It’s National Redhead Day so I went to get my haircut. Because I am a committed redhead.
On the day I was born, the doctor who delivered me happened to be a redhead, too. The first thing the he saw when I exited the birth canal was my hair.
They tell me he high-fived my father—who was also a redhead. My mother says they shouted, “We redheads gotta stick together!”
And when nurses handed me to my mother, she was so overcome with maternal emotion that she touched my hair and her first words were: “Why is my son’s head shaped like a triangle?”
I’m not kidding about this. When I was a newborn, I had a pointy head and bore a striking resemblance to a sharpened No. 2 pencil. Because of this, my mother made me wear a stocking cap for the first three years of my life.
Anyway, I normally get haircuts by Miss Connie, who has been cutting my hair for a long time. She’s a sweet lady, and I know she won’t mind me telling you that she has a wandering eye.
The first time I ever met Miss Connie, I was the only customer in the empty salon. She greeted me at the door. One eye was staring at me, the other was not.
She smiled and said, “Don’t freak out, I know I’m cross-eyed, but I cut good hair. Now, which one of you boys wants to go first?”
“Just kidding,” she said. “I can see fine, Sweetie. In fact, I have double vision, which means I see TWICE as good as you.”
She laughed again until she choked.
I considered throwing myself in front of a moving bus to avoid her scissors, but that woman ended up giving me the best haircut I ever had in my life. I’ve been going back ever since.
Today, Miss Connie was out of town, so I got a haircut by a woman who I’ll call “Millie.”
She is the one who told me that today is National Redhead Day. She is a strawberry blonde—more blonde than red.
“Today’s OUR day,” she said. “Did you know that?”
“Yeah, today’s Redhead Day.”
So, we high-fived.
“We redheads gotta stick together,” I said.
“My kids woke me up this morning,” she went on. “They were like, ‘MOM! It’s Redhead Day!’ And they made me breakfast, it was pretty cute.”
She says her bacon looked like deep-fried boot leather.
She is recently widowed, and just moved in with her mother. It’s a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other situation. She is still in shock over her husband’s early death a few years ago.
“I thought he’d be around forever,” she said. “You know, you take someone for granted sometimes, you never think they’ll go anywhere.”
She has a cellphone picture. In the photo, her husband is a strapping man with a bushy beard. His three children are hanging from his shoulders.
“He always wanted to go to Spain,” she said. “He wanted to see where his family heritage came from.”
They were able to go. And it was the trip of a lifetime. His health was failing when they visited, and he took naps in the hotel a lot, but they had a marvelous vacation, and they ate world-class food.
She shows me more photographs. In one picture, they are sitting beside an ornate fountain. He is smiling. He has his arms hanging over her shoulders. She leans into him.
“I used to call him my big Teddy bear.”
She hired his favorite band to play for his memorial service. They sang old country songs that he liked.
“People just told stories,” she said. “We did it at our house. It was awesome. The whole day was just music and stuff, and we had beer and wine, and we had a TV playing pictures of him. I miss him so bad.”
She finishes my hair. She brushes me off, she spins me to face the mirror.
My hair is shorter than it was when I walked in. It doesn’t look great, but that’s not her fault. My hair never looks great. I always looks like I’ve just licked a light socket.
She rings me up at the cash register. I don’t have much in my wallet, but I tip her well because I was raised by a single mother, I’ve seen money evaporate like boiled water. I wish it were more.
“I didn’t mean to talk your head off today,” she said. “I get on a roll sometimes and can’t help myself.”
“Don’t apologize to me,” I say.
We redheads have to stick together.
Happy National Redhead Day.