Seth Brown | The Pun Also Rises: Cutting remarks

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I told her I was sorry. I was unqualified, but was given the job nonetheless, and knew I was about to screw it up.

My partner had asked me to cut her hair.

She had bought an electric hair clipper so we didn't have to break our self-isolation for haircuts, and I was about to use it on the back of her head. As expected, it didn't go great. I did manage to avoid causing her any injury, and also made her hair shorter, so in those two respects, it was a success. But aesthetically speaking, less so. Apparently she had wanted her hair vaguely even or something, but aesthetics are not my strong suit, as anyone who knows me will attest. My partner is much better at this sort of thing, but she can't see the back of her head, so she'd asked for my help.

Luckily, she could see the back of my head, so I asked her to return the favor. I figured she would find it very easy to cut my hair perfectly. Her first comment significantly reduced my confidence.

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"Who put your ear there, Picasso?"

In spite of this inauspicious start, when she finished cutting my hair it was also shorter with me uninjured, and was a better job than I had done with her hair. It was still, however, a much worse job than my barber usually does. There's nothing like self-isolation haircuts to make you appreciate the skills of people who cut hair for a living. I'll be eager to get a professional haircut again — not so eager that I'm going to go protest at the Michigan state capital with gun in hand -- but as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is over and it's safe again, I'll be visiting my barber.

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My barber's name is Chris, and he owns and operates a small barber shop named Klipper Kingz in the middle of town here in North Adams. I met him at a poetry event well over a decade ago, and after expressing appreciation for each other's poems, it turned out that we were both rappers. We made an instant connection, and even though it took me a few years to work up the motivation to leave my previous barber and become a client, I'm glad I did.

Klipper Kingz is one of the few black-owned businesses in North Adams, and at a time when black people in this country could really use some support (by which I mean the last 400 years, but also especially these past few weeks), I think it's essential that support means not just posting on Facebook, but also hiring them to do what they're good at. And since Chris has long been a go-to barber for celebrity actors performing at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, it's clear he's very good at haircuts.

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I should make clear, I don't think my getting a haircut is suddenly going to solve racism, leading the entire town to get buzzed and march in the street at a fast clip, singing snippets of "We Shall Overcomb."

But if you're going to be purchasing goods and services anyway, consider the benefits of spending your dollar with people who might already be facing additional stress from things like systemic racism.

They may as well get their cut.

Seth Brown of North Adams is an award-winning humor writer and the author of "From God To Verse." His website is


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