzed and buzzed with that number three until I suggested he stop because he had formed two nearly identical, nearly bald patches on either side of the back of his head.
And so the cut was complete.
I wanted to scream.
He wanted to scream.
Instead, we snipped a few words at each other.
It was one of those afternoons where the members of the married couple spent some alone time. William played video games in the basement, I went to the very tippy top of the house and watched Sex and the City for the millionth time.
But a few days later, we were on a Zoom with some friends and William started telling the story of the haircut. And the way he was telling it was funny. And lighthearted. And I realized his hair, even the shortest bits, really did look rather lovely.