“The trick is growing up without growing old.”
The Last Buzzcut
This is one of the last photos of me with a buzz cut, or what was known back then as a butch. We were up at my aunt and uncle’s cabin, and my cousins Stephen and Rory and I went into Reno for haircuts with Uncle Gordon. I don’t know how Rory missed out. That’s him pictured on the right. As we were coming back up the mountain, we made a detour off the highway to meet up with my aunt and cousin Lynne who were on horseback. We got stuck in the mud and were using the winch on the front of the Travelall to pull ourselves out.
All the boys in our family got a buzz cut at the start of summer, given the expectation that boys of a certain age get dirty. We got filthy, and it was certainly cooler and easier in the summer heat to have a buzz. But the older we got, the more we resisted the seasonal mowing. We realized having a buzz made us look like kids, and that’s the last thing any self-respecting boy wanted to look like, especially in front of a girl.
My mom had one of those haircut kits they advertised on TV, which she used on me during the school year. Mom was wonderful to me and a very talented gardener who could prune a bush like nobody’s business, and our yard was the pride of the neighborhood. So, I guess she figured she could cut hair as well. She cut mine from birth ‘till I was about nine.
I was making some progress by half-talking my mother into letting me go to the barber shop like the rest of the guys. But she wanted someone who measured up to her standards, and the barber shop didn’t. Instead, she chose Leo, a nice Italian guy across the street who had his own shop. As I got into Leo’s chair, the first thing he asked me was, “Who’s been hacking on you?” My mother pleaded guilty, but she loved to tell that story over the years.
Leo was alright, but the name of his shop caused me great embarrassment. It was called The Merry Go Round, but it might as well have been called The Little Kids Haircut Shop. That’s how I felt going in there. I worried that my friends would see me. Luckily, they had a back entrance.
I wanted so badly to get my haircut at the barber shop almost directly across the street, yet Mom was unrelenting. She thought they would do a hack job, ahem, and I guess she wanted her yard, and my head, to be well trimmed.
The photo above was taken just about an hour after my very last buzz cut. When Fall arrived, however, the twelve-year-old me had enough pull to talk Mom into letting me get my hair cut at the barber shop, like the rest of the guys…at last.
Photo credit: Janice MacLean