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Oscar's I.O.U. by Manny



It was always an unexpected treat when a new client would push the door of my shop open, especially when he sported an overgrown thatch of glossy locks that needed an aggressive pruning. The very best scenario of all, however, was when the moptop appeared to be an unhappy teen being escorted into the shop by a put-out father or male authority figure of some sort.

Today's treat hit all the high notes and more -- the shag was in one of those obnoxious girly boy band looks with hair falling all over the face and barely a hint of eyes or even nose in sight. And the father was in an impeccable business suit with his full executive style swept back in some expensive elegant coif.

The boy sported the insignia of a nearby elite college prep school. Oddly, it was about 10:30 a.m. and school was certainly in session. Not the usual time for school boys to be getting haircuts. My curiosity was peaked.

"Here for a haircut?" I asked, rising from the chair where I was resting, waiting for my first client of the day. I loved stating the obvious!

"He is," the man said, nudging his lad towards the big barber chair.

"For a trim," the boy said defiantly, resisting his move to the chair before that tidbit was acknowledged.

"He needs the hair trimmed out of his eyes. That's what the principal said. Dress code violation. If he'd have handed me the note on Friday informing of this little school transgression, we could have dealt with this issue over the weekend. But, no, he 'forgot' to give it to me. And so, this morning, I was summoned away from the board meeting to dealt with Brock here," the father snipped.

"Okay, I forgot. How many times do I have to say that?" Brock snapped back.

"Take a seat. I can have this matter resolved in just a few minutes," I said.

"Good!" exclaimed the father as he pulled out his iPhone and sat in the waiting area. "I'd like to get back to the office sooner rather than later. We were fortunate to find an open barbershop so close to his school"

Brock dragged his feet a bit, but finally was seated in the chair. I could feel the tension rippling through his body as the cape was fastened into place. I began wetting down his hair in front with the spritzer of water. Oh, my! Those bangs were long and heavy! Wet, they fell all the way to his lip. Dear Brock was going to be in for a bit of a rude awakening to the fact that a barber shop was no salon....especially when the proprietor was an authoritative, take-charge type of barber!

"Just a trim," Brock reminded as I snapped my shears open and shut a few times.

"Of course," I replied, easing his nerves a bit. "Above the eyes, so you can see the board, right?" I combed through the long wet strands yet, marking my pray.

Obviously, what the lad had in mind was just above the eyeball, and well below the brow. But that length was a non-starter. The long bangs would be snipped off quickly, above the brow. But how far up? How short did I dare cut them?

My first impulse was to cut the bangs a full inch above the top of the brow. That would send a good three inches to the cape. However, as the shears came up towards the heavy damp hair, I got bold. This would certainly be a one-off visit. I wouldn't see dear Brock again. In a daring thrust, i plunged the blades half way up the forehead and the first chop sent down four inches of cut hair!

The site was wonderful. The lad gasped. The father looked up from his phone.

"I said 'trim'!" he protested futilely.

Snip, snip, snip. The shears would not be deterred. Cut hair quickly filled the front of the cape. The lads short bangs looked ridiculous!

"If you hadn't squirmed, I wouldn't have cut them so short," I said tersely, knowing full well he had not squirmed. In fact, poor Brock had sat gripping the arm rests, frozen in fear.

"I didn't....." he began to whine.

"And now, I see that they are a bit crooked, meaning I need to trim them a bit shorter," I said with a no-nonsense tone, snapping the shears open and shut in a threatening way.

"They are fine like this," Brock protested.

"I can't have you leaving here without nice, straight bangs," I said. And then I began lopping off another inch. Snip, snip, snip! Brock watched with the most miserable look on his face. His bangs were now VERY short. Almost to the top of his forehead.

I addressed the father, "Now that we have him here, perhaps the back is in need of a bit of a trim as well."

The father tried to disguise his smirk, seeing how short Brock's bangs had been cut. "Yes, perhaps a trim behind like you did on the bangs. And the sides too. Brock's hair has gotten so long of late."

I reached for the clippers.

"It was just the bangs that were out of the dress code," Brock protested.

I pushed his head forward firmly and snapped on my powerful, fast-feed Oster hair clippers.

"Please don't squirm again, or you might end up with a very short....." I drove the clippers up through the nape, tightly to the level of the occipital bone before easing away from the scull, leaving a very tight taper in the back. The swath of white scalp alarmed even me. "You did it again, Brock. And now we have no alternative but to give you a short taper around the ears and up the sides and back."

"Dad!" Brock whined. "I don't want a short taper!"

Mounds of hair were cascading to the cape and floor as I continued with the Oster's, clipping his thick mange down into a very short, tidy taper.

