They were sitting at small table in an Italian restaurant owned by Greeks.
“You look really cute,” he lied.
“So do you,” she lied.
They’d been lying for over twenty years.
“Okay, I’ve got good news for you,” he said. “I’ve decided not to get a buzz-cut.”
She glanced at his head. “I didn’t say you couldn’t get a buzz-cut. I said don’t call it a buzz-cut. I don’t like the name of it.”
“What should I call it? A crew cut?”
“Getting my head shaved?”
“Just say it’s a short haircut.”
He heaved. “That would be a really short haircut. I’m getting a really short haircut.”
“I thought you weren’t getting it.”
“...Oh, yeah. I’m not. Okay, I’ve got good news for you. I’m not getting a really short haircut.”
The waitress came with breadsticks, took their order.
She picked up a stick, broke it in half, put half back in the basket. “I think you should get your buzz-cut. You’ve been talking about it now for over a month.”
“So you want me to think about it again?”
“You really want one.”
“No, not really. Maybe.”
She chewed, swallowed, thought. “Why do you want one?”
“I don’t know. Just for fun. I see them all the time, old guys with really short hair. So I wouldn’t look too odd, I wouldn’t stick out. And neither would my hair.”
“Your hair does stick out.”
“You’ve said that. So if I got one, you wouldn’t have to yell at me all the time to fix it. You’d have to yell at me for something else.”
She ignored him. “You won’t like it.”
“Because you’d know how bald you are. You don’t think you’re that bald, but if you cut it really short, you’d see how much hair you don’t have.”
He nodded. “I…guess that makes sense, although I’m not sure.”
“It makes perfect sense.”
He picked up a breadstick and took a big bite. She picked up the half she’d put back, and nibbled on it.
“Why do you really not want me to get one?” he said.
“Because you’d have to keep it short.”
“Why? If I don’t like it I can grow it out.”
“No, you can’t. You have that weird, wispy, curly hair. If you let it grow out even a little, you’d look like short-hair Bozo.”
“…Until I don’t look like short-hair Bozo. Eventually I’d look like long-hair Bozo.”
“Or just Bozo.”
She broke another breadstick, putting half back. Then she broke that piece in half and put half back. He grabbed the larger of the halves.
“Here’s the reason why I’m not sure I wanna get one,” he said. “I don’t know what it means nowadays. Back when I was a kid, it meant that you were cool like Little Ricky Nelson. As a young teenager, it meant you were trying to be collegiate, like the Brothers Four and all those folk groups. Later on it meant you were in the military. Ten years after that it meant you were a white supremacist skinhead dickhead. Then at some point it meant you were a post-punk something or other. But now I don’t know what it means.”
“It means you’re bald.”
She kept chewing, he stopped chewing.
The food arrived.