Monday, September 27, 2010

Did Oliver Hardy use a Flowbee?

Terry Stephan

I was looking in the mirror saying, “Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into.”
You may remember Oliver Hardy saying that to Stan Laurel. Laurel and Hardy were making films in the 1920’s and 30’s. I watched those movies and short films decades later, in my formative years, along with Rocky and Bullwinkle when I got home from school in the afternoons.
The ‘nice mess’ phrase usually comes to my mind over simple problems, like trying to cut my own hair and getting results I don’t expect. Operating a pair of scissors in the mirror, for me, is a physically dyslexic challenge. When I’m done, my hair in disarray, I envision Oliver nervously twiddling his tie atop his big belly, admonishing Stan Laurel. “This is another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.”
I have a long, sadly comical history with haircuts. I avoid the barber shop like the plague. The cost has nothing to do with it, I don’t mind paying for a haircut; it really isn’t a lot of money when you consider the amount of time it takes, the space and tools needed.
I do resent that extra thing on my list of ‘to dos’ on a trip into town. I go with the intention of getting a haircut, wedged between shopping and the drug store. I become impatient after being in line at a couple of stores and end up driving home with all the hair I came to town with.
I’ve considered other possibilities, never getting my hair cut, for instance. I did that in the seventies. After a while the warm weather gets to me. Washing all that hair is a tough job as well.
I thought of the “Mr. Clean” look, just shaving my head. I already spend an inordinate amount of time shaving; I can’t manage to get all the whiskers off my face at one time. I think my skin head look would be a constant state of stubble. My knobby skull would scare people.
When I was a kid my mother blamed the bad haircuts she gave me on the bowl she was using. Her attempts at barbering my hair (and my three brothers’ hair) abruptly ended when she cut a chunk out of my ear with her scissors and I bled profusely all over myself, the table and kitchen floor. I was only 8 or 9. It scared the wits out of her.
My barber nowadays is a spicy woman I’ve known for years. We have a sort of an understanding, I think. A week after she cuts my hair I begin to trim it myself, just a little at a time. I think it looks pretty good for a while and then one day, in the mirror, I realize it is very long, well; it’s long in several places.
I steadfastly soldier on, trying a few more times to make the sides match, hoping no one comes to the door. When I get to the point where it looks like I was raised by a pack of wolves who just chew their hair off, I pull a hat over my head and go see my spicy barber friend. She fixes my hair, no questions asked, and with a straight face.
Then, my wife bought a “Flowbee” at a garage sale. It is a hair cutting device that you hook to your vacuum cleaner. It sucks your hair out straight through a tube and then cuts it off. It has varying lengths of tubes to cut different areas of your head. The cutting head is the size of a small toaster mounted at the end of a vacuum cleaner hose which in turn is a attached to a “brick” wall power unit and then to my shop vac.
I put the whole thing together, turned on the loud, rattling clipper unit, switched on the louder, jet engine sounding shop-vac and looked in the mirror.
The vacuum hose was around my neck and I held the toaster-like clippers to my head. Through the cacophony, I did my best Oliver Hardy, “This is another nice mess you’ve gotten me into”. I may have to visit the spicy barber girl again, very soon.

No comments: