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Short back & sides for a year - then two by Thebarbered1
It was 1979, and Tommy was a typical tearaway 11 year old, living with his family in the English East Midlands. It was late spring and Tommy's 13 year old brother, Simon's birthday was just a couple of weeks away and his Mum and Dad were planning a surprise party for him as he was becoming a teenager. This particular day, his Mum had gone to check some of the chocolate and treats that they had been getting together for this, so she would know what else she needed to get, so they would have everything. On going to the pantry, she found a number of things she thought she'd bought before, largely sweets and confectionery were missing. She puzzled over it for a while, although she did have her suspicions. That evening, she mentioned it to her husband, Tommy's Dad, and he said he didn't know why they were missing. They couldn't mention it to Simon of course as he didn't know anything about it. When Tommy himself came in, they asked him if he'd taken anything from the pantry recently? He clearly looked worried, but said "errr. No. I haven't taken anything”. "Strange”, his Mum thought, but let it go, thinking maybe, just possibly, she had made a mistake.
A couple of days later, while they were at school, she was tidying up and vacuuming upstairs. She was in Tommy's room, and pushed the vacuum cleaner under Tommy's bed. As she pulled it out again, it had caught a large piece of wrapping paper which was sticking out of the bottom of it, it was packaging from the some of the sweets that had gone missing.
Later on, after Tommy had finished school and got home, his Mum met him at the front door. As he walked in, she said to him "Tommy, I need to ask you again, have you taken anything from the pantry recently?”. Without hesitation, he replied "no, I haven't”, adding "You asked me that the other day”. You could see the annoyance on her face, and she slowly produced from behind her back the wrapper that she'd found under his bed. He looked horrified. "Right, (she said) I'm going to speak to your father about this. It's not what this is. It's not very much. It's the fact you've lied about it. I'm going to discuss with him what the best sort of punishment for you will be". With her voice getting sharper, she finshed by saying "Now, go to your room and stay there until we call you down”. Tommy went upstairs, wondering what it would be "Being grounded for a week, the slipper, doing extra chores?”. After a short while, from his bedroom, he heard his Dad come in, and his Mum said to him in the hallway "Can you come into the lounge, I need to talk to you about something”. They went through and it went quiet. After a couple of hours, Tommy was summoned downstairs and into the lounge. "Right, we've decided on a suitable punishment for you, one that will hopefully teach you not to tell lies in future. We need to sort some things out, so we're not going to tell you what it is until tomorrow evening ”.
Tommy came home from school the next day, and when his Dad came in, he was summoned to the lounge again. His mother told him to sit down. She started.. "As I said yesterday, it's not what you took, that wasn't much at all. It's the sneaky way you did it, and the fact you lied about it, and your father and I will not tolerate lies. We're taking this very seriously indeed. We've discussed what punishment you should have, and decided that it needs to be something that will last a while. If you're going to tell lies like a little boy, we're going to treat you like a little boy" His Dad took over "Both you and Simon like your thick stylish longer hair don't you?”…. "Well, yes” Tommy replied hesitantly. "Well, you are going to have yours cut short, and it is going to be kept like that for one year” Tommy looked horrified. He loved his think brown hair. "We've arranged for you to go to Mr Morgans on Friday afternoon”. (Mr Morgans was a very traditional barber shop just a short distance up the road). "There, he's going to cut your hair short .... A proper short, back and sides I think, don't you?” he said turning to Tommy's Mum. She nodded in agreement. Again, Tommy looked horrified – more so when his Dad then said "We've arranged for you to go back there regularly – on the last Friday of every month for the next year to have it cut and kept short. Hopefully, by then , you'll have learnt your lesson, not to tell lies and be dishonest”. "Oh, and one final thing” his Mum then said, "Simon's of course going to wonder why this is happening, not knowing about his party, so, not to spoil it for him, you're going to tell him you're fed up with long hair and have decided you don't want to have it long anymore, and want to have it cut short". "Noooo” Tommy pleaded.. "You will do as you are told” his Dad said very sharply.
That evening, when they were all talking together. Tommy's Dad bought up the subject, and said "Hey, Tommy, you've decided you're fed up with your long hair aren't you? Getting it cut short, yes?”…. There was a short pause as they all turned to Tommy. He replied "Yes, I thought it'd make a change”. "Why?” Simon asked. "Just thought it'd be good” Tommy replied. "When are you doing it?” Simon asked. Tommy thought for a second, looked briefly at his Dad and said "errrr, Friday I think”.
Friday afternoon came, and Tommy got home from school. His Mum was waiting at the front door and on seeing him, said. "We've got to go out haven't we?”. Still in his school uniform, they then left to walk up the road to go to Mr Morgans. He pleaded with his Mum to not make him do this, but it was to no avail. Then, about half way, they met Simon walking the other way. His Mum greeted him. "Hi Simon, want to come with us? Tommy's going for his haircut”. Simon joined them and they continued walking up the road. Out of Simon's line of sight, and without his Mum noticing, he looked at her very angrily. "Are you really doing this Tommy?” Simon said as they continued walking along. Tommy looked at his Mum, then back at Simon, and nodded.
