The Haircut

My grandson’s curls are running over his ears and away from the barber’s scissors.  My mind quickly shifts to a few years back.  I can see my college age son looking with understanding as I struggle to keep back the tears.  I was watching his hair fall off his head and onto the floor.  His features were subtly changing even as I knew he would be changed. He was getting a new short hair cut to last the many months he would be spending in India where the temperatures soar.  Could he sense that I knew how hard this would be for him and how terribly I would miss him and how proud I was of him?
 
I silently thanked God that I did not have to watch the heads of my sons being shaved before they went off to war and I thought of all the mothers, wives and girlfriends that did.  When my husband was 19 and headed for Viet Nam, did he have anyone there who mourned the loss of his fine gold hair?
 
I have collected and stored the times I have watched my husband get his hair cut, looking so regal sitting up there on that throne in his robe with the Velcro collar. His barber tends to his grooming as he communicates a secret message to my soul when he catches me looking at him. I reflect on my good fortune to have captured the heart of such a man and he looks to see my reaction to his cut.  I nod in approval.
 
 My dad never called it getting a hair cut but getting your ears lowered and when you get older, getting your ears lowered also means getting the wire-like hairs in your ears trimmed as well.  Sometimes, a shave or an eyebrow trim is also part of the ritual and I can watch all this as an observer sipping on a small coke (in the bottle) that comes from an ancient machine, a familiar and friendly fixture in Tommy’s barber shop.  All is handsome and masculine, masculine and handsome; even the newspapers, sports magazines, conversations and TV programs.  I wonder if the phantom of the barbershop finds the few wives and/or moms an intrusion.
 
My oldest son, now married, always hated going to the barbershop. His coaches would say that his hair was too long and not to come back to practice until he got it cut. So, he would reluctantly have it trimmed.   I remember the time that he and his friend died their dark curls, “blonde”. They both came down the stairs grinning and looking quite ridiculous with the Clairol shade 107 box in the bathroom trashcan and their hair an unnatural shade of red.  The kids at school affirmed the new look, loved it in fact, because their friends loved them.  But, Stephen’s mother was not amused and had him shave off the Ronald McDonald coif.
                                                                                           
I remember a boy in my junior high school who defied a strict hair code policy by growing his gorgeous blonde hair to the top of his shoulders.  He was told he could not return to school unless he cut his hair.  He did not return to school.  I missed that boy. Then there were the two boys in high school that I went out with a few times.  One wore his hair in a pony tail, the other in a “fro.”  My dad hated them both.  I liked them both.
 
Watching the scissors snip and sculpt, I hear the tick and toc and see my sons as young boys, beautiful and free, wide-eyed and enchanting.  Even when they were toddlers I would tear up every time that I took them to the barbershop.  I sensed from the beginning that a barber shop is a place of sacred memories.  I flash back to their first haircut when they cried big crocodile tears and had to sit up on a special booster seat within the big chair.  They came out looking like little rascals’ characters, all slick and combed back. They were rewarded with  lollipops which took some time to select and then  moved quickly on as bigger boys to buzzes and crew cuts, straight hair and curly and I remember all the times that haircuts were mandatory for special days like proms and weddings and Big Daddy’s funeral.
 
I hear the sound of a silver bar that gets stepped on to pump the chair up and up and then a hiss when the chair moves back down. The flap of the cape snaps the present into focus as the barber removes it from the freshly pinked neck. I see the spray mister bottle and the soft fluffy oversized make-up brush that can release the smell of my talc-sweetened
Grandfather and I am transported, momentarily into Papaw’s lap, breathing him in.
 
The lives of all the men I adore rotate as the barber ceremoniously spins the chair around to show my grandson his new look, both front and back.  He grins his tooth-less smile as I shallow hard and bite the corner of my cheek.
 
 

Eggs, blogs, and Jesus

After living vicariously through my children for many years, I suddenly found a huge space-void  which was previously occupied with violin lessons, doctors visits, school functions, baseball games, term papers and late night breath-checks.  Discovering that my husband was not about to re-locate to a tropical island to drink  pina coladas and hold my hand, I was forced to face the looming question, what’s next?  Or put another way, is that all there is?

