THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
I committed an act of great daring yesterday.
I got a haircut.
Not just any haircut—oh no. As I write this my hair is shorter than it’s been in more years than I can face remembering.
It’s so short it makes the head of a USMC boot camp recruit look shaggy.
What happened was I woke up with an overwhelming need to change something about myself.
I do that from time to time, mostly when things are going too well and I feel a need to start something new. To find a reason to struggle. The last time I went through that I quit my job, got divorced, and ran off to live with “Wild Indians.”
In comparison with that bit of work deciding I no longer wanted to present myself in a way that made people nod and say, “Oh, aging hippie, I get it,” shouldn’t have been a very big deal. My goal was to look more like the real me…formerly an aging hippie but now—
I didn’t know, but I was hoping my neighbors would help me find out.
My plan was to drive over to the Paradise Barber Shop, tell Hank the Barber I wanted a change, and see what he’d do. I’ve been in that shop before, and I can tell you this: Clippers rule. I’ve never seen a customer leave there needing to use a comb.
But when I got into town I discovered I’d miscalculated. The barber shop was closed. So I walked across the street to the shop where a friendly divorcee named Melissa cuts Gwen the Beautiful’s hair and told her I wanted the $10 “Men’s Special.”
“Are you sure?” she said. “I set the clippers all the way down to ‘Two’ for the Special.”
“’Two’s’ pretty far down there, huh?”
“Well, not as far as ‘One.’”
“How’s this?” I said. “Set it for whatever you want. Give me any haircut you want. I’ve got total faith in your judgment.”
“You mean that? Really?” And before I could answer she fired up that clipper and cut the first swath.
Fifteen minutes later my hair formed a gray and silver and various shades of brown-colored pile of fluff on the floor. With a flourish, Melissa swiveled me around to face the mirror. “What do you think?”
I stared at my new reflection. “What do you think?” I said.
“I love it,” she said. “Honest.” Melissa nodded, more to herself than to me. “You look good. Like a man. Not an old man, and not a kid. Like an adult. Like I wish the man I’m dating over in Morning Star looked.”
Melissa reached out like she was going to hug me. Stopped herself. “Now tell me what you think,” she said.
I wasn’t sure what to say. I looked different, that’s for sure. Felt different too.
I felt the way I’d wanted to feel when I set out from the ranch.
I felt new.
I was walking a new road. At the beginning of a new adventure with a new me. The real me as seen by someone who had no ax to grind, no statement to make, nothing to gain or lose by not revealing the truth.
I thought, “Ah! Beginnings!” and felt my whole body stir.
I thought “Beginnings keep me alive!”
“I like it,” I said. “I like it fine.”
Melissa sighed with relief, and gave me that unfinished hug.
Half an hour later I was pulling up in front of our house. Gwen came rushing onto the front porch. Stared. It wasn’t her half-blind thing. It was something more.
“Who’s this?” she said. “Who’s this man standing over by that truck? When you left here I knew you. Now I’m not so sure.”
“Neither am I,” I said.
Gwen laughed. “That is so cool!”
I came up onto the porch so she could see me better. “I’m not sure I like this,” she said. “But I’m not saying I don’t.”
“That’s all right. We’re on the same page.”
“I’ll tell you one thing though,” Gwen said. “Whoever you are, you’re an adult. Wonder what it’ll be like after all these years, being married to an adult.”
“That’s the great thing about this,” I said. “We get to find out.”
We walked into the house, two familiar travelers taking a new road together.
An act of great daring indeed.