Rebecca the neighbor lady cuts hair in the front yard. She does it as a challenge to the local Sanitary Board. She has no permit nor license and she never will. She leaves the cut hair on the grass to delight the mushroom people. Her favorite customers are the blind. People born without sight, those with a heavy prescription and local martyrs who've stabbed out their eyes during municipal passion fits. Rebecca takes a lot of pride in making them look respectable and drawing attention from their eye holes. She accepts their money but secretly safety pins it back onto their sweaters as they go.

The county Barber Board (plenty of overlap with the Sanitary and Wiping boards) objects to all of this. They don't like Rebecca's lack of a ceiling. They don't like her cavalier attitude towards cutting smocks. Above all they dislike her seating choices. She doesn't use a typical barber chair. Often one of the board members will crawl by in their big time Cadillac to see Rebecca styling a customer on a tire swing or one of those enormous state fair prize-winning pumpkins.

The Barber Board is now going after her on this chair issue. They cite federal court rulings specifying the necessity of a handled chair. Not arm rests but adjusting arm. For lifting and spinning purposes. Tomorrow the board goes public with threats to shut Rebecca's operation down over this and apply the maximum sanction: 42 hours of forced counseling sessions with bald men.

Rebecca now has a choice: Ignore it and go ahead with powdered sugar Mondays as planned (all customers get sprinkled with a pinch of powdered sugar as they leave) and face a raid or shut down. She won't buy a chair and couldn't afford one even if anyone would sell to her.

I don't know what Rebecca plans to do. So I ask her. She's sitting next to me, finishing a plate of pancakes and butter. “I used to support these boards. This Sanitary Board and the other one. Now all they care about is selling you barrels of comb water. They're all controlled,” she says, pushing aside her empty pancake dish and reaching for her fried egg platter. “All their money comes from that company behind those sticky gloves that help you pick up cut hair. Rich people nonsense.”

So what are you going to do, I ask again. “I'm going to shave horses. And cows and large dogs and convicts' backs. I'm gonna invite everybody. And then scoop up all the cut llama hair and send it in little bags to each member of the Board with a glue stick and instructions on making 5 Minute Wigs. Invite them to join the human race again.”

Chris Weagel

Chris Weagel writes about the intersection of technology and parenting for Wired Magazine. No he doesn't. He can't stand that shit.

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