It took some time, because we wanted Mandy’s family to be able to attend, so we had to schedule our wedding for March Break, months away. In the meantime, I regularly buzzed Mandy’s sides and back, trimmed the top with my fingers as a length guide, and my boys reverted to their usual music star/ movie star/ sports star short hair requests. We played with Mandy’s colour, knowing a half inch trim would be enough to snip off any colour when it was time for her next cut. She let the sides grow out a bit, but kept the back shaved close and actually got crabby when it got long enough to be wispy.
I have a big family, but I wasn’t really prepared for Mandy’s family. My family tend to mind their own business, happy to help when asked, or even when not asked, but they keep their opinions to themselves. Maybe because we all live locally, we know we’re there when needed, but we stay out of each other’s business. Mandy’s mother had no problem sharing with everyone that it’s too bad I’m a hairstylist, because Mandy must feel the pressure from me to have a “lesbian short haircut.” She thought I was too strict with my boys, therefore I will also be a controlling husband, and had no problem saying it was a shame that Mandy would never have kids “of her own” now that she was marrying me. I wondered if she was that opinionated with her kids who live nearby, or if she just saves it up for when she sees Mandy. I also wondered if that was why Mandy never moved back after medical school.
It was getting annoying having this woman in my house always opining about what a step down I was for her daughter, but I didn’t want to be the jerk who fought with Mandy’s mother. Mandy’s mother didn’t listen to Mandy, so she urged me to show her the same lack of respect and “just don’t listen to her. That’s what I do.”
After the rehearsal dinner, my siblings and Mandy’s friends kicked us out and said to go off and have some time with our family- Mandy, me, the boys- away from all the distractions. They promised us that the church would be beautiful whether or not we were there to help hang bows, the reception hall would have enough twinkle lights and more than enough opinions about how to hang them. “Let’s go to your shop and order Chinese,” my oldest suggested, within earshot of Mandy’s mother. “We need haircuts, and we have a surprise for you.” I didn’t know what they had in mind, but we would all have crossed the gates of hell for some peace from Mandy’s mother, especially as we heard her lament that “the hall can’t be too pretty, it will make the brushcut bride look plain,” as we left.
My nearly closed for the night, quiet, shop was an oasis after all the entertaining we’d done that week. As my oldest placed our ‘usual’ order for Chinese, I grabbed my clippers, thinking I’d have time to shave the boys before the food arrived. “No,” my youngest shook his head. I braced myself. Was this week with his new grandmother going to cause a war when I wanted to trim up his hair? It was my wedding, could he please just obey me without making me look ‘too strict?’ “We struggled with what to get you guys as a wedding present,” he explained, as he closed his phone. “You have everything. But we thought it might be nice to let Mandy pick the haircuts we wear to her wedding.” Mandy could only smile as she wiped tears from her eyes. “We know you’re not our ‘real’ mom,” my youngest added. “But we don’t remember much of her and we don’t have anyone to compare you to. We’re happy you’re about to be our mom, and we hope we’ll be enough for you.” When Mandy finally let go from the hug she wrapped them in, she asked playfully “any cut I want?”
“You could go full Jason Statham and we’d do it,” my oldest nodded, while his brother panicked. Maybe they were getting more than they’d bargained for. “It’s always seemed to me that moms give their kids haircuts,” Mandy suggested, and waited to see how they’d react to that. “I’ve been watching your dad give you guys haircuts for almost two years. I think I have some good tools at my disposal.” My oldest immediately hopped into a chair and I sat back to watch as my fiancée wrapped him in a cape, combed his Marcus Mumford hair, and reached for my clippers. “You’ll stop me if you see I’m about to screw up, right?” she asked me. I promised I would but also vowed not to be a backseat driver. “If you screw up, we can always go Jason Statham,” my oldest reminded her, as she made the first tentative shave up the back of his head. She cut slowly and cautiously, conscious of the trust he had shown her when he sat down first and didn’t even blink at the prospect that she, not me, would be wielding the clippers. My youngest, now aware that Mandy was capable of clipping a rather nice taper cut, didn’t object, either, and got the benefit of Mandy’s growing confidence as she shaved. It was a beautiful site. We swept up and ate the dinner that had arrived, the shop now empty, while I contemplated how I would snip Mandy’s hair for the big day. Her mother’s sniping had made me question myself, but watching her with my boys and seeing the family we’d become really made me anxious for her mother’s departure so my clippers could once more sing across Mandy’s hair. Mandy’s hair was almost three inches on top now, and I really wanted to give that a good buzzing. After the wedding, I reminded myself. She needed enough on top to hold some sort of tiara or flowers. Mostly she needed enough hair to shut up her mother. And it would give me something to look forward to.
