Graham's Story by Gator
I am not the writer of this story. I found it on the archived story site on Wayback Machine.
Graham's Story By Graham
As I stood outside of Julie’s house I wondered just what she would say about my new haircut. It was short, real marine short. Oh God, would she still like me now my pomp and DA were lying on the barbershop floor? Julie just loved running her fingers through my Brylcreemed hair. Too late now – not much left to Brylcreem.
I woke up that morning after a sleepless night just knowing the hair had to go, but also I knew I didn’t really want to lose it. Internally I was fighting with myself about getting the haircut. As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror shaving away the dark stubble on my face and looking at my slick black hair, I wondered if I it was the right thing to do, but I knew I had to do it – I just had to. So, standing there in my white boxer shorts, I squeezed a generous shot of Brylcreem into the palm of my hand and rubbed it through my thick black hair. I gave my gleaming locks one final good comb through and styled them in the best pomp and DA I could get. I held a hand to the side of my head to see what I would look like with the sideburns gone. Again and again I combed each and every hair into place as if to wish each strand a fond farewell.
Staring into the bathroom mirror, I heard Mom shout that breakfast was ready. I put on a white T-shirt and freshly pressed pants, checked my hair again in the mirror and went down. As usual Pop was sitting at the table reading his paper and eating breakfast. I greeted Mom and Pop. He just looked over the paper and said, ‘When are you going to get a decent haircut?’ Nothing new there – same greeting as always.
‘Soon Pop, soon,’ I replied.
‘Good, ‘cos if it gets any longer you’ll have to wear a sign so that the neighbors will know you’re not a girl, ya freak!’ the same phrase that Pop came out with at regular intervals.
I walked into town as I went past each window I checked my look in the glass. Was I doing the right thing? What would Julie think? Soon I was at Sam’s. I hadn’t been to Sam’s for years but I knew he was the right barber this time. It was the same barber my Pop used to bring me to when I was a kid and the one he still uses. As I opened the door the smell of stale hair oil and tobacco greeted me. Sam was reading the paper in the one chair, a cigarette held between his lips. He stood up and dusted the black vinyl and chrome chair with his newspaper. I stood in the middle of the barbershop as if I could not walk across the black-and-white tiled floor.
‘Well kid what do you want?’ asked Sam without removing the cigarette.
‘I want a haircut,’ I said.
‘I can see that,’ he replied. ‘Well you don’t expect me to cut it over there do you? Get in the chair!’
I did as instructed. As I sat, the chair seemed to engulf me and lock me in. I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach the same as being at the start of a scary roller coaster. Sam shook the white pinstriped cape with a sharp snap at the side of me; then threw it around me.
‘Well kid how do you want it today?’ he asked, cigarette still in mouth.
‘I want it short, cut it like a marine,’ the words only feebly coming out of my mouth.
“A marine hmmmmm, high-and-tight flattop then,’ he exclaimed, the ever present cigarette held in his mouth, ash now flaking off to the floor. I didn’t reply as he pulled the pinstriped cape tighter around my neck.
Each time the chair was pumped up I felt the thud of the hydraulics go through the chair and then me, a regular drumbeat through the chair like that sending a man to his execution. I couldn’t have felt much worse if he was going to cut my head off rather than just my DA and pomp. He bent down to the counter and picked up one of the two clippers lying there in front of me. Sam held the clippers close to my right ear and turned them on. A sudden roar filled the barbershop as they jolted into life. I wanted to shout stop, but I couldn’t. I’m not sure if it made me jump in the chair but suddenly Sam put his left hand firmly on the top of my head squashing the pomp flat to my skull. His grip was assured and firm. Grasping Brylcreemed black hair through his fingers, he positioned my head just where he wanted it. I took one last look in the mirror at my hair as a strand fell from the crushed pomp across my face and over my right eye. I am not sure but I think I saw a grin appear on Sam’s face for a second.
Then the grip became firmer and he placed the clippers at the bottom of the sideburn. One of the sideburns that I had fought so hard with Pop to keep was being slowly peeled away from my head as the clippers rose relentlessly up my head. Shiny black hair started to fall from the clippers on to the cape. The clippers rose up and over my temple until they came off the top of my head: where once had been long, black, luscious hair was now nothing more than dark stubble. Sam tossed the hair into the center of my lap. There it lay lifeless on the cape, a hollow empty feeling engulfing me. No going back now, but would Julie still like me? Again the clippers ran up the side of my head, this time not the slow careful motion but a quick swipe up the side of my head then again and again. Now Sam was ripping through the hair with the clippers like a man possessed. My head was being yanked and forced to the position that he wanted for no more than a second before the clippers ran up stripping the hair. The Brylcreem was making some of the hair stick to the clippers and Sam was having to flick the hair off them forcefully, which meant he had time to aim for my lap. This he did with deadly accuracy as if to show me just how much hair was coming off. The cape was now nearly flat to my lap with the weight of hair as he finally removed the left sideburn leaving nothing more than stubble. Sam switched off the clippers and placed them back on the counter. Looking in the mirror I guessed it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Yes, white scalp was showing through the bristle and the pomp was crushed, but it wasn’t too bad.
