William Lawerence Betz

The Cutting of Hair



Late, well past midnight, my wife and I at the glass kitchen table laughing, drinking red wine, always mindful of our daughters sleeping down the hall. On those nights, she cut my dark hair.  Wetting it down with cool water, running her small hands through it a time or two for good measure, then gingerly snipping with silver sheers she kept in a special box.

For me, that was as intimate as we could get, alone in the kitchen, the rest of the house dark, her undivided attention, her eyes looking slightly above mine but at me, her body close and in my space.  Most times, she took off her shirt and sat playfully on my lap while she cut.  Me, all along, watching her do what she loved and smiling.  We always laughed when the humming buzz of clippers tickled my ear, making me jump.  We took long breathy pauses. Pausing to smoke cigarettes, drink more wine, she holding the glass to my mouth while I held her around her hips, talking about her day at the shop or what bills needed paying.  She was my wife but a mystery to me then as now, as all women are now a mystery to me.  After the divorce, she no longer cut my hair.


I always loved haircuts as a boy, eight or nine.  When we lived in California, momma took me and my curly haired cousins to an old cluttered barbershop ran by an old man.  There was a secret there meant only for young men. The bathroom was why my cousins and I went so happily.  Itís walls, covered with pictures of naked women, big tits, spread legs, reason enough to go for a haircut.  To a boy that age, a femaleís nudity still lies mysteriously in dark back rooms and bathrooms, to be discovered in magazines stuffed in boxes under the beds of single uncles.  One by one, we took our turns in the chair, the air heavy with barb-a-sol then took our turns with the thumb tacked pin-ups lit by a hanging bulb. Momma paid and the old man gave us candy, winking, pushing us out the door towards the street.  I never told my mother or my wife about the bathroom, though on those late, intimate nights drinking wine with her, it always came to mind.



(photo by August)