"You know I don't know what I'm doing, right?" I said to my Mom as I stood next to her with a pair of scissors in my hand. "Remember you asked me to do this."
"Just go on and cut it," she replied.
She was sitting by the sliding glass doors with Dad's crazy do-it-yourself barber's cape on. It has neck and arm holes and curves up to catch the falling hair. She left her arms underneath and was not so patiently waiting for me to begin.
Cutting her hair had seemed straightforward in theory: her hair is straight and she just wanted a couple of inches cut off all the way around.
Years ago I had seen a segment on some television show which suggested using tape to create an even line across the hair to cut. I nixed the idea trusting my own sense of level more than my ability to get the tape to be level. Also she wanted the front angled down a bit longer, so straight across the whole thing wouldn't work anyway.
A pair of scissors had come with my Dad's shaving haircut kit, so I used those.
I pulled a section of hair forward and made my first grinding cut. Not very good scissors by a long shot. I immediately had misgivings and thought of quitting before I made things worse. "I'm not sure about this."
"It'll be fine. Just cut the same amount off all the way around."
Initially I figured I'd be conservative and just cut 1 inch off and then edge up if I needed to even it out, but I decided that could easily be the road to disaster, so I started by cutting off about two which was what she wanted.
I continued around the side and to the back. "You can't trash talk me to the hair stylist when you go to get this fixed."
"I won't. I'll just tell them I did it. Unless they say it looks good," Mom said.
"They won't say that," I interjected, shaking my head.
"Then I'll say my daughter cut it," she finished.
I did my best to make the back level, and continued around the other side.
I walked around in front of her and pulled two small sections of hair from either side of her face to compare their lengths. I gotten much more conservative on the last side I'd cut. Starting from the front, I cut around the side to even it out.
The back was a bit of a mess with the hair closer to her head sticking out longer than the outer hair. Dad's cape was beige so it didn't offer much contrast to her mostly white hair.
"Tip your head forward," I said. She did. "Ah, I get why they have you do this now."
I trimmed the undercoat and then did the same for the sides. It could be worse, I thought to myself.
"OK," I said.
Mom got up and we lifted the cape over her head being careful not to spill the hair everywhere. She took it outside and shook it out.
She came back in and looked in a mirror, "This is good, Claire."
When she turned I saw a stray section of hair hanging lower on the back side. "Ooh, wait," I said, "Come back. There's more I need to cut."
I grabbed the cape and headed back to the living room. "Are we going to need that?" Mom asked.
We walked back in and she sat down. "I'm going to have you stand up this time," I said. "It'll let me see it hang down straighter."
I cut the offending small section. "Tip your head forward."
"Don't cut it so short you need to shave my neck," she said.
"No, I just want to clean up the bottom a little more."
I made a few more snips. "OK, that's it. As good as I can do without causing more trouble."
I lifted the cape over her head again and added, "It'll grow back."
A year ago on TTaT: The Outsiders