This interesting article was written by
Nikolaus Maack (former owner of this website)
|“The goddamn thing doesn’t work!” yelled a voice. I turned around from typing at my computer and was confronted by Bruce. At least, it sort of looked like Bruce, except patches of hair were missing.
“These clippers cost me thirty bucks,” he growled at me. “Here, you try ’em. Try hacking off a lock of your hair.”
“Uh, no,” I said.
“See this?” he said, indicating his mutilated head of hair. “I did this with scissors. The clippers just don’t work. They’re crap. Remington, no less. A reputable company. I’m going to write them a nasty letter, and get them to send me money. I’ll tell them I’m considering my options. That I, and my lawyer, are considering my options.” Bruce waved the clippers at me. “You try them. Don’t worry — they don’t work.”
“No,” I said a second time.
“Now what the hell am I supposed to do?” Bruce asked me. Then he started fiddling with the clippers, plugging them into a nearby powerbar that the computer used. “You try using them,” he said again, pushing the small black device at me.
I gave in and grabbed the clippers. Bruce bowed down his head and I tried to hack off some of his hair. He was right; the clippers simply did not work. They just caused Bruce to yelp in pain.
“Ow! They just tug on the hair. What am I going to do? I have a neeting in two hours.”
“Go to a salon or a barber,” I suggested.
“Take a bus looking like this?” Bruce snorted.
“There’s a place down the street, near East Side Mario’s.”
“Walk down the street, looking like this?”
To understand the oddness of this comment, you have to keep in mind what Bruce, in his normal state, looks like. We were living together in Bells Corners, and his just being in the neighbourhood caused heads to turn. He looked… homeless. Even on a good day. Well over six feet tall, weighing over three hundred and fifty pounds, he possessed a frizzy beard like a bird’s nest made by a very angry bird, and (until he hacked some of it off) had a head of hair like an explosion of muddy straw.
I’d noticed, as I walked around with Bruce, that the suburbanites infesting Bells Corners did not look on him kindly. They sneered. You could hear them thinking to themselves:
“Go back to the city, you bum. It’s people like you that made me move out to this godforsaken suburbia in the first place! You think I like living a twenty minute drive away from everything? Hell no! I did it to get away from you.”
So walking around with a mangled head of hair would probably not get Bruce any weirder looks than usual. But try telling that to Bruce.
“Do you have a razor?” Bruce asked. “Because I’m going to shave my head.”
I had a razor. One of those Gilette ultra jobbies. Sure, the blades cost more than a dollar each, but it was the best razor I’d come across. (Okay, I fell for a very impressive advertising campaign.) The idea of using my extremely expensive razors to shave Bruce’s head didn’t make me very happy. But I knew I didn’t stand a chance explaining to Bruce that he’d have to buy his own razors. Besides, he was broke — as usual.
“Go ahead and use my razor,” I said. “It’s upstairs, next to the sink.”
Bruce stomped away, still furious about his clippers.
After finishing up on the computer, I went upstairs and painted a bit. I was working on a portrait of Sri Sri somebody or another — a weird mystic psycho with a beard and a head of hair that rivaled Bruce’s — a commissioned work that would get me maybe twenty bucks. (Those were my generous, naive days.) As I was painting the beard bright blue, Bruce stuck his head in the doorway.
“Nik,” he muttered pathetically, “I need your help.”
I turned around and saw that he had shaved half of his head. The front half. There was a small, bloody wound on his temple. He looked like he’d just received a bout of shock treatment.
“I can’t see what I’m doing,” he admitted. “And I’m hacking my scalp to bits.”
So I went into the bathroom and helped him shave his head.
Bruce at the time described himself as a buddhist, and part of his personal belief system (which he lectured upon endlessly) was being passive in pain. If you are passive in pain, you can simply ignore pain, allow it to happen without affecting you. It was a very useful belief for him to have, under the circumstances, because though I did not cut him up while shaving his head, I did give him some mighty wicked razor burn. Also, shaving cream drooled down the side of his face into his eye. He was kneeling on the floor with his head perched on the edge of the sink, which was pretty funny in itself, without even considering all the pain and discomfort I was causing him — which made it all even funnier.
“You’re doing a pretty good job,” he said, when we paused for a break.
“You know us Germans,” I said cheerfully. “We’re great at shaving heads.”
For reasons that cannot be explained, Bruce has a dent in the back of his head. Two of them, actually. They’re like two ditches where his skin flaps in upon itself. It’s as if there are two rolls of fat on the back of his skull, except the fat is solid scalp. Getting the hair growing in these rolls was the most annoying part. No wait — the most annoying part was the hair buried in the curls of Bruce’s ears. He has two valleys, one behind each ear, where hair grows most plentiful.
Finally, I just stopped. I was sick of it, and I figured I’d done a good enough job. It took roughly an hour, working with scissors, half a can of shaving cream, and one razor after another. When Bruce washed the cut hair off his head, and I got a look at what I’d done, I was aghast. With no hair on his head, and a big fluffy beard, Bruce’s head seemed to taper to a point. He looked like a circus freak — a pinhead.
“What do you think?” he asked me.
“You have a head like an overweight bowling pin,” I said tactfully.
It was at that moment that a dawning look of horror crept on to Bruce’s face, and he let out a low groan.
“You’re going to write about this, aren’t you?” he asked me sadly.
It hadn’t occurred to me, at the time. But now that he mentioned it, it seemed like a pretty good idea.