Sam took out a large black comb from his white jacket and combed the pomp forward so that it fell past the tip of my nose. The next thing I heard was the sound of scissors slicing though my bangs about an inch above my eyebrows. I could feel the hair tickle my nose and cheek on its descent to the cape and the floor. A brutal straight-line fringe was cut. With my slick black hair, I looked like one of the three stooges. Sam looked at me in the mirror. ‘Should I leave it like this?” he asked with a glint in his eye. ‘You look like Mo!’
Before I could answer him he combed the hair up, the Brylcreem holding it aloft, and he took the scissors and just randomly chopped into it. Hair cut at differing lengths fell around; a lock fell on to the bridge of my nose and stuck there. Eventually Sam noticed it and with a quick flick of his fingers sent it to join the rest on the floor. I looked a rough sight in the mirror with all the hair on my lap and the top cut to random lengths. Sam again picked up the clippers. Standing behind me he lifted the hair through the comb, then running the clippers over it. He did this very quickly and without too much precision. Slowly the hair was getting shorter, much shorter, and I could see the start of the flattop appearing. Sam continued with this until he was happy and then took from the counter a white flattop comb, ran it through the hair for a couple of times and then slowly and very precisely placed it exactly where he wanted. I could feel it at first resting on the very top of my head, and then lifted off slightly with the black hair standing proud through the white comb. With a quick swipe the clippers were run over the comb slaying every strand of hair daring to protrude past it. The process was repeated again and again until every hair was standing at the same level. This was short – hardly a hair on my head and any remaining was no longer than an inch.
The strong September morning sun was shafting through the window and warming my head, when Sam picked up the second clippers from the counter and proceeded to run them up the side of it. Looking in the mirror, I could see small flecks of hair spraying from the clippers and sparkling in the light. This time the white scalp was left clearly visible, but he didn’t go quite so high – only just past the temple. Using the second clippers Sam blended the two lengths together. Then he took the flattop comb again. Standing behind me, bending down and eyeing up the level, he made fine adjustments to my head until it was perfectly square to my shoulders. ‘Hold it there,’ he said; then ran the flattop comb through my hair levelling it to the top of my skull, this time not lifting it off my head before running the clippers over. I dared not move in the slightest as he did this and Sam seemed to take forever lifting the comb away and brushing the short hair off. Soon he was done and used the clippers freehand to catch any stray hairs.
‘I’ll leave the corners square. That right, Sir?’ Sam asked.
‘Yes,’ I replied quickly as if abruptly woken from my stupor. I was now ‘Sir.’ That made a change from ‘Kid’ earlier. Sam finished with a neck shave and dusted off with talcum powder. He brushed the hair from the back of my neck, picked up a mirror and showed the back. Where had once been a DA of luscious slick black hair was now bare skin gradually coming out to stubble. ‘Short enough for you, Sir?’ asked Sam as he held the mirror. I wanted to shout; ‘ I didn’t want it this short.’ Instead I just said, ‘Yes, thank you,’ as he pulled away the cape. I ran the palm of my hand up the back of my neck. Where once had been a soft cushion of hair was now sandpaper but boy, did it feel good as I ran my hand up. Sam handed me a cloth to wipe the hairs from my face. Looking in the mirror, I was just like a marine – the flattest squarest flattop I had ever seen. I was begging to like it, but would Julie? Just her to face now. I paid Sam and as I was walking out the door he shouted, ‘See you again in two weeks.’
‘Ah yes,’ I replied. Two weeks? Who was he kidding? It was going to take me a year to get my hair back. Although it was sunny that morn there was still a chill in the air and I could feel it round my new haircut as I ran home. I took a shower and put on a clean shirt and tie, jacket and pants. I wanted to look good for Julie.
So here I was standing outside of Julie’s house hoping she would like my new haircut when suddenly the door swung open and Julie was there. ‘You did it; you cut your hair,’ she said in a whisper and gave me a peck on the cheek. I didn’t have time to answer before Julie’s father was at the door too. ‘So you’re Julie’s young man are you?’ Mr. Henderson asked.
‘Ah yes, Sir.’
‘Well come on in. You don’t have to stand outside,” he said. ‘Good to see a normal-looking young man these days. So many of your age look like long-haired delinquents, but you are very welcome here, son – any time.’
‘Thank you, Sir!’ I replied. Now I knew I had done the right thing.