323 | I Miss Supercuts

March 23, 2014
Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Letter #323: I Miss Supercuts


Dear Family,

It is no secret that I am tremendously blessed. My family has consistently written to me, sent me gifts, taken my calls, and most incredibly, visited me more often than any other inmate whose family lives in California. Blessed is a polite, religiously-washed word for “spoiled.”

In anticipation of my mom’s visit this weekend, I wanted to get my hair cut. I can’t wear a spiffy new outfit, but I can at least try to look and smell nice. I’d only had one haircut since moving back to my old familiar pod, and the guy who cut it took an hour and a half. If I’d known that my cellie, Joe, can cut hair, I would’ve asked him earlier. So, this week, we got out the hair trimmer, and I told Joe to please leave the length on top, but to take a little off of the sides. I clearly remember that I said, “a LITTLE” off of the sides.

The next thing I know, the cutting guard is off of the trimmer, and Joe has run a track up the right side of my head. He made a little “uh-oh” sound, which is something no barber or surgeon should ever be heard saying. Keep that to yourself, thank you. I calmly stood up, over his protestations, and I gave new, updated instructions about salvaging the hairdo, mostly consisting of not cutting any higher than the top of the bare streak up the side of my head.

Bit by bit, Joe kept “evening out” the damage, and bit by bit, I kept giving up my expectations of having a great haircut. I asked Joe what I had done to make him hate me and if he was initiating me as a skinhead. We had several good laughs over the ever-worsening disaster that was my hairstyle. “Blending” it with the top—which I refused to let him touch—only resulted in even more of my skin showing through even less of my hair.

I finally called it quits and thanked Joe for trying. He kept saying how very sorry he was, and I told him that we’ll just say that I’d asked him to cut my hair a bit more “drastically.” He tried saying it looked good, but he couldn’t keep a straight face. If you stood on top of my ears and looked straight up, you couldn’t see any hair—it was all on top of the mountain.

I had to prepare my mom for the shock. I called her and told her that her son now looked just like Bert from Sesame Street. I mean, guys in my pod were taking time out from laughing for humming or singing the little theme song, “Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street.” It became an instant pod-wide trending topic. #hideoushairdont

My mom said that at least I don’t have the thick black unibrow that Bert has. She should have never said that to me. Last year, you may recall, I sported four cornrows as a hairstyle when she visited me. A unibrow proved to be no problem at all, thanks to a thick black calligraphy pen and a strong desire to make my mom laugh.

Friday at one o’clock was the start of visiting, and I went with my hair standing stiffly straight up (thanks, state-issued bar soap), and that huge eyebrow across my forehead. I made it to the visiting room with no incidents, the eyebrow hidden behind sunglasses. I distracted the guy facilitating my strip-search, so he didn’t notice.

Then, I entered the visiting room. Instantly, the officer working behind the surveillance desk asked me what I was doing. I pretended not to hear, avoiding the question for the moment. Two other officers barked at me, almost in unison: “Hey, what the heck is that?” Marking on your body is not permitted, of course, but I’ve “surprised” my mom and dad with fake tattoos before. The officer working the desk waved off the other two officers. “Leave him alone. He’s crazy.”

Well, my mom sure did laugh; my goal accomplished. But, I didn’t want to take a picture with my unibrow, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Tell you how to get to Sesame Street? Ask Joe. He’ll get you there.