Since 1977 I've had a marvelous relationship with a Salem woman. She was with me through the end of my first marriage after 18 years. She's stood by my side through the 24 years of my second marriage.
Heck, she I have spent more continuous time together than almost anybody else in my life. So it was bittersweet for us to hug and say our goodbyes today.
The occasion deserved a parting selfie.
Betsy Thelan has been cutting my hair since I moved to Salem 37 years ago. Now she and her husband are moving to central Oregon to live the good retired life in the Sunriver area.
Until recently Betsy ran the one-person Hair Headquarters shop on south Commercial.
She mostly cut men's hair, which is what attracted me to her in the first place. I recall her ad in the Yellow Pages (remember those?) focused on Men's Haircutting. "Sounds good," I thought. I'd get the atmosphere of a barber shop but would be in the scissor-wielding hands of a woman.
I really appreciated Betsy's reliability. This is hard to believe, but during the 37 years I made an appointment with her every 4 to 6 weeks, I only had to go once to another haircutter.
A fact I have repeatedly berated Betsy about, because it was traumatic for me to have my hair cut by someone else who I didn't know and trust. Hey, men can be creatures of habit. I've had the same hair style (if you can call it a "style") since I got out of college. Why mess with success?
That one time -- curse her! -- was when Betsy had the gall to take time off from cutting hair to have a baby. Geez, what a weenie excuse.
I've told her she should have woman'ed up and pushed out the kid in a nearby vacant lot, then gone right back to work, like, supposedly, Vietnamese rice paddy workers do. You should have had more compassion for your customers, girl! I'm still working through the trauma of once having to go to someone else for a haircut.
Of course, in four to six weeks I'll be reliving that scary experience. But Betsy kindly gave me the card of another woman haircutter who, she says, is super-competent. And has been cutting Betsy's own hair.
I'll survive. But I'll miss Betsy. A lot.
Thirty-seven years is a long time. We've shared a lot of stories, a lot of life events, a lot of gossiping, a lot of chit-chat. I know her family, as she knows mine. Not personally; through our conversing about our lives. I felt a tinge of sadness when I left Betsy's shop after getting my last haircut from her today.
Not so sad that I couldn't go to REI and buy some stuff during the outdoor store's 30% off Labor Day sale, though. (Betsy has been working part-time at a Keizer location for a while).
Life goes on. I'm sure my hair will be in good hands with a new haircutter. They just won't be Betsy's hands. And I'm happy that Betsy has finally grabbed the full-retirement gold ring. Moving to central Oregon has forced this.
Otherwise I suspect Betsy would have found it as hard to voluntarily stop cutting hair as I'm finding it hard to accept that she won't ever be cutting mine again. She was great as what she did, largely because Betsy was an excellent conversationalist. We never had trouble coming up with interesting stuff to talk about.
Thanks hugely for those thirty-seven years, Betsy. That's both my hair, and me, speaking.