Staff writer Sam Schipani gives her boyfriend, Alexander Cole, a buzzcut in quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic.

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It has been a few weeks since Maine Governor Janet Mills ordered non-essential businesses to close in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In some ways, the order changed our lives immediately — no more going out to restaurants, grabbing a drink at the bar with friends or working up a sweat at the gym.

For other “non-essential” businesses, it took some time for us to realize how essential they actually were in our lives. For me, it took chronic ponytail migraines and my boyfriend, Alex, looking more and more like Albert Einstein each day to realize how much I missed our local hair salons and barbershops.

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About a week ago, as I gazed at my increasingly bedraggled reflection in the mirror, the idea of starting a makeshift home salon sounded more and more appealing.

Still, I pitched the idea of a quid-pro-quo haircut exchange to Alex with some trepidation. I had never used clippers before, and I was worried about irreparably crop circling Alex’s head. Though my engineer boyfriend has an attention to detail that rivals Michaelangelo when he wants it to, I also wouldn’t put it past him to get bored halfway through cutting my hair and leave me with some artsy asymmetrical haircut that I can’t pull off.

Then, late one Friday evening (and, admittedly, a few gin and tonics in), Alex and I were Zoom-ing with his twin brother, Jon, and Jon’s girlfriend, Sarah. The pair had just shaved Jon’s head and lauded the benefits. Jon felt lighter and more put together, and now looked more like an action star or a tech CEO than a software engineer who had been working from home for weeks. Plus, Sarah loved rubbing the scruffy top.

Never the twin to be stood up by his ever-so-slightly younger brother, Alex stripped off his shirt and rushed to the bathroom to grab his clippers and a towel.

“Shave it,” he commanded, to the uproar of Jonny and Sarah, who immediately began recording the event.

Alex showed me where to start, and that invisible line between beard and hair that falls somewhere in the middle of the ear. I nervously plugged in the clippers, switched them on and got to work.

There were some trials and tribulations at the start. Without any clipper experience, I, of course, started by using the wrong guard. Between that and my uneven strokes, Alex had long patches of hair instead of a clean shave. He felt the back of his head nervously a few times, then helped me switch the guard, demonstrated the amount of pressure I could use with the clippers (note: it was much more than the light graze I had been employing) and explained proper shaving technique so his head didn’t look like a haphazardly mowed lawn after all was said and done. Jonny and Sarah snacked on crackers and raptly watched as the drama unfolded.

Eventually, though, I got the hang of it. The one part I forgot until the end was the hair around the ears. I was so worried about cutting his fleshy little lobes that, as a result, his ears almost looked like they had bangs with the fringy hair left around them. I went back, now more confident with the clippers, and got the hairs that I had missed.

The buzzcut turned out surprisingly well. I had to clean it up a few times once I saw it in the light of the day (those aberrant tufts stand out much more when haloed by daylight). Otherwise, Alex’s buzzcut would even have Bruce Willis doing a double take — in my opinion as his personal stylist, anyway. Jonny and Sarah applauded my handiwork, and the twins toasted to their newly shaven skulls.

The next morning, Alex decided he wanted to return the favor by trimming my hair. We returned to our set-up, sans clippers (though, truth be told, I thought about joining the buzzcut club for a second). Already more meticulous than I, Alex decided to watch a video about proper hair trimming technique before he took up his shears. With bated breath, he pulled a chunk of hair taut between his fingers and snipped off about an inch.

“You have to cut more than that,” I insisted. “I mean, I shaved your head.”

Staff writer Sam Schipani had her boyfriend, Alexander Cole, cut her hair during the coronavirus quarantine.

Ultimately, he trimmed about two inches off my hair, and honestly, I was really impressed with his work. My trim was fairly even and did wonders in alleviating my hair-induced headaches. Without the added weight of my dead ends, my natural waves came back, too.

Staff writer Sam Schipani had her boyfriend, Alexander Cole, cut her hair during the coronavirus quarantine.

Alex and I aren’t the only ones who have taken the self-styling plunge. When I called the owner of The Noble Root, Aaron Curtis, to talk about tips for cutting hair in quarantine (after, I admit, we had already done so ourselves), he told me that he and his partner, James Riherd, have been fielding calls from clients about their own home haircut mishaps.

When I asked him when he recommended others to take the plunge in quarantine, he thought for a moment and imparted perhaps the wisest words I have heard in many weeks: “I would say time for a haircut when the salon’s open.”

He laughed, and then added, “If it’s affecting your daily routine, your daily day-to-day life, I would say maybe it’s time to make some adjustments.”

For Alex and I, I think necessity played almost as much of a role as boredom, but luckily the results were not catastrophic. Alex told me checking out his bald reflection in a shuttered store window on our daily walk that he might keep his hair like this for a while — at least, until the barbershop is open again.

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