They stared me down with an intense look. Not one of the intense looks that are meant to scare us. No, we were made of the same stuff; there were no scare tactics here. It was simply an intense look of concentration and an attempt to give a sober haircut after a couple of beers. The scissors snipped over my ears and little fluffs of recently dyed hair fell around my feet, the color matching the fur of the taxidermied animals around the room. They turned my head so I could see the sides of my hair in the mirror. “Is that short enough on the sideburns?”
“Yeah it’s good, keep it a little longer in front and don’t forget to shave up the back.”
“Alright, I know what I’m gonna do.”
I grinned. Biting my lip a little I considered the perfect moment that was happening around me. My friends and I have a habit of collecting perfect moments and this was one to remember. I can see the shot perfectly in my head; it’s a side effect of being an art kid with a video obsession. The black tuft of their Mohawk highlighted their forehead. Their eyebrows were down in focused concentration eyes sliding sideways back and forth checking the lengths of my own tuft above my forehead, which was becoming more and more visible. Below their intense eyes a nose ring twinkled silver as they bit their lip still determined to be sober. Curled around the back of their neck was the rat tail in which they held all of their magic, or so they said; and so I believed. Below, the muscles of the arms stretched toward my head out of the cut off sleeves of their yellow t-shirt. Arm hair poked out of the sleeve holes and that was the final part of the perfect picture.
Somewhere in the other room RuPaul played softly, the party rumbled on around us, and in the bathroom down the hall an incredible compatriot was passing on all their wisdom in a haircut. Just as Jess Goldstein’s friends cut their hair in Stone Butch Blues and just as Brandon Teena’s friend cut his hair in the beginning of Boy’s Don’t Cry. A haircut is a gift. It’s a passing on of knowledge that says, “Survive the bad times and have a Hell of a good time during the good times.” It says, “Don’t worry about what other people say because you have all of us.” It says, “If anything bad happens just call me and I’ll drive to Cincinnati within fifteen hours no matter where I am in the country.”
“There you’re done. How’s that?” They answer their own question, “Looks good. Looks older.”
My friends who were watching agree. I just grin, “It’s great.” I say. And in my mind I am happy with how perfect this moment is, and how it’s the last night I’ll spend in this house, and how much I will appreciate everything they have done. I walked out into the kitchen and Knox smiled and said, “Hey did Fran just cut your hair? Ace cuts mine.”
I grinned. I was right, a haircut is a gift. The best. Thank you.