Richard

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The last time I saw Richard was around this time last year.

In the interim, I’ve had exactly one hair cut, a $20 deal a few blocks from home, a cost-saving measure at the height of my concerns about the recession. Afterward, I realized why one of Francisco’s favorite lines from “Schindler’s List” is true: “Nice things cost money.”

So last week, I sucked it up and trucked downtown to see Richard, who’d make it all right.

Richard, who’s straight, married, and has a child, likes to chat even more than he likes to cut hair, I think. He takes an hour to razor bob the ends of my hair, far longer than I think the job actually requires, but it’s because he stops a lot, scissors poised in the air, talking about marriage, parenthood, and other things–like travel–that we have in common.

“So, what’s new?” he asked as he started to trim. “Well, I’m having a baby in September; I guess that’s new.” It was just the admission he was waiting for and it let us pick up where we left off last summer, talking about how inept he feels about… well, just about everything.

“My wife wanted a C-section,” he began, telling me a good part of the story of his daughter’s birth. “But the doctor said he wouldn’t schedule one just because she wanted one. When she pushed the kid out, the nurse handed her to me. I just looked at our kid and thought, ‘What am I going to do with this?’ I wanted to give it back. I was just in awe of my wife- in awe that a woman could do what she’d just done.”

He went on to tell me how hard it’s been–marriage, parenting, the whole package. His wife accused him of having an affair: “I mean, how does she think that’s even possible? I work, I take the late train home, I eat, I go to bed. I don’t even have energy for her. How could I possibly have the energy to have an affair?” She bought him baseball tickets for Father’s Day and then went along. “I mean, really? It was supposed to be a guy’s day out. We were supposed to have beer. And suddenly, she’s asking me to go buy her an ice cream. Don’t make that mistake,” he tells me.

As he talks, I’m mostly quiet, not looking at him because I’m facing a window instead of a mirror. I think we both like it like that. I marvel that he tells me these intimate details of his life, of his flaws and foibles and fears.

And this is why I love Richard and will continue to make appointments for him to cut my hair instead of the better looking, far more stylish fellow dressed in a natty linen suit who was clipping away when I arrived. I love his honesty, even as it sometimes scares me.

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