Mandy announced she had something in the car, and while she was gone, I thanked my boys for their present. It meant a lot to Mandy, and to me, their words as much as their actions. “I think we might fire you as our stylist, Dad,” my youngest giggled, rubbing his freshly shorn hair. “I like Mandy’s haircut better.” I tried to tousle his freshly shaved locks, which I couldn’t properly do because they were so short and neat, and called him an ingrate. I had to admit, she had a talent with the clippers. I wondered if I’d be able to get her to start clipping my hair. “That could be a problem,” Mandy smiled, back from the car with a gift bag. “Part of the reason I am marrying a hairstylist is so I can get my hair shaved up whenever it feels a bit sloppy.” I was more than delighted by what was inside that gift bag. It was a new Andis Speedmaster 2, beautiful, shiny chrome hair clipper kit. I’m not usually a brand snob, but Andis clippers are the best to crunch through thick or wet hair quickly and expertly, and the Speedmasters are a cut above that. They buzz through the thickest hair, stay cooler, and in general are a stylist’s dream for shaving expertly. “I think you should break these in,” Mandy added, parking herself in my chair. I wanted to give her a good shave so badly, but I didn’t want to spend my wedding day listening to her mother’s criticism. I didn’t want Mandy to have to hear it either. A bride should feel beautiful on her wedding day. I suggested I charge them while we decided how to cut her hair. And in the meantime, I needed a buzzing myself and since Mandy had proven herself quite an adept cutter, I wanted her to cut my hair. She was happy to comply, but not until I did start to charge the new clippers.
When I removed them from their box, I noticed that she’d had them engraved with “reserved exclusively for Mrs. Amanda Green-Armstrong.” I guess I didn’t need to wonder if she wanted a shorter haircut for the wedding. As Mandy trimmed away at my hair with my standard-issue stylist’s clippers, I thought about how I would use my new clippers on her and was grateful I had met this amazing woman. I didn’t get the chance to think too long, because as she cleaned up my neck, she asked me if I remembered the woman who announced her pregnancy with a shorter haircut. I did, but part of her mother’s ire was the fact that I’ve had a vasectomy and if we wanted to have kids, I’d have to get that reversed. Mandy wasn’t too keen on taking time off from her surgical career to do that, and had confessed that was one of the reasons she was okay with dating a single dad when her friend first set us up. Was she trying to tell me she wanted me to get the reversal surgery? I remember her, I admitted. Her hairstyle was a jagged razor cut, and I really preferred Mandy shaved and neat. But she could definitely pull off that kind of cut. Were you thinking of that razor style, I asked her. “No, I was thinking that she cut her hair short to announce that she was a mom. I think I am now, too. I want a Sexy Mom Buzz.”
I then shaved her back and sides up close with my new clippers, loving how quickly the new blades tamed Mandy’s thick hair, how the dark colour disguised how short it actually was. I caught the top between my fingers and shaved off everything that poked over them. It was a sexy, feminine, but very short cut. “What do you think, guys?” she asked my sons, running her fingers through the top and letting the longer pieces fall playfully. They smiled and said they were glad those clippers where just for her, but she was beautiful and her mother was crazy. Mandy glided down the aisle in her shaved short cut, her smile so big compared to her mother’s lemon-faced sulk. Her hair held little rhinestone pins and I have to admit, I enjoyed running my fingers through that soft little buzz. We brought those clippers on our honeymoon and I think she got a trim every three days.