The Last Page

Let’s All Do The Twist

In 2005, Dan Bucatinsky ’87 and his partner, Don Roos, found themselves in a Los Angeles hospital room nervously awaiting the birth of their adopted baby girl. The adventure had just begun. Now they have not just one but two children, who test them in hilarious and touching ways. Bucatinsky writes about their adventures in fatherhood in the book Does this Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad.

I’m in the kitchen with Eliza and she’s playing a pinball game on my iPad to distract her as I comb out the knots she accrued in her bed last night. 

“Oww,” she screams every three or four minutes, “Daddy, stop!” I hate how it hurts her but also enjoy this time with her each morning. When we’re not in a hurry it can actually be quiet and intimate, my left hand on her head, the other moving slowly through the strands of hair.

I hear Don coming down the stairs. I’d better hurry. Because Don loves doing our daughter’s hair even more than I do and is likely to rip the comb from my hand. He’s a master of the combing and I tend to be the style guy. But I’ve hijacked the comb this morning and pray I’ve gotten away with it. I pull the sides of her hair together in the back and start braiding it. 

“Looks cute,” Don says. He means it. But there’s also a look in his eye that says: “Lucky bitch, how’d you get to her before I did?!” Don dips a comb in some water and starts working it through our son’s hair. Jonah’s is short. He’s a boy. So he’s done in about four seconds. I pretend not to gloat that I got to Eliza before he did. He pretends not to care. But he does. And I do. Way too much.

What is it about gay men and doing hair? Yes, it’s a cliché and a stereotype, which means there’s truth in it. But I would no sooner allow myself to be defined simply by my proclivity for liking a cute hairstyle than my proclivity to sleep with a man. They are among many truths about myself that I’m happy to own rather than deny. Among all the other reasons we were happy to be having a girl, we also knew we’d get to realize a childhood dream: long, silky hair of our very own to brush!

When I was a kid, I used to put my footie pajamas on my head and pretend to have a mane, golden hair cascading down my back. I’d flip it with my hand the way I saw Cher doing on her variety show. My laid back, hippie parents tried to take the Free-to-Be-You-and-Me approach and allowed me to dance around the house flipping my “hair” this way and that—but I could tell they were embarrassed when they had company over and I’d offer to let them give me a comb out. Don once told his Irish Catholic mother he wanted to be a hairdresser when he got older and she promptly explained how his only chance of getting older would be to never mention such a ridiculous idea again. But that didn’t stop him from wishing he had a head of princess hair he could style for his very own. That and a deluxe, Julie Andrews scrapbook. A guy’s got to dream, huh?

So. We’re gay dads. And we like doing our daughter’s hair. There are worse things fathers could do. Right? Well. For Don it actually may be the worst thing he could do. The other day, I discovered him snipping away at Eliza’s bangs with a pair of pruning shears. Or was it a nail clipper? It may as well have been a butter knife! But he seemed so happy—playing Beauty Shop with his daughter. So I picked my eyeballs off the floor and placed them back in my head and went about my business. 

“What do you think?” he asked. Brave of him to ask my opinion. I averted my eyes as long as humanly possible and finally allowed them to find their way to my daughter’s head. There it was—like the toothy grin of a Jack-O-Lantern or a row of piano keys, alternating long and short, resting on her forehead like a tattered dust ruffle.

“It’ll grow back,” I said less for his benefit than my own.

“Maybe you can take her in to have it cleaned up,” he suggested. I was glad it was his idea rather than mine. I nodded. We’re here and queer, loud and proud, but we also possess eyes and the good sense to know when to admit defeat and turn our daughter’s hair, our playground, over to an actual hairdresser—probably a gay one. Please God, a gay one. We are the best at it, after all.

Dan Bucatinsky ’87

Dan Bucatinsky ’87 is an actor, writer, and producer. He wrote and starred in the independent film All Over the Guy. He and Lisa Kudrow ’85 cofounded Is Or Isn’t Entertainment in 2003. Their credits include the cult HBO comedy The Comeback, NBC’s docu-series Who Do You Think You Are?, and their groundbreaking web-to-TV series Web Therapy, now on Showtime. He lives with his husband and their two kids in California.

Excerpted from Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? by Dan Bucatinsky. Copyright © 2012 by Myrio, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Touchstone Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Read more about Bucatinsky’s book.