Tomorrow is picture day at Peachtree School. Ben’s hair just wouldn’t make the grade, even with combing and olive oil dressing, so after school today we stopped by Rush’s Barber Shop.
We used to go to Royal Cuts way over on Ellsworth, where Benjamin got very stylish cuts but the barbers were young and not too patient. So there were lots of tears, sobs, and gnashing of teeth. One barber even took off his belt and handed it to me so that I would beat my son. I declined.
Mr. Rush, on the other hand, talks to Ben in a grandfatherly voice, keeps encouraging him, and slips him a Brach’s caramel now and then. He’s truly the first no tears barber we have known. Ben’s pediatrician, a magician in his own right, recommended Mr. Rush.
So when we got there today and found the door locked, my heart sank. Mr. Rush came out of his back office with a big old smile, and let us in. I told him we could come in early tomorrow instead, because tomorrow was picture day. He said he knew I work during the day, and it was fine. He said, “I was going to meet someone, but it can wait. Picture Day is very important.” He said it with capital letters.
With that he stooped down to Ben’s level and invited him into the chair.
I think he knew I felt just the right amount of guilt and gratitude that he was breaking an appointment in order to make my son look sharp.Picture day brings out all kinds of feelings I thought my old hippie self would never feel. Like guilt and gratitude for a gentleman barber who spent just the right amount of time cutting my son’s hair. Like this pride that swells up over my son’s manners as he thanks Mr. Rush without being prompted. And, yes I admit it, I like him to look sharp.
I even wanted to iron tonight. Not just the shirt, but the jeans just in case a sitting pose shows a wrinkled hem of jean. Iron. The last time I ironed was ironing the front of a blouse to wear under my court suits. Then I discovered synthetic shells. So it’s been maybe fifteen years or more. Tonight, the shirt, the jeans, and even the cotton vest got ironed.
Last year, Ben’s first picture day, I went into debt buying all the pictures and all the gimmicks they could offer. This year, I am a little wiser, but I know I will spend freely.
After all the Little Man looks so damn sharp, and with that million dollar smile, who could ever resist? Tomorrow we’ll show you the outfit—tonight it’s just too late. Ben’s been sound asleep since before I started ironing, and after I got his stuff done it felt so good I got out three old linen shirts of my own and ironed them.
Next thing you know, I’ll be cutting my hair.