Eventually, they got to Mr Morgans. A bell tinkled as they opened the door. There were two chairs in there with mirrors facing them, haircut posters all around the walls displaying old haircut styles from the 1950's and 1960's, and on a shelf next to the chairs, there was a vast array of clippers, scissors, combs, brushes, and other haircutting items. The barber, which Tommy took to be Mr Morgan, was just finishing another customer, who was probably in his early 40's and having been given a really short tapered haircut. He'd just put down the clippers and as he started to comb the customer's hair to finish off, looked up and said "I'll be with you in a moment”. Finally, the customer was getting up, Mr Morgan brushed him down, he paid and left.
Mr Morgan was a well built man, in about his mid 50's. He was wearing a blue nylon barbers jacket. "Ahh, you must be Tommy? Welcome. Come up and take a seat” he said, gesturing him towards the barbers chair next to the window. Tommy slowly got up and, butterflies in his stomach, went and sat in the chair, staring straight ahead into the mirror in front of him. Mr Morgan picked up a white, pinstriped cape and shrouded it over him, and, wrapping a neck tissue around, clipped the cape into place.
"Right, what will it be Tommy?” he asked. Before he could say anything, his Mum spoke up… "We think it's getting too long..... a nice short, back and sides, don't you think Tommy?”. He nodded slowly. "Right you are" Mr Morgan said, as picked up a pair of clippers. Tommy heard a click as an attachment was added, and it burst into life. In the mirror, he could see Simon, sitting behind him, looking rather shocked, before Mr Morgan gently pushed his head forward, so he was bowed down. He felt the clippers mowing through his hair all up the back of his head. Suddenly, he felt a breeze across his neck. After that, he moved Tommy's head up again, and the clippers then went up the sides and around the top of his ears, exposing them for the first time in, what must have been a number of years. After a couple of minutes, the clippers fell silent, and he picked up some scissors and a comb and got to work on the top. Snippets of hair were raining down as it got shorter and shorter. Next to go was the fringe, which he descimated with just a couple of snips.. After that, Mr Morgan blended in the hair on top with the sides. Tommy noticed again in the mirror, Simon still watching. He grinned, trying his best to look happy, while inside, his stomach was churning. After changing the attachment, the clippers back came on again and, holding each of his ears down in turn, Mr Morgan then trimmed neatly around them before tapering gently up the back of his neck.
At this point, Tommy thought it was over, as Mr Morgan then loosened the cape at the back, and brushed him down, but he then clipped the cape back into place, and tucked in a large neck tissue at the back. After a few moments, Tommy felt lather being applied across the back of his neck below his newly acquired hairline and up towards his ears. Mr Morgan picked up a straight razor, shaved it up and then picked up a towel and cleaned up any remnants of lather left behind. He removed the large tissue and unclipped the back of the cape. Before removing it, he produced a hand mirror so Tommy could see the back. Seeing what he did, he felt all knotted up inside, but thought it best to smile and nod approval. "Looks very smart Tommy, What do you say?” his Mum called out. Tommy looked up to Mr Morgan and said "Thank you, it's nice”. "No problem at all young man” he replied.
Walking home, Simon said to Tommy "I'm amazed you want yout hair short like that, I thought you liked it as it was?”. There was a short pause as his Mum looked at Tommy. He replied, "Yh, I just thought it'd be good”. On getting home, Tommy ran upstairs into the bathroom, locked the door behind him, looked in the mirror, and cried his eyes out.
It was a harsh lesson, moreso the following week, when the big talking point at school was "Hey, Tommy's had his hair cut”. Most boys there had their hair the way he used to. There were a few boys, who's Mums and Dads always made them keep their hair short – Now, Tommy was one of them.
A month went by. It got to the Saturday morning. Tommy came downstairs. His Mum was waiting at the bottom, in the hallway. "You didn't go to see Mr Morgan yesterday did you?" Tommy replied that he hadn't. "Right (she continued), have your breakfast, get your jacket on. We'll go down there now” Tommy was I think, hoping they'd have forgotten about it. Far from it. After they'd got there, and Mr Morgan was once again shrouding that white, pinstriped cape over him, wrapping a neck tissue around, and clipping the cape into place, he said to Tommy "I was expecting you yesterday afternoon my lad?”. "Yes (his Mum stepped in and said), he was meant to be coming, but didn't. Because he didn't, can we extend his bookings for a haircut to the last Friday afternoon of every month for the next two years now?”. "Yes, of course you can. We'll keep him looking smart, don't you worry. I'll pencil him in when I've finished" he said, before asking " Right, what will it be this time?” "Same again, and the same each time he comes please” his Mum replied. Tommy looked mortified.
His taking that chocolate from the pantry and denying it had cost him very dear. Now, not going yesterday, had cost him even more dear, and he knew that he himself would be a teenager, the same age Simon is now, before he could possibly grow his hair again. For the second time in a month, and every month after that for the next two years, he emerged from Mr Morgans with that perfect and smart short, back and sides. It became accepted at his school, he was one of the small band of boys who were made to have their hair short by their parents.
Ironically, by the time he reached becoming a teenager, and was once again allowed a bit more discretion about how he wanted his hair, longer hair had fallen out of fashion a little - including at his school. He did let his hair grow a bit, but he didn't really let it grow back to the lengths it was before. Although he could have gone somewhere else, trips to Mr Morgans, now, much less daunting, did continue, albeit it only every 3 months or so, and particularly as his son was now working there as a barber too - however, the days of the thick stylish longer hair never really returned.