How much is a free hair cut?

Posted: November 24, 2014 in brain belches

Grandpa was a barber in the Air Force. For the first few years of my life he was my barber. He was also my hero, he taught me wrestling holds, horse back riding and the joy of cheese. He gave me my first tattoo (with a bic pen, it was a horse drawn on my back).

My brother, Mark, and I would go over to his house every few weeks for a hair cut. He would break out his clippers (the same ones he used on his dogs). Grandpa knew one hair style…the buzz cut. We were okay with that. At the time, it served our fashion purposes. He would wrap a natty old towel around our necks to collect the trimmings and go to work. His clippers sounded like a small engine plane. It would only take a few minutes. We would eat Grandma’s amazing chocolate chip cookies while we were getting buzzed and then we would run off to dig for treasure in his back yard.

 It worked well until it didn’t…

one fateful Saturday morning when I was seven. There was something different that day, grandpa was louder, stumbling around a bit, not speaking real clearly.

Grandpa was drunk.

My brother, who has always been a little smarter than me, assessed the situation and graciously volunteered me to go first.What happened next can only really be described as a massacre. Grandpa cut my hair in a drunken haze that he would later deny. It was a frenzy of sweaty hair trimmings and the smell of stale coors.

And in the aftermath, a brief awkward silence…

Mom recoiled and then lovingly hugged me and spoke the reassuring words “it will grow back”. My brother snickered and slowly backed out of the room. I ran to the bathroom mirror and saw a ugly combination of bald spots and mangled cow licks.

I ended up with the worlds first punk haircut.

for several weeks I was not without a stocking hat.

It was the last time Grandpa ever cut my hair.

I know it was just a haircut, a silly, free haircut, but it cost me something.

It cost me a bit of my innocence.

For the very first time I saw my grandfather as flawed.

He was a good man who was broken by his own choices.

I didn’t realize that before that day.

it’s a lot for a seven year old to handle.

 I learned a valuable life lesson that day…sometimes free isn’t worth it. Sometimes it exposes you to relationship realities that you can’t handle.

Too often when we try to get something for free it ends up biting us. That happens in every area of life, it’s especially apparent when we take shortcuts in relationships.

Friendship should cost us something. Sacrifice…time…resource…a denial of our self. We should live generously in our dealings with other humans.

 Give until you can’t…live love…live honest…be vulnerable…invest in the people around you.

 And…as the bald father of a hairstylist…don’t be afraid to pay for a good haircut, it’s worth it.


  1. […] my barber. (If you are feeling brave, you can read about that truly hair raising experience here: ) It was much more about function than fashion. At our house, summer was messy and smelly. We […]


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