His name was Mike. He seemed to be alive and well when he walked in, but I’ll never know for sure. He didn’t say a word to me, but he didn’t have to. Sometimes a man says it best when he says nothing at all.
I get my hair cut once a month. My formerly decent combover is now something of a punchline, requiring only the occasional trim and neck shave. Now, I normally don’t pay attention to the other patrons as they enter through the glass door, but something about this man caught my eye. His face was as honest as it was weathered. But he wasn’t alone. No — that day, Mike decided to allow his wife to accompany him on this seemingly minor errand. Maybe he didn’t have a choice. I’ll never know, because Mike fucking died yesterday.
I heard the stylist confidently shout, “Mike!” as I sat there in silence while Ashley sprayed cold water on my scalp. I didn’t catch her name, but Mike’s stylist sat him directly next to me and asked how his day was going. Mike didn’t even respond. That type of awkwardness always piques my interest, so I glanced in the mirror to see what was happening. That’s when I noticed Mike’s wife standing directly behind him. Her arms were crossed and her hair was short. Shorter in the back yet longer in the front, if I remember correctly. I can only assume this was Mike’s wife, as she wore a rather gaudy ring on her left hand and hovered over him like a vulture with bad highlights. Yes, Mike’s wife supervised his haircut.
I didn’t realize what was happening. I thought maybe she’d stand there for a moment or two and then walk away. She didn’t. She actually did the opposite of that. She quarterbacked Mike’s entire haircut while he just sat there, dead-eyed and nutsackless. When Mike’s stylist asked what he wanted cut, Mike delicately uttered, “Just a trim.” “Not too much off the top, though,” Mike’s wife brutishly interjected. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. She chimed in at every opportunity, arms folded, pacing back and forth like an overbearing junior college basketball coach chirping at the ref and just asking to get teed up. “Not too high above the ears,” she demanded. The beating continued. Even the playful banter that one comes to expect when spending $18 on a haircut was nonexistent.
This man, a shell of himself I presume, had no say in his own damn haircut. Had he received one too many terrible haircuts? How could she not trust her husband with something as simple as this? Maybe Mike had an affair with his previous stylist and part of his punishment, in addition to never hearing the fucking end of it, was to be dragged around town by this beast of a wife by the balls. I like to think that’s the case, but to be honest, I just don’t know.
Then it happened. At one point, just after Ashley cleaned up my sideburns, I made eye contact with Mike. That’s when I knew Mike was dead inside. He may have been gone before he even sat down in that chair, but I’ll never know. All I know is that Mike is gone. When our eyes met, he made no effort to look away. Neither did I, and I don’t know why. I thought about saying something, putting an end to this charade, but it was too late. All the years of what I imagine was nonstop nut-kicking finally caught up with him. Sure, Mike got up and walked out of that highly average chain haircut salon. He probably went home and ate a less than satisfying dinner and went to bed. But Mike didn’t dream last night. Dead men don’t dream..
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