My 65-plus years have seen many haircuts. Growing up, the only folks in my family who got regular, “real” haircuts were the men. I went along when our dad took my brother for his first haircut. That little barbershop with its red and blue barber pole going around outside is still there. The barber with his old stogie has long since passed.

Paula Sparks after an early home haircut. Headbands and home perms came later. Photo courtesy of Paula Sparks

My mom’s hair was never long, so she must have cut it herself. I don’t recall her ever going to the “beauty parlor,” unlike my aunt, who I thought was rich because she went every week.

I have no memories of my home haircuts, but the evidence is in every elementary school photo I own. Cut by my mother, my bangs cropped at the edge of my forehead, angled downward from one side to the other. Someone should have taught her the Scotch tape trick. She never could cut a straight line in anything. But there’s nothing like a home perm to hide a crooked cut. Another photo, of me about 10 years old with long, home-permed hair and a headband restraining the bangs, my face painted like a clown. Considering the ironed, straight-hair look of the late ’60s, it’s probably a good thing I took over cutting my own hair.

When I married, my husband’s long, thick, wavy hair didn’t require much. He, too, had been to a barber at 5 for his first haircut. After that, home haircuts by his dad and then me. He had no intention of returning to the barber, ever. And he hasn’t. His now-balding, shorter hair requires more regular home cuts, especially if we want to avoid the infamous “comb over”!

By the ’80s we had three kiddos in the house, all needing their own haircuts. Home haircuts worked until high school. I managed the mullet cut, but the ponytailed mohawk style ended my haircutting of our oldest, and he became his own barber. Our middle son had one “big boy” cut at the barber. After that, home cuts for him, until he too gave up on my talents and took himself to the barber. Our youngest, a girl, eventually sported thick, long, curly hair that only needed bang trimming – no problem.

Not long after having that baby girl, I had had enough of my own hair and took my scissors to it. A desperate call to a hairdressing friend soon followed. The next morning, she took one look at my hair, hippie length on one side, punk rock-style on the other, and burst into laughter. Since then, it’s been the salon for me.

I was due for my regular cut just when COVID began. Today, my hair is halfway down my back, the longest it has ever been. Not my best look, this ponytailed mane of half gray, half dyed brown. When this pandemic stuff is over, my “COVID coiffure” will be cut and go to a good cause, and something positive will have come from my year of pandemic hair.

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