His father looked on with concealed glee while Brock watched on with a total lack of amusement. I tapered the sides and peeled off the hair from his ears with dogged determination. The moptop was quickly giving way to a 1950's short-back-and-sides with a lovely set of arches around the ears.

"I'm going to look like a total dork by the time I leave here," Brock muttered.

"Your principal will certainly approve when I take you back there to pass his inspection," the father said with a light-hearted tone.

I eyed the older man's thick, well-coiffed mane. Obviously he spent a lot of time with the blow dryer in the morning, and possibly finished off his beauty routine with a light coating of hair spray. Father and son both shared the same type of dark, shiny hair that was full of body.

I applied a huge dollop of talcum powder into my duster and then whisked it about Brock's ears and face. "There, you're all finished, son," I commented with a satisfied tone. "Much better!"

I enjoyed complimenting my own work.

He stumbled off the chair's footrest in a bit of a daze, feeling the short taper in back.

His father stood, meaning to pay, but I motioned to the chair. "Okay, sir, your turn. Take a seat there. Brock is in no hurry to rush back to class, I bet."

"No, sir," he said respectfully.

"And you are quite in need of a decent haircut. So, take a seat and stop dawdling," I said in a rather snippy voice.

"We really came here this morning only with the intent of Brock getting a haircut," the father began to explain nervously.

"But since you're here, there's no harm in taking advantage of the situation," I said tapping the chair impatiently. I could not wait to plunge my clippers into the coif and take him down tight!

"Go ahead, Dad," Brock urged. "I saw the principal eyeing you hair with a certain level of disapproval when he had you in there complaining about me."

"That settles it. The principal wants you to set the example for Brock with a nice, decent haircut. Uh, what's your name, sir?" I insisted.

"Oscar," he gulped, staring at himself in the mirror.

Obediently, without another word, he took a seat.

I snapped the cape with a bit of a fury, examining the man's fussy executive cut. He was not going to leave with that full mane. In fact, as I fastened the cape, my plans for him kept getting more strict. At first, I thought that a haircut similar to Brock's would suit him. But, then, as I ran a comb through it and had it get snagged in the dense locks coated with hair spray, I became more convinced that I short military cut would be best for him. Possibly a flattop. Or, better yet, a high and tight! Then I finalized my plan -- Sides and back lather shaved down to the skin and a very small patch of hair left on top!

The man looked miserable under the cape -- just like his son had looked minutes before.

"Just a trim," he said lamely, knowing full well that was not an option!

But, I humored him. "Of course, just a trim....." My voice trailed away as a swiveled the chair away from the mirror. I swapped out the blade and secured a #1 into place. Then, I grasped the hair behind with my free hand and briefly savored the silken feel. '

I could not help myself! In a flash, I brought the clippers up to Oscar's forehead and unleashed the metal teeth. The poor man was moments away from a severe butch!

The joy of watching the expensive salon coif fall to my clippers reminded me why I'd taken up barbering myself.

"Will your principal approve of a nice, tight baldy cut on your father, Brock?" I asked.

Poor Oscar's lip quivered. His face was etched in misery as he watched his pampered hair fall away down past his eyes. He would return to his corporate world quite different. Insecure and feeling quite possibly ashamed of his baldy cut.

"Sit still, Oscar!" I snapped as he squirmed to try to dodge the clippers that had already inflicted irreversible damage on the executive look. I couldn't wait to see you the amateur butch looked with the expensive, dark, conservative business suit!

"Now, this is what I call I real haircut! What do you think, Oscar?" I said as I whirled the chair back around to reveal his new, streamlined look.

Oscar's lip twitched. His eyes swelled up with tears. He gulped nervously. "It's very short," he finally eeked out.

I stroked the stubble, which was all that remained of his thick stylized mane.

"Yes, it is! Just the way that suits you," I said. "Don't you agree, Brock?"

"He looks like an idiot!" the boy cackled.

I withdrew the cape. Oscar stood and shifted nervously on his feet looking at himself in the mirror. "How much do I owe you for the haircuts, sir?"

"$25 for the two -- $12 for your butch and $13 for Brock's standard boy's haircut."

He handed me an executive platinum American Express card.

"Cash only, Oscar. See the sign above the register there?" I said impatiently.

"But I don't carry cash any more," he stammered.

"Well, pay me on your next visit for four haircuts -- an I.O.U. You will be bringing Brock back in two weeks, I hope!" I said firmly.

"Yes, sir, I will...." said Oscar as he felt his butch for the first time and smiled shyly. "You did a nice job on both of us....."



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