I'm sitting in the Snip and Clip Hair Emporium, a fancy name for a "beauty parlor." I’m waiting my turn for a haircut. It’s weird, sitting in the midst of women who can both talk and hear at the same time. 

Times have changed. Everything is unisex now. Old stigmas are gone. Men are women, women are men. Like men, women have short hair, long hair, and no hair. Everyone here has a tattoo. Who can make sense of it anymore? 

The women eye me suspiciously, or lustily. Who knows what women think? The subject of today is about falling in love. Being the lone male, I keep my opinions to myself. It’s foolish to engage a bunch of women in such places. Especially those who pay big money in hopes of finding, or keeping, love affairs hot and torrid.  

The subject of love reminds me of S. J. Lec’s comment, “The dying fire of enthusiasm should leave ashes to provide disguising makeup for our faces.” I keep the quote to myself.  

Soon, it’s my turn. As she snips my hair, it falls, sliding down the black silk robe to the floor. It mingles with other hair clippings. It reminds me of a visit to the New York Stock Exchange when it was a paper world. Slips of pink paper, like so much hair and confetti, lie strewn in profusion throughout the floor. Traders walk on it, oblivious to each slip’s past significance. Old news, old loves, they say. Some love good, some gone bad, but all past ashes of love.  

I listen to the women carry on about love, how to find it, how to keep it hot. I want to tell them fried blonde hair won’t do the job. But I’m outnumbered. Old loves come into my mind. How many were there? Too many to count.

My first love was my bicycle. Like all loves, it’s a means of escape. The affair lasted until I was 13. A motor scooter replaced it. Boys are fickle … no loyalty to old lovers. The bike rusted. Life moved on. Ashes of love. 

I fell in love with music. I had every Elvis 45 rpm record, not to mention Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley. I lay awake at night, straining to hear snippets of WLAC, Nashville, or WCKY, Cincinnati. One can lose lots of sleep when in love. Music is a great lover, but it’s as capricious as the listener. Songs wear out, lose their fire. Ashes of love.  

In 7th grade, I fell in love with my second cousin ten times removed. At that genetic distance, it seemed safe. Blue eyes, and some crossed eyes, ran prominently in our family. The entire town showed up at our family reunions. Who would notice, I thought? 

Alas, in 8th grade she was hustled off to a "finishing" school for girls, which finished that romance. All that remained were love letters. I learned an important lesson from that experience … never take chances with ink, even at 13. I burned the letters. Ashes of love are ageless. 

I have fallen in love often … with dogs, boots, backpacks, cars, guns, airplanes, and fishing, just to name a few. But sooner or later they all get old, like lovers do. I ruthlessly discarded them without remorse, waiting for another one to show up. It always does. Inanimate divorces are cheap. Ashes of love litter my past.   

Some fall in love with sports, like golf, or running. Loves of athletic origins are often bitter-sweet affairs but can turn on you quickly. Such ashes of love keep orthopedic surgeons smiling.

It’s risky to fall in love. Like dreams, love often evaporates into illusions, then remorse when the novelty wears off.  Relationships, human or otherwise, often have a short shelf-life. We live for the next new thing.   

Suddenly, I’m jolted back into the present.  

“Mister, what’s your opinion of keeping love hot and burning?” a woman asks. Be careful, I think, this is a trap. I just shake my head and shrug. 

Somewhere in the back seat of my youth I hear Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty singing, “Love is where you find it, when you find no love at home; and there’s nothing cold as ashes, after the fire is gone.”  

I look at my haircut in the mirror.  I smile and say aloud to myself, “You handsome devil.” Some loves never die.