I felt the waxy goo before I saw it. Squinting, for a better look, I carefully separated the hair that grew from his temples, ordinarily bristling white, but now suspiciously black and tarry. Interrupting my cutting, I ventured, "Doug, what's all over your hair?" As I awaited his reply, I contemplated my long professional relationship with the man seated before me. I cut hair and work with hairpieces for a living. I design, install, and maintain them for fees far below those of large companies whose lavish infomercials are viewable following David Letterman's show. Doug was not typical of my clients. He favored a vanity I could not understand and fed it as cheaply as possible. His obsessive search for his lost youth was equaled only by the stinginess of his wallet. I had taken care of his hair needs for ten years since he was in his early forties, and not once had he tipped me or acknowledged his age. My patience with him ran thin, but I was about to experience something that would help my own dilemma of age and vanity regarding my life and my profession.
Interrupting my reverie, I heard him mutter, "It's mascara." He kept glancing sideways at his wife who currently smelled of methane gas and sported a plastic bag on her head brimming with perm rods. "It's mascara," he repeated, "You know, for the gray..." I continued cutting,
Cornish, p. 2
just shaking my head. Doug was the only client to whom I continually gave hairpieces near cost. He always looked as though the mangy matted mess upon his crown were some form of
exotic roadkill. I rued the day his peers at the San Diego Courthouse might ask the name of his stylist. I practically gave him new pieces to wear so the look of my work would improve. "Doug, I have known you more than ten years." I stated the obvious and began my never ending discourse regarding his problems with growing older, his lousy self-image, as well as the horrible state of...