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John Moning and Pat SpencerJohn Moning and Pat Spencer
Customer, 70, and Barber (who insists she’s 39)

JOHN: I moved to Dallas back in ‘61. I’m from Oakwood, a little Texas town. When I met Pat, she was dirt poor. Didn’t have nothin’ but a boot and a shoe.
PAT: Quit tellin’ that lie.
JOHN: A boot and shoe. When the heels got run down, she switched up and wore them on the wrong feet.
PAT: You a mess.
JOHN: She was a skinny thing. Had a skinny little French poodle, too. What was that dog’s name?
PAT: Cocoa.
JOHN: Cocoa. That dog wasn’t big enough to make a sandwich.
PAT: Just quit.
JOHN: What people want with a dog? I don’t need nothin’ that’s gonna sit down and watch me leave for work. Everything in my house that eats, works. But Pat don’t think that way ‘cause she don’t work much herself.
PAT: Say what?
JOHN: Don’t do nothin’ but sleep.
PAT: I work every day.
JOHN: That’s true. But how long you work? She’ll come in at eleven, take lunch at twelve, go home to nap, and don’t come back. Tell you what, Pat may leave work hungry, but she won’t leave tired. And I don’t know how she’ll leave this world, but I know hard work won’t kill her.
PAT: I ain’t studyin’ you.
JOHN: How long you been cuttin’ my hair? Since ‘77 . . . ‘78?
PAT: No, I didn’t even have my license in ‘78 . . .
JOHN: Oh, oh, oh! Now you shavin’ years off . . .
PAT: . . . so how could I be cuttin’ hair since ‘78?
JOHN: . . . shavin’ ‘em off like nappy hair.
PAT: ‘Sides, I ain’t but thirty-nine.
JOHN: Thirty what?
PAT: Thirty-nine.
JOHN: . . . Okay, Pat. Maybe you right. I was drinkin’ a lot of Crown Royal back then. Anyhow, I been gettin’ the same haircut most my life. Ain’t nothin’ changed but the price. Used to cost thirty-five cents. But back then a loaf of bread cost a nickel.
PAT: That’s right.
JOHN: How you know? You weren’t born yet. . . . You know, I used to didn’t believe in letting a woman cut my hair. Pat was the first. She gonna do it right, but she gonna do it her way . . . which is slow. Real slow.
PAT: That’s ‘cause I use scissors, not clippers.
JOHN: The difference between scissors and clippers is like the difference between a knife and a blender. You wouldn’t stick your head in a blender, would you? Pat’s old school. These here young barbers ain’t used scissors since kindergarten. But, look here, it’s gonna take her a while. If she charged by the hour, I’d be broke. . . . Pat, what ever happened to that dog?
PAT: Cocoa? Got old. Died.
JOHN: Oh. . . . But you ain’t aged a day. Thirty-nine and holdin’.

Excerpted from CUTTIN’ UP by Craig Marberry. Copyright 2005 by Craig Marberry. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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