The other day I got a haircut at a barbershop in Hinesville, where I also pretend to work.
“Give me a high and tight,” I said, having some sort of mid-life flash back to my Army days when I wore such things as high and tights and hung around with my hand in my pockets, hiding from anybody who outranked me.
“Of course, I don’t have as much to keep tight up there anymore, but have a whack at it anyway,” I said to the barber. I like to be humble.
The barber grinned, either at my attempt at humor or at the deforestation that has left me without nearly all my once golden and curly locks. Developers in South Bryan fond of mowing down anything that doesn’t move have nothing on the genetic mole crickets that have gotten hold of my hair and made it go away.
Sorry, that’s a digression. I will get on with this story now. The barber spun the chair, snatched up a set of clippers and had a whack at it.
About 15 minutes later, it was done.
I felt sort of like a new used car as I paid up and left and went back to work.
There’s nothing like a good haircut to make you ready to conquer the world. And, if nothing else, at least your hats fit. But then I got home.
“It makes your head look pointy on both ends,” said my wonderful wife, who for the millionth time over our long history shook her head and said something to the effect she wondered why she ever turns me loose to go outside on my own.
“Really,” I said. “You mean like a kayak?”
She was referring to the reverse mirror effect the high and tight had in relation to my beard, which does not suffer from mole crickets and instead tends to spread like dollar weed and Facebook rumors on certain yard sale sites if I don’t keep it sufficiently under control.
“Now you’re pointy on top and on bottom,” said my wife. “And that beard still makes your face look fat.”
I looked in the mirror for the first time all day and thought if you look at it like that, she’s right.
I have a fat pointy bearded face and now I’ve got a fat pointy head. I look like somebody’s idea of a sharpened Oompa Loompa.
But hey, it happens in this business. I think it’s caused by having to deal with people who think they are smarter than us because they are smarter than us. Most of us editors are probably about four inches shorter than we were when we started. I’ve seen it happen to some women in the real news business, too.
They don’t get shorter, though.
One minute, they’re fresh-faced young reporters out to save the world. The next, middle age and a million deadlines take a toll. They start smoking, vaping and cussing. They also start to resemble German sausages in pants suits.
This is what happens in print journalism, mind you. TV journalism is by people who can’t write for people who can’t or don’t read, and I have no idea what happens there. Botox, probably.
I do have experience with folks shorter than me, though not much shorter, because I am now 5-foot-5. We used to call them midgets, and the great Randy Newman had a hit with the song “Short People,” which included the lyrics “They got little hands, and little eyes, and they walk around telling great big lies,” but I’m not sure that is politically correct anymore.
I do know that once, during a portion of my wayward 20s on the South Carolina Grand Strand, I went into a bar in Surfside Beach in the middle of winter and the only other person in there beside the bartender was a midget standing on a bar stool.
He was nursing a beer and wearing a top hat.
I bellied up to the bar, ordered a beer and looked at the bartender, who kind of gave me a look, and then at the midget, who was glowering at nothing in particular.
“How come you are wearing that top hat,” I asked. The bartender looked at the ceiling. The midget sighed, stepped up onto the bar, walked down and kicked my beer in my lap, then walked back down to his stool and stepped off the bar onto it.
I looked at the bartender.
“I tried to warn you, he’s touchy about that hat. That’s the third time he’s done that tonight,” the bartender said.
And once, in a club, I made a trip to the mens room and went into a stall. While in there, the door opened and someone stomped in.
There were the usual noises one hears in a mens’ room. Then, suddenly, a grunt, a thwacking sound and this deep voice saying “Agghh I’m ugly.”
It happened again.
Grunt. Thwack. “Aggghh I’m ugly.”
This was before cell phones and 911, and there was no way I was leaving that stall without knowing what I might face outside of it. I also couldn’t stay in there all night, so I took a peek through a crack in the stall door.
There weaved a midget in what I still think was a Hells Angels vest. He had a comb in his hand.
He grunted as he jumped up to look at himself in the mirror and tried to comb his hair, his arms waving. Then he landed, his boots making a thwacking on the tile floor.
“Argh I’m ugly,” he said, and then grunted and did it again.
I stayed put until he left.
Whitten is managing editor of two newspapers. It keeps him hopping.