Objects Are Closer — And Hairier— Than They Appear


I cut my own hair.

Certain openings are immune from happy endings, right?

My getting and giving a haircut started with COVID-19. Though barbershops closed, it turns out YouTube stayed open.

Start with your largest guard.

Advice for quarterback sneaks apparently applies to haircuts, too.

But even before locating the large guard, we need to get on the field with the right equipment.

I don’t own hair clippers per se. A beard groomer’s gotta work just as well, right? Some Walgreens scissors. A squirt bottle and a comb. And a bed sheet.

The bed sheet is essential. No matter the YouTube study, self-haircuts are messy business. A good top sheet has the catch radius of Marquez Calloway in the end zone, gobbling up the fallen follicles and keeping things relatively clean.

Next, get oriented. Two mirrors means left is right and right is left. And with a big mirror on the wall and a small mirror in the hand, it also means you can almost see all your head. If the lighting hits just right. In a room with a large mirror. With floor enough to handle bedsheet carpeting.

Finally, don’t forget to stretch. Right hand behind left ear is no longer just for Twister.

Now, find that largest guard again, remove your shirt, and say a prayer. Messy business.

Time-consuming business, too. After all, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you might as well take a long time doing it. My self-shearing usually runs forty-five minutes.

Which is why I should’ve known better. In between errands and an online seminar, I set out for cutting my PR. Thirty-five minutes and then hit the Zoom machine on. Michelangelo probably carved the David in thirty flat. I could manage a measly haircut.

And I did. Kind of. Moving from guard to guard, spritzing and combing and snipping, I found myself in that ethereal place: the zone. The statue only needed freeing from the marble. The work of art spun together. A publicly acceptable haircut was in sight.

Wait, what time is it?!

Phones don’t enter the zone. Only feelings. And it didn’t feel like two-minutes-to-Zoom. Michelangelo, help a brother out!

Scrambling, shirtless but covered in hair, I decided to fold one bad decision into another.

If I hit the Zoom on, I can listen in the background while I clean myself up. What could go wrong?

Of course, something went wrong immediately. The afternoon seminar asked me to sign in again. But my settings are set. My camera never comes on straightaway.

Why is my camera shining blue?!?

I suddenly found myself on the Chalmette Battlefield on a January afternoon, reenacting a gunshot to the chest.

Except my uniform upper-half had already been blasted off.

Slinking low, I grasped for my return to the civilized world. “Camera Off.”

I could breathe again. A blessing.

But I could also see again. The curse.

Did they notice?

I’m not sure how long my Zoom-tastrophe lasted. Somewhere between a moment and forever. Thankfully, I’ll never really know: the seminar recording began after my virtual maiming.

After a year of digital law school — at one of the many temporary University of Phoenix campuses nationwide — a single error is a decent fielding percentage. All the same, I think I’ll be a little more careful.

Objects are closer — and hairier— than they appear.




Other Zoom-tastrophes have been preserved for posterity on our video streamer of record. These candidates for the pandemic time capsule are good for laughs — and for a reminder to fix your settings! “I’m prepared to go forward with it. I’m here live. I am not a cat.”


Of course, there is a move that reminds of the closer positioning of objects.



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