Wife's haircut humbles hubby

June 06, 1994|By KEVIN COWHERD

Once upon a time, in a suburb of Baltimore not far from Interstate 83 and a Jiffy Lube outlet and a pretty good Safeway, there lived a writer of 750-word whimsical pieces.

One day, the writer's wife came to him and said: "I hate my hair. I'm going to get it cut. See you in a couple of hours."

At these words, the writer was filled with fear, because he knew he would soon be called to comment on her new hairstyle, which was a no-win proposition.

So as soon as he heard her leave, he began sprinting around the kitchen in small circles, in the manner of a panicked cocker spaniel, whimpering: "Oh, God, what do I do?! What do I do?!"

Briefly, he considered packing a small bag and checking into the local Holiday Inn for a few days.

But he knew she would track him down there, because she was like Kojak or Mannix when it came to these things.

Yes, she would track him down and kick in the door to his hotel room just as he settled back to watch a Steven Seagal movie on Spectravision.

And even if he managed to jump up and vault over the balcony railing and do a quick shoulder-roll onto the walkway by the pool, she would run him down, because she was very quick.

Then she would tackle him and pin his shoulders to the warm concrete. And as the two of them lay there gasping for breath, she would demand: "Like . . . my . . . hair?"

So the writer decided there was nothing to do but sit tight and see how the whole thing played out.

He turned on the TV and watched a talk show with a host named Bertice Berry. The topic was: "Women jealous of their husbands' former wives."

Soon, the writer fell into a fitful sleep in which he dreamed that Bertice Berry's staff had issued semiautomatic weapons to both the jealous women and their husbands' former wives, and that a full-scale firefight ensued in the studio as audience members scrambled for cover.

A couple of hours later, the writer was awakened by the sound of a key turning in the front door.

He heard a voice say: "What do you think?"

Groggy from sleep, he thought at first it was Bertice Berry. He wondered how she had gotten into the house. But then he looked up from the couch and saw it was his wife.

Her hair was very short. Her clothes were nice. Her smile was pretty. But her hair was very short.

He groped for something to say. Then he said the only thing you can say in these situations.

"I . . . like it," he said.

"No, you don't," she said, the smile evaporating from her face.

"Honest, it's really . . ." he started to say, but she turned away and stomped up to their bedroom and turned on a talk show with a host named Jerry Springer.

The writer followed his wife upstairs. Jerry's topic was: "Woman confronts son who killed his father."

It looked interesting in a freak-show sort of way, but the writer couldn't really devote his full attention to it, on account of he had to say something about his wife's hair.

But she spoke first: "It wouldn't kill you to say something nice about a person."

"Aw, babe . . ."

"Don't 'Aw, babe' me."

"I said I liked it."

"You don't like it. I can tell."

"It looks really nice."

"Forget it. Not now. Not when I have to tell you to say it."

All that afternoon, the writer's wife sat in their bedroom. She watched Montel Williams and Oprah and part of "Donahue" and Ricki Lake, who has lost about 325 pounds over the past year, if anyone's interested.

That evening, the writer jumped in the car and went to a Sichuan restaurant not far from a Mr. Tire outlet, where he got a takeout order of sesame shrimp and kung pao chicken and egg rolls and some other stuff that probably takes 20 years off your life, but tastes so damn good.

He took the food home and knocked on the bedroom door and heard Ricki Lake's voice say: "But why are you looking for a blue-collar man?"

At first the writer's wife said no, she couldn't possibly eat with someone who hated her hair.

But this made them both laugh. And by the time they finished the kung pao chicken, he decided there was something to be said for his wife's new hairstyle.

Although he was probably not the person to say it.

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