On our way home from the barbershop, Dad would take a moment to tell me what a great haircut I’d gotten, adding, “It’s because you have such a nicely shaped head.”
Dad was an extremely upbeat guy, always finding something positive to say, which couldn’t have been easy when it came to his chubby, non-athletic younger son. Still, it always made me feel good when he said it, and there’d be starch in my walk the rest of the day. Dad is gone now, and nobody ever compliments me on the shape of my head, although my wife sometimes tells me not to let it get too big.
A short time ago I was traveling on the light rail when a young man sat down opposite me. He was dressed in leather and covered in tattoos. His numerous piercings made me wince inside. But his hair! His stylist must have been having a seizure at the time. There were bald areas, bristly patches, and lengthy strands dyed in colors I associate with a bruise. His rough appearance seemed to match his personality when he growled at me, “What the f#@k are you looking at?”
I flashed on my dad, how he could always find something positive to say. I leveled my gaze at him and smiled. “You certainly have a nicely shaped head.”
He didn’t pull a shiv out of his boot. He surprised me by returning the smile. When he exited several stops later he said, “Have a nice day.”
I miss my dad.