Enter, the egg.  I enrolled in my first-ever art class.  The instructor put an egg on a table in front of us and shone a light directly on it.  We were told to take our wide stick vine charcoal and blacken a large space on our newsprint.  Then we were to look very closely at the egg.  Next, we took a chamois and eraser to remove the blackness wherever we saw the light reflecting on the egg.  You could then go in and heavily blacken the darker areas or highlight with white chalk if you felt so inclined.  I was truly astonished when that son of a gun popped off the page and took on depth and form.

 We were encouraged to keep a journal which I promptly purchased. I practiced my egg-art and wrote in my journal all week long.  Here is one of my entries:

  1. To get what I want, I have to give up control
  2. What I’m after isn’t quite what I get
  3. I have never really seen an egg before
  4. Some of my eggs look like hamburgers

And then I got a little crazy and wrote:  First there is darkness.  And then there is light.  And light ushers in creation.  And light gives definition.  And light brings life.  And the darkness cannot put out what the light is doing.

*****************************

Similar to the way my vision was altered when Jesus first made his presence known to me and I saw life in vivid spirit-color;  this egg enabled me to look for orbs and light and shadow in faces, trees, dishes, everything.

At the next class, we were asked to share our journals, and I enthusiastically volunteered to go first.  After reading my observations to the class,  a bit of  awkwardness entered the room.  The instructor gently explained to me that by journal, he really meant a book of sketches.

Oh, then, nevermind.

The good news is, that I have continued to sketch and draw and paint.  In one of those early classes, my teacher called what we were doing  mark-making.  He explained how everyone has their unique mark and I knew it would be a terrible waste not to discover mine.  I have not reached the level of confidence to call myself an artist  but I am totally at ease with the distinction of mark-maker.

Walking tandem with my mark-making is my voice-finding quest.  And though I have an arsenal of writings in notebooks and on my computer, I cower at the idea of being called a writer.   I like the term, blogger; much less threatening and connoting lower expectations.  And now this Jesus loving, grandchild hugging, mark-making, blogger is feeling quite satisfied.

Mamaw’s tater salad

Did I forget to mention potato salad?  There was always potato salad on Mamaw’s table. That perfect combination of creamy, crunchy, tangy, salty, starchy and  yummy, makes it impossible  for anybody else to hold up a candlestick.  Now, I have made Mamaw’s tater salad and so has my mom, my sister, my cousins, and my daughter and we all fall short of the glory of Mamaw’s.  But still we try.

Mamaw firmly believed that potato salad is yellow (from the mustard) and not that anemic white color of the imposters.  Another clue to her culinary authenticity is the thin sliced hard-boiled egg carefully placed across the top and sprinkled with the ever so subtle yet never to be omitted, paprika. Miraculously, every slice of celery has to be the same size and with-out strings.  The pickles have to be sweet gherkins, also cut to  perfectly resemble one another (forget the ones that come already chopped ).  The mayonnaise has to be Hellmann’s, the onions grated, and the mustard French’s.  And finally, everyone knows that potato salad tastes better the next day and has to be doctored up with a dollop of fresh dressing due to the drying out that occurs in the fridge overnight.  Here is Mamaw’s recipe :

 

Boil up some whole potatoes (skin on):  Poke and see if they are done

Peel skin off while warm.  Cut in cubes and salt and pepper (while still warm).

Chop up celery, and pickles

Grate in some onion

Fix sauce:  Mayo, a little mustard, some sugar (to cut the mustard) and milk to thin

 Stir it up real good and taste to see if you need more sugar or mustard

Pour sauce on potatoes.  Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper

After chilled, put sliced egg on top

Sprinkle with paprika

Where are the proportions, you may ask?  Sadly, I must say, here in lies the question, the problem, the challenge, the opportunity and the mystery that ensures Mamaw’s supremacy.  Lots of luck!

***********************************************************************