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My Haircut Mentor by Snipped Sam
Looking back, my haircut fetish began for me big-time in my mid teens; I had always secretly liked short hair. Unlike the majority of boys my age, being sent to the barbers was an exciting adventure for me. Despite the protests required of a teenage boy trying to be grown up, the instructions to go to a specific barber known for his short back and sides' policy was secretly music to my ears. This was back in the mid 1970s, long hair was fashionable and short hair was not, having reached the grand age of fifteen I had bowed to peer pressure and persuaded the powers that be i.e. my Parents that I could have my hair longer provided it was kept tidy. Long hair was fashionable ,I had needed to be like everyone else, I had my blond hair over my collar and covering my ears .This aside I continued to make deliberate detours to walk past traditional barbers shops, looking them up in the telephone directory and if I went anywhere new, I would be on the lookout for a barbers. Anything and everything to do with barbers and short haircuts interested me. I fanaticized about joining the army and getting a compulsory short back and sides. My hair was now cut and styled by a young man called Neil, who I called Neil, although I wished he made me call him Mr Smith and was a bit stricter with me, like my previous barbers had been.
There was one particular Barbers shop that I was really fascinated by; I had never been there for a haircut, it was impossible to really see inside because there was a second door leading into the main barber's shop which had opaque glass. My chance to go inside eventually came because I had a newspaper delivery round for evening papers after school. The lady who owned to newsagents one day asked me if I could do her a favour and drop off some magazines that had been overlooked that morning. I knew the barber was called Mr Peterson from the name above the door. I felt quite excited when I got there and opened the second door to go in .Mr Peterson looked at me and smiled and thanked me for bringing the magazines, he asked me to put them table where the wait to have your haircut chairs were .He was just putting the finishing touches to a haircut of a boy a bit younger than me, it was a very short haircut, he must have gone to a different school to me as I did not know him. I remembered the days when I too went to the barbers for such a haircut. Mr Peterson asked me to thank Mrs Jones for sending the magazines and we said goodbye and I left.
I was very unsettled having now been inside Mr Peterson's barbers shop, one thing I really liked was that the second door meant privacy, the barbers itself was very traditional ,an antique looking barber's chair, dark wooden waiting chairs. I thought Mr Peterson seemed very nice as well, an older man, very smartly dressed, he was wearing a long grey barbers coat, his hair had receded and he wore spectacles .My hair was due to be cut the following week and as usual I went to Neil, I left feeling disappointed because I wished deep down I had gone to Mr Peterson instead. It was a few weeks later and I was purposely walking past his shop, it was very distinctive from the outside as there was a red and white pole beside the door, his name above the door and gents hairdresser over the window which had green and white check curtains. To my surprise Mr Peterson was standing outside talking to my next door neighbour, who looked like he had defiantly just had his haircut. Mr Turner was also about Mr Peterson's age, Mr Turner saw me and stopped me to speak to him and then he introduced me to Mr Peterson .He remembered me from when I took the magazines, but it was nice to be shaking his hand and being formally introduced .Mr Turner remarked that it was a shame that I was only just meeting Mr Peterson, he pointed to my hair and asked him what he would do with it. Mr Peterson said that given the opportunity of a free hand he would cut my hair short.
” sorry Chris, but that's what I would do "he said in a really nice but also firm way, part of me felt a bit awkward and in another way I liked this conversation. Mr Turner remarked that my hair looked so much better when I had it cut short. Mr Peterson asked him how short I used to have it, and he told him that it was a proper short back and sides, and I had always had the back cut very short with the clippers .Mr Peterson remarked that that was his speciality and he had to agree with Mr Turner that a nice short haircut would really suit me. Mr Turner laughed and said that he was certain that I did not think that short haircut and nice belonged in the same sentence. Mr Turner looked at his watch and announced that he must hurry or he would be late for his appointment. He said his goodbyes and left me standing with Mr Peterson who really seemed so tall, especially as I was quite short in height for my years. My heart was racing and I felt a little bit sick .here I was standing talking to the barber who I had day- dreamed about having a haircut from. I also felt rather awkward
"You look rather deep in thought, young Christopher "I smiled
” I expect you are thinking about what Mr. Turner and I said about your hair” to which I nodded
"We are of an older generation Chris; we have very different views to a lad your age, times are changing but of course Mr Turner and I don't think everything is for the better”
"Probably not everything is Mr Peterson”
"Well Chris I have been giving lads your age, very smart, short haircuts for nearly forty years and I am not going to change my views now”
"I respect that Mr Peterson "we carried on chatting for a couple of minutes, then an elderly gentleman arrived to have his haircut so I left them and carried on into town.
A few days later I saw Mr Turner, he asked me how I was, was I enjoying the school summer holiday? Back to school next week he remarked, he said that he remembered well taking his sons for a back to school haircut before the start of the new school year. He then said that he expected that's what I would be having soon. I replied that yes I would be before the end of the week. He then spoke about Mr Peterson and how he had seen him at the bowls club, Mr Peterson had said what a nice lad I was and he felt perhaps I was a little unsure about the length of my hair. I admitted to Mr. Turner that maybe I was a bit unsure, but also that I wanted to be like the other boys at school and have my hair longer. H remarked that it was such a shame that I felt the need to grow my hair longer, and I told him that it was so much easier when I was sent to the barbers. He asked me what I was doing right now, to which I replied nothing special.
