The Adventure by Manny (recovered)
Unexpectedly, the stern-faced man who was dressed completely in a white barber’s outfit, turned and addressed the young man behind him in the check-out line. “You’re the fellow who’s been watching my shop of late, aren’t you?” he snapped.
The mop-head was unable to conceal his embarrassment. Reddened checks confirmed the barber’s suspicions. “Uh….I…um, well, yes….”
The barber glared disdainfully at the full mane of wavy hair that tumbled down toward the shoulders of the surprised college-aged lad. He spoke with authority. “You are in desperate need of a haircut. There is no need to feel embarrassed or awkward. Tomorrow you will come to the barbershop and I am going to give you a decent haircut. And, don’t make any request for ‘just a trim’ or such as that. It will be a tidy ‘short back and sides’ just like mine. No dragging of feet or whining either.” The off-duty barber’s instructions were crisp and with an air of definite certainly. Like they would of course be followed.
The barber turned back towards the cashier and began placing his things on the belt to pay. After receiving his change, he glanced back to the boy and added, “Get there early --- no dawdling -- hop into the chair and cooperate. You’ll feel much better when you leave my shop clean cut and looking sharp.” Then the barber gathered up his things and left, muttering “pretty boy hair…”.
James’ heart pounded after the surprise encounter with the man he’d been watching for several months and who he’d followed into the convenience store. The impeccably groomed barber, who appeared middle aged, had crossed the street to buy a coke. The pristine white outfit that the barber sported as he tackled his shaggy clients added to his “Mr. Clean” image. James had watched him shear and clip men’s and boys’ hair into fantastically short styles for several months before the “chance encounter” by the cashier. After just a few surveillance sessions, James had begun longing to have the big white cape fastened about this own neck and his head nudged forward with the barber’s forceful insistence. He shivered at the thought of shedding his carefully cultivated bohemian look for a conservative 1950’s coif. Before -- mounds of flowing, silken hair. After – a tight taper, slicked to the side with Brylcreme.
But, with the barber’s direct, curt instruction to show up for a haircut the next morning, it wasn’t just the radical metamorphosis that sent shivers down his spin. It was the thought of submitting to the barber – “cooperating” had been his word – being there bright and early, per instructions, sitting quietly while the cape was fastened into place, and then watching all his cherished hair fall to the cape as the barber slashed away at his treasured tresses. Surely, when its was all over, the barber undoubtedly would look on his new creation with a proud look. One more longhaired transformed into a law-abiding citizen!
James absent-mindedly fondled his plush locks as he thought about the following day. He wanted to be daring – brave enough to cross the threshold of the barbershop for a new and all-encompassing experience. He had years of being a counter-culture hippy under his belt. It was time to move on. At that moment he felt certain he would not let the stern-looking barber down. As he walked towards his car, James realized that, most of all, he wanted to see the barber’s scowl give way to a slight smile as his new client was swirled around -- once everything was shorn and done -- to face the mirror and a new persona altogether.
Falling asleep with visions of capes, clippers and shorn locks dancing about in his mind was virtually impossible. And, knowing that once the tresses fell and that there was no reversing the damage made the impending haircut exceptionally exciting. He would have to find a new, serious -- even geeky -- crowd to hang out with once the makeover had been administered. Maybe join a geeky club for computer nerds. Oh yes, and he’d be a regular client at the old fashioned barbershop! The stern barber might chat a bit about sports or the weather as he pressed the clippers firmly at the nape of James’ head each Saturday morning.
It was a shock then, when James woke up and saw that it was going on 10:00 a.m.! He who had planned to get to the shop early and be the first client in the chair was now running late. And, of course, he had to shower and wash his abundant mane for the last time. His precious hair….one last time. James gulped as he headed to the shower and reality set in. He was going to get scalped, look like a geek….and he might leave the shop hating the haircut and lamenting the decision to go on such an irreversible adventure. As he plied the shampoo through his locks, James developed a serious case of cold feet. Besides, he was already running late….and he had wanted to be there “bright and early”, just like the barber ordered. He was afraid a late arrival might have serious consequences.
Stepping out of the shower, he saw the image of himself in the mirror with his sexy long hair, wet and shiny, framing his face. What would it be to see that all stripped away with some serious white-walls and a brylcreme-slicked-to-the-side style? Oh yes, it would be 1950’s again. The barber was sure to be extremely agitated that he had “dawdled” instead of following through with the “suggestion” that he “get there early, hop into the chair, and cooperate.” That’s right, the barber would have to teach him a lesson – a well-deserved punishment -- by pushing the clippers tighter and further up the back of the truant’s head than even he had first imagined. James’ hair would be cut punishingly short. His level of excitement soared as he quickly got dressed and headed out to find his new persona in the old fashioned barbershop!
Walking to his car, James thought about getting a pair of heavy, black eyeglass frames once his hair had been shorn by the barber -- to really emphasize the geeky, 1950’s look. A row of pens sticking up from the front pocket too! Oh, how exciting it would all be.
But, catching a look at his sexy mane in the rearview mirror took a bit of the excitement out of the adventure. Such a drastic makeover – was he crazy?! As James drove towards the shop, the dread returned and intensified. Nervously, his hand plied through the abundant tresses….their wonderful silken feel. Oh, it would be traumatic to watch it all be stripped away. He could turn and drive away – he had a freewill still, or did he. Submit to the clippers. He knew there was no choice….
And then the red and white barber pole came into sight!! The stern barber was at work that very moment, undoubtedly, plying his hungry clippers through someone’s hair. As he drove past the shop, James quickly looked in. Yes, there was some young man in the chair, facing away from the mirror as the barber’s scissors clicked up the back, forming a sharp taper. At least facing away from the mirror would save him the anxiety of watching the barber relieve him of all his pretty hair, James thought.
