My mom caught me lugging the 50 pound, 25-year-old red vacuum up the garage stairs.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Getting this vacuum,” I said.

“Why? What are you cleaning?”

“Well, I, um . . .”

“Are you gonna use the Flowbee?”

I looked away, avoiding her eyes. “. . . Maybe.” There was no use denying it.

“You and your dad. I just don’t understand it. I would never use that thing.”

“I figured it has to do a better job than I do when I just use scissors.”

I’d gotten the itch for a haircut on Thursday night on our way home from the hospital. Sitting there in the backseat, watching the cars and lights, I started playing with my hair: lifting the longer sections up with my fingers, figuring out how much to cut off where. The more and longer we drove, the more and longer I despised my hair. It had to go. Right away.

When we stopped at a shopping center to pick up subs at Jerry’s, I ran into Giant to pick up some Revlon Hairstyling Shears. I knew they would become necessary in a few hours time. I knew that if I didn’t get some actual hairstyling shears, I would wind up using some random office scissors. It’s happened before, and (let me tell you) the results were not desirable. Office scissors do not cut hair cleanly.

So come midnight-ish Thursday night I was cutting my hair over the sink of Matt and Kristina’s basement bathroom. Trouble being this: I was exhausted. But I wanted my hair to be shorter. Actually, the mood I was in, I wanted the hair to be gone. If I’d a had some hair clippers, I would’ve been alright with buzzing it all off, disregarding all the fears that have stopped me from making this move in moments past (except of course for that one time when Michael cut my hair for me during freshman year). But I had no clippers, so I had to use scissors. The hair cut took forever, and the hair cut was not the best. Definitely not the worst ever, but that’s not saying much. I’ve given myself some pretty bad haircuts.

I resigned myself to the degree of badness, and I went to bed.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I remembered the Flowbee.

My dad used to Flowbee his hair. We, his loving family, always thought it was very strange, and so we always made fun of him for it (Just do a Google image search for “Flowbee,” and you’ll understand why.) But he was a firm believer in the system.

This testimonial from heaps on the praise:

“With the Flowbee Precision Haircutting System, you get professional hairstyling results in the convenience of your own home. In fact the system is so simple and precise, you can give yourself a perfect cut . . . even with your eyes closed!

“In the same fashion that hairdressers pull the hair up between their fingertips to give a layered scissors cut, the Flowbee uses the suction power of your household vacuum to draw the hair up to the desired length, and then gives it a perfect cut . . . every time.”

It sounds like a good enough idea.

But when you move beyond the idea stage and you find yourself standing in your bathroom, vacuum roaring, clippers humming, as you use a rocking motion, up and down, to suck your hair into this plastic tube where it’s chopped off and sucked away—it becomes a bit ridiculous.

I felt like I was stuck in a bad infomercial from the eighties. All my mind’s eye could picture was the swift ease of the suction of all their fluffy fros. Man fros. Woman fros. Children fros. All sucked shorter with swift Flowbee ease. My short spiky new millenium hair had a bit more trouble in the Flowbee’s plastic chopping chamber. I practiced my up/down rocking motion and hoped I hadn’t made some kind of regretful mistake.

Turns out the Flowbee works pretty well. My hair hasn’t been this uniformly the same length in a year at least. Which gives Flowbee a notch above self-scissor hair cutting. But, admittedly, Flowbee doesn’t compare to an actual haircut from a trained professional.

Unless of course you’re getting an actual haircut from a trained Flowbee professional. That must be the best of both. They prolly use industrial strength vacuums. You know, the kind not available to ordinary consumers. Just think of the Flowbee suction power possibilities. I’ll have to check out the Yellow Pages for Flowbee salons in Lincoln.


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6 Comments on "Flowbee"

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Ben, that’s hilarious. Great word pictures!


yay! semi-regular posting! is this to be a more common thing once again?

no rush, but are you ever coming back? (stay as long as you need–just want you to know you’re missed is all)


i had a dream with a flowbee in it last night because of your post.


i’m not sure you’ll catch this comment, and it’s been so long since the dream i can’t really remember it. as i recall, someone was just using it and i probably thought, there’s someone cutting his hair with a flowbee. weird.

but then there was wild music and flames started shooting out of the vacuum and there were tiny hair cuttings all over everything. they were coming alive and poking everyone’s eyes out and there was screaming in fear as well as laughter because they kind of tickled too.


it’s nice to know that i’m not the only one in the family, that gets sick of my hair and cut it myself. I don’t have a Flowbee but it turns out well. and i have fun doing it, even at 2am.