“That’s my Greg”, I thought as I groggily lifted my head up in bed. It was four in the morning. The lads let him go early this time. It’s a wonder that he managed to get home, seemingly on his own, and without police assistance. I love Greg dearly, but his drinking is spiraling out of control. That’s ironic, because when we first met, I was the one who was a hot mess and Greg was the normie. Then I got sober, eventually reconnected with Greg, and the rest was history.
Now Greg was the one whose drinking was no longer in the normal/ social category. I don’t mind if he has some fun with his mates, but this is getting worrisome. Worse, he is always so hung-over the next day that he can barely get himself to work, never mind shave or even comb his hair. His reddish-golden hair was a tangled mess that covered most of his ears, his collar, and his eyebrows, while his scraggly beard would be reddish if it were clean.
Tomorrow is actually a holiday, but in this state Greg won’t realise that. The hallway light had come on when he came in, but I didn’t hear him lock the door behind him and there were no footsteps. He must have passed out in the doorway. I got up to see, and sure enough, there he was. I locked the door and removed his shoes. Someone had been sick all over them, so they were not coming into the house.
He was out cold, so I decided to drag him into the main part of the house. Now was my chance. I could bring him into the bedroom, but he smelled horrible and looked dirty. No, the better idea would be to take him into the bathroom.
At first I only meant to clean the sick off of his face, but it was inextricably caught up in his beard. Maybe I could shave it off. Greg wasn’t deliberately trying to grow a beard, after all. I fished out the scissors I use on my own fringe trims and chopped the beard hair down closer to his face before reaching for the can of shaving foam. Here goes. This is fun! I enjoyed covering his face with the white cream and shaving smooth patches into the stubble. Greg will thank me in the morning. I always preferred him clean-shaven. Wow, he’s still so good-looking with his slightly rounded features and big green eyes, which were currently closed.
Let’s see about the hair. Greg will be too hungover tomorrow to go to the barber, and even if he does he won’t cut off nearly enough. He always underestimates the time interval between his haircuts. Greg would look so good with a nice, short cut. I know he’s not very particular about his hairstyle, his only requirement being that his fringe not be in his eyes. Given his head shape and facial structure, he would look best with a very short, compact style. Maybe I could cut it, and if I botch it I can take him to the barber tomorrow to fix it.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, in my sleepy state. Greg himself was still out cold on the bathroom floor. I would need to prop him up against the bathtub. First, though, I took the liberty of unbuttoning his shirt. I might as well strip him naked for easy cleanup. Luckily for me the bathtub walls only came up to his shoulders, so that I could cut the back of his hair if I climbed into the tub.
I tried to comb though his hair, but it was so badly knotted that the comb got stuck. I never brush or comb my curls dry, but Greg’s hair was mostly straight and medium thickness. There was nothing for it but to cut the comb out. I held the comb in one hand while I snipped with the other. This left the hair at the top of his head maybe an inch long. I could work my way down from here.
Instead of chopping haphazardly, I began with the hair at the nape of his neck. It felt good to cut the little tail of mini-mullet that had been growing there. Once I reduced the length of the hair at the back by holding hair between my fingers vertically and cutting, I could insert the comb. Sitting in the bathtub I worked my way up the back of his head going scissor-over-comb, then tried to taper the length down from the occipital bone downwards.
Next would be the right side. I grabbed fingerfuls of hair well above his ear and sliced the length off, then worked my way down. It was a simple matter to pull his ear down to snip off any hair still covering or hitting the ear. Greg had cute ears that I liked to see exposed. I repeated the procedure on the left side before attempting to do any blending. That was the hard part.
Now, for the top. I knew the final length would be about an inch. This would be the shortest I had ever seen Greg’s hair. He had a nice face that should be shown off to best advantage. I stayed with my technique of grabbing fingerfuls of hair and working my way from the back to the front, standing in the bathtub to get the very top of his head. For the fringe I climbed out and snipped from in front.
When I was finished and had cleaned up the cut hair and put away the tools, Greg began to stir. Good, maybe he could stand on his own two feet in the shower. I undressed, put on a shower cap, and put my arm around Greg to try to lift him up.