James parked and crossed quickly to the opposite side of the street, away from the shop. He was going through his usual “lurking” routine. The convenience store where the barber had confronted him the day before had a good line of sight vision to the barbershop across the street. As the plate glass window of the shop came into view, James saw the barber combing the lad’s heavy bangs straight down and raising the shears. While the rest of his hair was short and tidy, the bangs fumbled down into the client’s eyes. James always loved the part where the bangs were shorn off, ultra short. Snip, snip, snip. Halfway up the forehead, the shears did their work! Huge tufts wafted down. Oh, he cut them at an angle! James wanted angled bangs – that is, if the barber left any bangs at all….
Then, as the barber reached for the thinning shears, he turned around and spotted James on the other side of the street lurking!
Panic struck James. He’d been spotted and he was AWOL! Instinctively, James rushed into the convenience store. He watched the barber attack the lad’s bangs furiously with the thinning shears. The bulk was quickly removed and a mere hint of bangs remained from the once bulky locks that dangled in front of his eyes. Then the barber finished them off by snipping away the remnant almost at the hairline! When his shearing had ended and the chair was swiveled around, the lad actually looked quite astonished at how short his hair had been cut in front. James felt guilty. He knew the barber’s rage was boiling because he had not followed orders.
There was only one-way to atone for the lad’s impromptu scalping. Go take a seat in the chair and let the barber administer a punishment. After the shorn lad left, the barber stood in the window with his arms on his hip staring at the convenience shop. James slowly emerged and then crossed the street. How would the repentant truant be received?
As he reached for the door handle, James noticed the barber relaxing his confrontational stance a bit. He even tried to sound a bit cheerful as he greeted James upon entry, “So, you’ve finally made it. This seat here’s been waiting for you,” he said as he patted the overstuffed red vinyl chair on a huge white pedestal. James knew the barber was angry, despite the friendly salutation.
James took a seat and the barber quickly cast a gleaming white cape around him and fastened it tightly. His fantasy was beginning to be fulfilled! With the cape snapped firmly into place, there was no turning back. Then the barber began yanking a brush through the dense locks that were still a bit damp. “Well, well. As I told you yesterday, a ‘short back and sides’ would do wonders for you.” James was on the threshold of the 1950’s, at last!
The barber picked up a set of huge clippers. “But, you weren’t here first thing, were you?” James heart began to pound. The barber swiveled the car away from the mirror. “And, you were beginning to go through your ‘lurking’ routine, weren’t you?” The barber slowly swiveled the chair away from the mirror. Then he snapped on the machine and the chattering steel teeth roared to life. James hands grasped the arms of the chair tightly. “So, you need to learn a little lesson, then,” the barber said with a threatening edge in his voice.” He shoved James’ quivering head down to his chest. “We’re going to show some skin – a lot of skin, back here!” And the clippers were then thrust forcefully into the mounds of glossy hair and pushed tightly up the back of James’ head. James felt large clumps of his treasured hair fall away. “Oh yes,” intoned the barber with an air of accomplished satisfaction, “and you’ll get some nice whitewalls too on the sides! But first, we need to get rid of all this long, pretty boy, girlie hair.” The barber was determined with the clippers. Sheaves of glossy hair fell onto the white cape as he ran the clippers through the cherished locks. Up, up, up they climbed. And down, down, down fell the long hair that had been James’ companion for ages.
But the biggest surprise of all was yet to come. Suddenly, the barber thrust clippers towards James’ forehead and buzzed off the hanks of long hair that fell across his face. In a single, tidy swoop, his abundant bangs came off, quite near the hairline. And then the clippers turned and plowed straight back, from forehead to crown. The barber chuckled as he sensed James shrink away in fright. Everything was being clipped down to a crewcut, military style! The glossy tresses on the cape looked so helpless – just the way James felt at that moment.
Once all the clipping was done, the barber lightly brushed the top of James’ buzzed pate with his hand, removing some lose hair and stimulating the velvety texture in the process. “A nice tight butchcut will be so easy for you to manage,” he said to “cheer” James up. Then, after a long, pregnant pause, he added, “But then, what about those whitewalls I promised you, and lots of skin! No, I couldn’t let you down on your first visit to my shop….”
James heard some odd sounds and rustling on the counter as he examined the basketful of hair in his lap. He just couldn’t believe it! From longhair to recruit…. Then he felt warm lather being applied to the sides and backs of his buzzed pate. “Don’t move,” the barber cautioned as the straight-edged razor was scraped around the ears and back. James felt like he was about to faint. What would all his friends say? Oh, his beautiful hair was gone….
The barber firmly scraped off all the remaining hair from James’ sides and back – virtually upto the crown. Then came the soothing warm towels followed by a surprise sing of witchhazel. The grand finale, however, was the unveiling of the new James. Quickly the barber spun the chair back and James saw the new persona for the first time. The whitewalls gleamed and the barber flashed his smiling white teeth at James’ contained horrified reaction. Then the barber slowly pulled off the hair-ladened cape. “No more fooling around with girlie hair each morning, fellow!” he said as the shimmering locks fell to the floor.
James quickly paid and promised the barber he’d be a regular. Then he left the shop with a new sense of giddiness as he thought about the next phase of his adventure – finding a used clothes shop to find some authentic threads for his retro-60’s look. A white, short sleeves button down shirt, some peg leg pants and wing tip shoes. Oh, and the black framed glasses…..the new James was taking shape!