Sooner or later everyone needs a haircut. —The Man Who Wasn’t There The note of longing that creeps into the voice of the woman who cuts my hair when she says “Oh, it was amazing”—she is speaking of the time she was twenty-one and went for a week-long cruise around the Virgin Islands on a friend’s sailboat— is so heartfelt, so hushed, so purely human that it makes me wonder what parts of the story she is leaving out, what she isn’t saying, which suspends itself, as the unsaid always does, like a shadow or aura over the words she has allowed herself to say. Meanwhile her scissors sing the snip snip snip of revision, and small seed-packets of my hair are drifting to the floor as if through humid forest air. As always I have let it grow too long and have come in looking like a middle-aged professor of philosophy who is trying to look a little like Roger Daltry, or if he’s lucky, Robert Plant; a gesture, perhaps, toward the life I get to live in the alternative plotline, the deleted scenes hidden in my life’s Special Edition DVD. * Desire is always a hazardous thing to reveal. That bold, slightly unfed look you direct without intending to toward a stranger you suddenly want—does she remind you of your mother, or your first girlfriend, or does she represent the possibility of an alternate life, one very much like this one in all the ways that matter, but deeper, more pure?—either risks breaking apart the social fabric, or else, if only we could see it, is the very glue that binds the social fabric together. Thread being, perhaps, in this context, a slightly more fitting metaphor than glue. * Never having been to the Virgin Islands, having been twenty-one, having experienced unfulfilled longing, never having been a woman, I am able partly, but only partly to imagine what she is feeling, as she herself, perhaps, is forced in large part to imagine the things her younger self used to feel— memory being, according to its very nature, fragmented and incomplete, edited very much in the way that film is put together: jump cuts, dissolves, montages, eyeline matching, flashbacks and flash-forwards, all to tell the story. Hence the tearstained and wistful delicious twin pleasures of imagining and remembering, the flickering beam of light emanating from somewhere behind you and the shadows it gives life to, the murmur of the huddled breathing bodies all around you, the encompassing dark that inhales and embraces, that exhales and resolves.