My youngest son, son #5, is leaving for college in two days. He has to arrive on campus earlier than most of the students, because he has a few days of Army ROTC orientation before the rest of the freshmen arrive for the standard freshman orientation.
Last night, my baby asked me to give him a pre-Army orientation haircut. My husband and I have been cutting our boys' hair since they were kneehigh to a grasshopper. Most of them wore crew cuts when they were little sprouts, and that was easy enough to do right here at home with electric clippers--it seemed silly to pay a barber to do what we could do just as easily ourselves, for free. As they got older, some of them wanted to wear their hair a bit longer, and we learned to use the different settings and blend different lengths. My husband is better at it than I am, but even I have become a somewhat skilled barber (emphasis on the "somewhat").
At first, my baby thought he might like to get a traditional Army "high and tight," which would have been a fine choice. If he showed up with that, the ROTC folks would have no doubt that he was planning to be a serious cadet. But after some thought, he decided he wanted to pretty much shave every hair off his head instead, and he instructed me to use the bare clippers without any attachments. And this is the son who sported 70's-style longish hair--surfer dude hair--throughout most of high school! "Are you sure you don't want me to at least put the #2 thingy on there, or even just the #1? Your hair would still be plenty short," I said. No, he told me; he wanted me to take it all off. "I've always wondered what I'd look like if I was bald," he explained. Haven't we all, though? It's as good a reason as any to shave all of your hair off, I suppose. And as he reminded me, "Hair grows back."
I've never liked giving this haircut. My #2 son used to wear his hair like this in high school (it was his football "intimidation" haircut), and I always had trouble pressing the clippers firmly against his head and watching scalp appear. And I had trouble again last night. But when I was done, I thought the no-hair thing looked pretty good on my youngest son after all. In fact, I think if my boy does end up losing his hair down the road, he will make a very handsome bald man. Sporting this hairdo would be infinitely better than having a bad comb-over.
Well, at least I know that when my son goes through his first Army inspection, there's no way he's going to hear, "Pearl! Your hair's too long!"