Once he was in a standing position, I walked him a couple of steps to the shower stall and turned on the water. When I was satisfied with the water temperature, I backed Greg into the stream of water and began to rinse him. I soaped him up and put a tiny amount of shampoo in his hair before backing him up into the water again. Greg was smiling. He had his eyes closed, but it was clear that he was enjoying being washed. For my part I relished the opportunity to touch every square inch of his body, gently rubbing the soap over his chest and arms, down his torso and back, around his bum, and even around his family jewels. I caressed his sinewy thighs and kissed the back of his knees. He would see more action if he wasn’t too drunk most of the time.
His hair was easy to clean at this length. Perhaps I could invest in a pair of clippers to maintain the short back and sides, if he wasn’t going to have the presence of mind to visit the barber regularly.
Once I was satisfied that he was clean, I toweled both of us off and led him toward the bedroom. I didn’t need to use a hairdryer on him, because his hair was now short enough that the towel touched his scalp. Wow, he was still so handsome, now that I had cleaned him up like this to look less like a homeless blackout drunk. His complexion would be ashy tomorrow and there would be dark circles under his eyes, but at least he would look like he had a home with a shower and not like someone who sleeps in the gutter.
Tucking him into bed next to me I suppressed a tear. I lived like that once. There were whole stretches of my twenties that I don’t remember at all: the injuries sustained, the phones and wallets lost, the strange men whose beds I woke up in, the mornings I swore I would never drink again as I hunted for my morning-after bottle, the employers who sacked me, the friends and relatives I hurt. This was a terrible way to live.
I had been honest with Greg when we were dating, thinking he had a right to know about my risk of relapse and any dodgy genes I would pass on to any children we might have. Now Greg was living the misery I had escaped, and it hurt to watch. On the other hand, I also knew that nothing I could say or do could get Greg to want to get sober. This was a decision that he would have to take himself.
In the morning I brought Greg bangers and mash in bed with a cup of tea on a tray. I go to a meeting of a certain fellowship a little before noon on Saturdays. Maybe someday Greg would decide to join me. “Rise and shine! How’s your head?”
Greg rubbed his head, not even registering his newly-shorn hair. He stared at me blankly with dead eyes. “I did it again, didn’t I?”
“You came home by yourself somehow, but passed out in the doorway so I took it from there.” I left out the details. He wouldn’t be able to process them anyway. “Oh, don’t worry, it’s Saturday.”
Greg sat up in bed. “Are you going today?” Was he going to ask to join me? I didn’t want to pressure him, but I hoped he would.
“Yes, I am. It’s at the Methodist church at eleven.” I usually try to get the chores done before I go so that we can do something together afterwards, so I was rushing around the house.
Apparently Greg was feeling robust enough to try to get out of bed, although he quickly fell back down onto the pillow. I could hear him muttering under his breath. His head was too heavy to lift. He didn’t have to tell me, I remembered that part well enough.
Eventually he did manage to get out of bed and stumble into the bathroom. I heard a muffled gasp quite a while later. Greg was finally alert enough to notice the change in his appearance. “I don’t remember getting a shave and a haircut yesterday.”
“You didn’t. I shaved your beard off because it was full of sick, and cut your hair while I was at it.” I stuck my head in the doorway to explain.
Greg rubbed the top of his crude brush cut. “I don’t think I’ve ever had my hair this short but I like it. It’s not in my face.”
“Good, we can always get it cleaned up professionally if you like. I thought you would look better with a sharper haircut. When was the last time you went to the barber? I don’t even remember.”
Greg looked down. “I don’t either. There’s too much I don’t remember. Maybe I shouldn’t go out with the lads tonight. The Methodist church, you said? Can I tag along, just to see what it’s about? I promise I won’t be any trouble.”
I smiled. “Yes, of course you can. I’d be glad to have you.” Greg still looked ashen when we left the house and was shaking slightly, but perked up when he saw Rachel, the wife of one of his mates. I never told Greg who else was at my meeting. Rachel was chair wrangler on this Saturday, but she made an effort to make Greg comfortable. I was on coffee duty with my sponsor so I was able to tell him that my husband was with me, and possibly sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Greg sat next to me during the meeting and listened to the readings and shares. He looked better by the end, as his complexion returned to normal, and I thought he looked more handsome than he had in a long time. Maybe he would agree to keep his hair cropped short like this, especially if it involved shower play. His employer would certainly be pleased.
Eventually Greg took the decision—on his own—to quit drinking, and joined my home group, with Rachel becoming his sponsor. When he said he had learned his lesson I was so happy to have my husband back.