I sat in the chair at SportsClips in Fairhope, Alabama and ordered my haircut. “Can I take your glasses?” I handed them to the raven-haired round faced stylist and she put them on the counter in front of the mirror. We made the usual small talk.
“Who cuts your hair,” and “have you been to SportsClips before.” I liked all the questions. It reminded me of my reporting days when I would ask the questions, but often it turned conversational. We had good banter.
“What kind of gel do you use?”
“I don’t know I just borrow my wife’s.”
“You should get the MVP, it’s like a mini spa,” she said, and she wasn’t smiling, but I could tell I was being sold to.
“Plus, it’s actually a dollar cheaper than the regular haircut. It’s eleven dollars.” Now I was interested, and decided to MVP.
“Your hair is so thick,” she said, complimentarily.
“In some places,” I said, about the top, an area I call the cone of uncertainty.
“No your fine” she said, and oddly that reassured me coming from her. I think she was being honest.
“This side’s wanting to stick up already, you sure you want the top a little shorter?”
“No better leave it.”
After the cut, she blew off the hair, and took off the apron around my neck.
“Did you tear your ACL?”
She gestured toward my knee, noticing the seam, which looks like a brace.
“No,” I told her lifting my pant leg, “I wear a prosthesis.”
“Oh,” she said casually, then added “my uncle’s a triple amputee and my granddad’s an amputee too.”
“He jokes about it a lot,” she said about her uncle, something to affect that he was a risk taker who lived about a two hour drive away.
“He’s Country,” I said. She giggled, nodded, smiled.
We moved to the sink, and continued the conversation about her uncle as she was washing my hair.
She put the hot towel around my face, not over my nose and mouth, and asked if I was comfortable.
“I’ll probably keep talking even if with the towel over my mouth.” It was very relaxing, so I just listened.
“My uncle was electrocuted.”
I had the towel over my face, she was washing my hair, careful not to spray water in my ear, and I really was enjoying the beginning of my mini spa, until she had jolted me awake.
“He was electrocuted?”
“Yeah he was working in a bucket, you know, on a truck, and got electrocuted. It was about 16 years ago, so I was little.”
“They couldn’t save his legs. My granddad lost his in the war, he’s an above knee but my uncles are both below knee.”
“Mine was a birth defect but they amputated more when I was I kid. I didn’t experience the trauma that your family did, especially your uncle.”
“There are so many different stories though, and you were a kid, so I’m sure that was tough.”
“Do you have problems or pain? I’ve heard them talking about it sometimes.” she said.
“Yeah sometimes, but this leg’s been pretty good so far.”
“They complain about how it fits.”
“If the leg is wrong from the start, no matter what they do it seems like it’s never right and your better to just start from scratch.”
We moved back to the chair for the neck and shoulder massage with one of those handheld massagers.
“I broke my toe once when I kicked my uncle’s leg,” she said and I saw myself laughing in the mirror, “he wasn’t wearing them when I did it.”
“Well, I left my leg on the floor once and my wife kicked it and broke her toe.” She was facing away from the mirrors, but I heard her laughing.
“That’s just who they are,” she said of her family. Yeah, that’s what my family says about me. They never treated me any differently because they have known me no other way.
“Okay How’s it look?”
I looked, then asked, “Could you hand me my glasses?”
“It looks good,” I said, after viewing it from multiple mirror angles.
As we walked to the register, I said “Do you have a card?”
She grabbed a generic one from the holder near the cash register as I grabbed one from my wallet and wrote the blog name on the back.
“I’ve got a sense of humor, but not as good as your uncle.”
She wrote her name on the back. Nikki, in stick-like letters that looked like the hash mark lines I use to count reference and computer questions at the library.
When I got into the car to look at the cut, the spot Nikki told me was going stand up stuck out like a stump, just like our amputee family stories.