A Poem: Autistic Haircut

S. Scott Sanderson

By S. Scott Sanderson

Arrive right on time, punctual am I.
Standing in the doorway, I scan the room. A lady behind the counter smiles, no one else is there.
Feeling somewhat at ease, up to the counter I walk. I have seen this lady before—probably the manager. There is a look in her eyes that says that she knows me too

“I have an appointment at 2, with Bernice”
“What is your phone number?” She asks.

The lady behind the counter finds it on her computer, and prints out a ticket.
“Bernice is ready. Just go on back” She says smiling. I wave back.

I always make appointments over the phone. There is less anxiety than if I came unannounced. Also, I can request the same person. She is an older woman who, at times seems weary and unhappy to be there. Yet, she does a good job, and we know each other.

Still, there is anxiety. I do not like to be touched.
Must remain calm. Think of cities that begin with the letter B.


Bernice is ready. I watch as she shakes out the cloth covering that makes me feel like I am wearing a giant bib. She waves me over. I wave back.

Bowling Green,

“Get in that seat,”

I know that she will want to wet my hair. It sometimes scalds. Reluctantly I lean back against the sink, just wanting to get it over with. Once settled in, I close my eyes.

Burlington (the one in Vermont)
Burlington (the one in New York)

“No. . . I have to put the towel underneath” She spoke with a thick accent

“I guess I was rushing things” I replied, before going back to my geographical list.


I sit up. She tucks the towel around my neck. I tilt back, as her fingers are massaging my scalp.
Nice cool water. I try to drift off

Nothing. . . I traverse the country, looking for cities with a B
I focus on Texas. It is a big state, surely there must be something

“Ok, “she says.

I push myself out. She motions me to her barber chair, in the corner.
I know the routine. I take off my glasses, set them on the table and sit in the chair.
She puts a black apron on me. Then she begins cutting.

Gotta think of a B city . . . Biloxi. That is close to Texas
Beaumont. Yes, Beaumont, near the Louisiana border. That is in Texas
I smile. She doesn’t know why. I solved a problem. I found a B city in Texas.
I probe my mind, to think of any other

Brazos River. . . “Across the Brazos at Waco, Ride hard and you’ll get their by dawn” . I know that’s a line in a old western cowboy song. In my head, I place a squiggly line on an imaginary map of Texas:

The Brazos River.

She continues working. My eyes remain closed.


My mind has gone blank. .

I open my eyes. She is about done.
“Yes, The haircut looks fine”, I say as she hands me a mirror.
She asks about my eyelashes. I don’t quite hear her, but close my eyes anyway. Scissors run across the lashes, the fine hairs tickle. I stay calm telling myself that this’ll only take a moment.

Beverly Hills

She is finished. I stand up. The whisk broom sweeps away the loose hair on my back. I look at the big mirror in front of her chair. It looks neat and professional.

I grab the receipt and head to the lady behind the counter.

S. Scott Sanderson

I grew up in Kentucky, proud to be a country boy from Appalachia. Now married and living in the sunshine of Florida with my wife and dog (queen of the house). I am a scholar with advanced degrees in Geography and Religion. My inspiration comes from the beauty and uniqueness in the world around me.

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