Monday, February 9, 2015

Overconfidence Causes Baldness

I've often been accused of overconfidence.  I'm one of those people who looks at a piece of jewelry, furniture, clothing, or a particular entree', and immediately thinks "I can do that."   This thought is immediately followed by a second thought: "It can't be that hard."  This tendency is genetic, because I grew up hearing my father actually say these exact same sentences.  Overconfidence can be a great trait for a person to have.  It can make you try new adventures that you might never, ever be brave enough to attempt, like trying out for a play. 

Overconfidence can be not so great.  Not everything that looks easy is actually that simple.  Talent takes hard work and skill.  Some people have dedicated their entire lives to making particular sports look easy, for instance, and I'm certainly never going to think that I can dunk a basketball like Michael Jordan or play soccer like Lionel Messi.  That would just be stupid. But my tiny brain hasn't quite figured out which activities look simple due to talent and hard work, and those which I might actually be able to do.  So occasionally, my tendency toward overconfidence gets me into trouble. Especially when I am trying very hard to impress a person.

It was 2000.  My then-fiance' was going through chemo(yes, we've dealt with cancer before), and his wonderfully curly hair became too hot to bear.  Larry asked me to cut it for him, using these clippers that he bought with an adjustable guard.  The commercials regarding these clippers made everything look so simple. You adjusted the guard to a certain number, say '3', and went to work.  The lady in the commercial clipped her way through her entire family of eight in the span of 30 seconds!

Easy, right?  That's what I said.  I didn't even blink, because I thought it would be so simple.  I'd watched the commercial.  How hard could it be?   I was very overconfident. 

I wasn't even nervous.

Larry sat in a chair in the back yard of our duplex, and began chatting about something.  I plugged in the clippers, set them to '2', and turned them on.  Confidently, I began with the back of Larry's head.  And promptly shaved down to scalp right there in the back of his head.  A rectangular strip of pink skin glared at me as the sun hit it.

I was horrified. 

I first looked at the clippers in accusation. That wasn't a '2'!!!  I then looked down at the hank of hair that had fallen to the ground, willing it to float back up and reattach.  It did not respond to my will.  I panicked a little. What had I done?

Other people would have just kept going. Other people would have been certain that they could fix their error, or at least cover it up.  Not me. I had already hit skin; images of how bloody head wounds can be floated through my brain. Nor could I fix this particular issue with a comb over of any kind.  It was time to face the music, so I began the time honored tradition of accepting responsibility and being accountable.


"What do you mean, 'Oops'?" Larry stopped talking and turned around hurriedly.  I stood there looking sheepish, the clippers now held behind me. 

"Um, I cut it shorter than I was supposed to?" I offered hesitantly.  People have strange relationships with their hair.  Would this be a deal breaker in our relationship?   What if he was angry?  What if he decided that an overconfident woman was not the kind of wife he wanted, all because of my error.  I winced a little, in anticipation of the big blow up.

Larry just stared at me.  I sighed.  It was time to be me, and just be frank.

"You have a bald spot now."  I said. "I screwed up. We need to go find someone else to fix it."

To my surprise, Larry took the news rather well.  He even laughed a little about it, reminding me that he had wanted his hair cut short so his head would be cooler.  Such a sweetie!  We had to drive around town a little to find someone who would "fix" my mistake. After they stopped laughing, of course.  I also had to deal with an entire salon of stylists pointing and laughing at me while Larry sat in the chair.  I took it all in stride.

"Not so easy, is it, now?"  They teased, and I had to agree. 


  1. My 10 year old DD2 did much the same thing with the dog clippers. She had long hair at the time so it could be covered up....but I never got a straight answer about what she was thinking.

  2. Now if I recall correctly, the clippers have gone missing, correct? No paybacks?

  3. I used to cut my husband's hair, and I HATED doing it. I can't even remember why I got roped into it, but there never did seem to be a way out of it, even after numerous "oops" mishaps (but none with clippers - I only used them to shave his neck, because I was so afraid of doing exactly what you did). I finally refused to do it anymore, since he would complain about how long it took me, or that I nipped his ear, or pulled his hair, at which time I would shriek, "I'M NOT A PROFESSIONAL!!!"

  4. Oh. You make me smile! I have experienced this exact thing!!! (Minus the cancer - sorry.) But I *finally* quit trying to cut my family members' hair when I accidentally SNIPPED my child's eyelid. OOPS. No one thought that was funny! And we all agreed - no more trying. Hair cutting is not my talent.

  5. You have no idea how many things I have needed a professional to finish.

    (Let's just say it's more than I can remember.)


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