"I wouldn't quite say that Master Christopher. You have grown your hair long to be like some of the other boys at your school, you've had it this length for a good while now, but now the time has come for you to have a trip to the barbers. We are going to take a little stroll to see Mr Peterson”
No Time was wasted a little stroll was actually a rather brisk march to Mr. Petersons , the first door was open and my heart was racing as I followed Mr Turner through the second door. Mr Peterson was sitting down reading a newspaper which he folded and placed on the chair next to him. Mr Turner put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to worry. There was the regular barber's chair which looked very old, a much taller chair for younger boys and I naturally assumed I was going in the men's chair. To my surprise Mr Peterson produced a medium height wooden chair from the corner ,about the height of a bar stool, he placed it so if I sat in it I would be facing the waiting chairs in the barbers shop and not the mirror like I would if I was in the man's chair. He explained that as I wasn't a tall lad he was going to cut my hair with me sitting in that chair because it was better that I was not looking at myself in the mirror. It was best to keep me from being distracted during the haircut. I was actually rather excited by the idea of my hair being cut without me seeing myself in the mirror, I sat in the chair and Mr Turner sat in the chair directly opposite, it seemed strange sitting in a chair to have my haircut with my feet not touching the floor. When he fitted the cape it felt really good, it was really long and covered my feet. He combed my hair, he said that he thought we all knew what was going to be done but he was going to ask Mr Turner for his decision as he had been kind enough to bring me.
"Indeed I have been kind enough to bring young Christopher; so I think a jolly good short back and sides is called for.”
Mr Peterson began cutting my hair, his scissors were very long steel scissors, the first thing he did was cut the hair that had covered my ears either side. The sound of the scissors snipping was very crisp and loud, Mr. Turner glanced at the front cover of a newspaper, but looked up from it regularly to look at me in the barber's chair, he was closely monitoring the progress of my haircut and keeping an eye on me. But there, I was on my best behaviour, being a polite young man and doing as I was told, like any boy should when he's taken to the barbers. In one way it would have been good to see how my hair was looking, but it was also bit of a thrill to know that I was going to be the last one to see my finished haircut. Mr Turner would be approving it first, I wondered what he would say, whilst I was pondering on this Mr Peterson asked him if he was happy with amount of hair left on the top of my head or would he like a little more off. "a little more off I think” was the reply. Although Mr Turner was my next door neighbour, the role of a father taking his son for his haircut was now fully in place. Shortly after a man in his late thirties came in, he clearly knew Mr Peterson well and made himself comfortable in one of the waiting chairs .Mr Turner told him that he was after me, and that he was not having a haircut himself. This coincided with Mr Peterson asking Mr Turner if he was happy with the hair on the top of my head. He replied that having that bit extra off made all the difference, I did now feel more self conscious with an audience especially with me sat facing them and Mr Turner giving the instructions to the barber. I could hear Mr Peterson moving about behind me and I knew he was changing the blade on the clippers by the noise.
"Right young Chris, it's time for you to bend your head right down for me” I bent my head down
"I need it further down than that Chris”
"Do as you are told Chris; get your head into position for Mr Peterson” Mr Turner commanded
"Now that's much better, and make sure your head stays still for me”
The clippers were switched on, the gentle hum sound got closer, I felt the cold metal touch the back of my head and they began their journey up the back of my head. It really was a nice warm feeling, the clippers gently purred as they made my hair really short. I knew that Mr Turner and the other man would be watching the barber in action. Whilst this was happening the man asked Mr Turner that if all the hair on the floor had come off my head as it looked to be the same colour. Mr Turner confirmed that it was and the man commented that it was hard to believe that all that hair was from one boys haircut .Mr Turner advised him that I had had a stage of growing my hair longer to be like other boys, but he had been given the job of ensuring my return to having my hair short. He explained that because I had a very important school year head of me, I would now be having regular trips to the barbers. They continued to discuss this as Mr Peterson had now moved his attention to the remaining hair above and round my ears. The man agreed with Mr Turner that it was defiantly a good idea to have me facing away from the mirror, stop me from being distracted and worrying about what was happening. .Eventually the clipping stopped, and the loose hairs were brushed away, my head remained down. Mr Turner was invited to step forward and inspect the haircut; Mr Peterson said that he would look him to have a look at the sides to see what he thought. Mr Turner stepped forward.
"Yes the back looks excellent, and I like how you have arched above his ears, I see you allowed him some little sideboards,”
"That's what I was going to ask you what you thought”
"Yes I think he can keep them,... but don't get too used to them Chris, I shall very likely have them removed on your next visit”
"Would you like anything on his hair, perhaps a little hair cream or some spray?”
"Perhaps some hair spray”
My head was lifted up and my hair was sprayed and them my neck was dusted with powder, Mr Turner remained by the chair, as the cape was removed and I was told to step down from the chair. Mr Peterson brushed me down with the clothes brush and Mr Turner then paid for my haircut, at this point I had been told to stand where I was and had still not looked in the mirror. Mr Turner announced proudly that he had promised my father, he could get my hair short again, and that it was agreed ,if he succeeded he would be in charge of my haircuts from now on, "I have indeed succeeded with the help of a first class barber”, he said really pleased with himself". He opened his diary and pencilled something in
"I have made a note in my diary, for three weeks today, it says : taking Chris to the barbers, after school, so Christopher make sure you don't get detention that day”
A new dawn had begun, he took on his new role with enthusiasm and I have had my hair short ever since. We stayed in touch for many years with me visiting him regularly until he died, which was when I was thirty. Even in my twenties he would comment that I needed a trip to the barbers, this of course had nothing to do with the fact I visited him when I was due for a hair. I would return to him an hour or so later well barbered for his approval.