Charles Travels Light to Hawaii by Lox (recovered)
Charles Travels Light to Hawaii
Charles’ heart beat quickly as the barber fastened the cape tightly around his neck. He had never been seated in a barber’s chair before. His carefully scissors-cut style was testimony to that fact. Charles’ eyes locked onto the row of heavy duty clippers that hung from the bottom of the counter in front of him. He had long fantasized about having his hair cut with electric clippers in a traditional barbershop, but it had taken over a year to finally build up the courage to actually take the initiative to make this fantasy become reality.
The barber began slowly combing his luxuriant mane of chestnut colored hair with fiery auburn highlights. Charles’ hair was parted on the side, and fell in full glossy waves over his collar in back and to mid-ear on his sides. His thick forelock was swept back, but frequently slipped so that much of his forehead would be cloaked in shimmering chestnut.
Charles could not tell whether the overpowering emotion he felt was excitement or fear. All he knew was that this would be a date to remember – his first ever haircut with electric hair clippers. He was determined not to leave the barbershop without feeling the chattering teeth at his nape and seeing a generous portion of his hair fall to the cape.
What had led him to this point was a mystery of sorts. For most of his life he’d zealously guarded his pretty locks and cultivated them with the most expensive care and products available. He had always been very insistent on quarterly “trims”. The word “haircut” didn’t even exist in his vocabulary!
But, an interstate move two years before had initiated a change in attitude toward his long hair. Shortly after moving, Charles had the unpleasant task of finding a new stylist. A random assignment at a salon had brought him into contact with the most obnoxious stylist that he had ever entrusted his locks to. He had never had his hair characterized as “over grown” or “shaggy” before, and certainly no one had ever suggested he was in need of “a good cropping”! Charles had insisted firmly that a trim was all he wanted – only about a half inch taken off. But the young, opinionated stylist knew better and began chopping away. Two inches had been taken off the back and the hair snipped rather short on the sides too, revealing most of his ear for the first time in ages. The worst horror, however, was reserved for the bangs, which were combed straight down and cut above the eyebrow! A full three inches fell to the cape. Charles was infuriated and demanded an immediate end to such unrestrained shearing. The fellow who had butchered his mane expressed no regrets as Charles paid him and stormed out.
Although Charles had left the shop very angry, by the time he got home and rushed to the bathroom to check out the damages, he had undergone somewhat of a change in his attitude. When he saw how short his hair had been cut, he felt a secret sense of satisfaction. He tugged at his short bangs and combed them to appear even shorter than they already were – like about a mere inch in length! If the folks back home could see him then, they would be amazed.
After a few months, though, his hair regained some its full and longish appearance, especially compared to his new colleagues – all of whom sported extremely short, tapered haircuts. Charles would marvel when one of the fellows whose hair already looked scalp would mention he needed a haircut and would return to the office the next day absolutely shorn. Aggressively cut “whitewalls” and soaring “arches” around the ears were common on some of the guys. One fellow even sported a 1950’s style flattop! Charles had credited this trend to the fact that his colleagues for the most part were a younger set who had never experienced the 1950’s for themselves. They had probably all grown up in the late 70’s and 80’s and had necessarily rejected the longish, feathered back hairstyles of their youth for the ultra-short cuts.
As the first year in his new job progressed, Charles found himself more and more fascinated with the short haircuts of his colleagues. His ears perked up at any talk about haircuts or clippers. He learned from listening in basic terms, like taper and “ivy league”, as well as the fact that clippers progressively cut shorter as the numbers got lower. He even discovered that a “crewcut” was not a “butch” – something that surprised him. One particular instruction that intrigued him was -- “I told the barber to taper me to zero.” Charles secretly admitted to himself that he actually admired that very shorn look.
From that point on, Charles began fantasizing about having his own hair tapered by a barber. He could have a stylist progressively shorten his hair, but to make the great leap towards a truly tapered haircut, he would need to visit a barbershop. The more he thought about going to a traditional barber, the more excited he became about getting his hair cut very short.
Charles’ annual vacation was coming up, and in the course of planning for something fun and exciting to do, the decision to finally get the barbershop haircut was made. Yes, yes, there would be the trip to Hawaii – but the pretty auburn tresses would not be seeing the Aloha State. He would step off the plane shorn down very short – looking just like his colleagues at work. Could he do that? Yes, and he would do that the very morning of his flight. Everything would be packed to be at the airport at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, meaning he would visit the barbershop that morning and finally get the tapered cut with electric hair clippers. The only dilemma left was how short he would tell the barber to cut his hair.
And, as he sat staring at himself in the mirror, fully caped with the elderly barber awaiting his instruction on how to proceed, Charles was still not sure what to say. “Well,” started Charles a bit of hesitation, “I would like it cut a lot shorter than it is right now.”
“Off the collar and ears?” the barber asked, seeking some specificity.
“Yes, and I would like it tapered,” Charles added.
“Tapered?” the barber inquired. “You mean like a businessman’s haircut?”
“I mean,” said Charles feeling emboldened, “that I would like you to use the electric clippers there to give me a traditional tapered haircut.” For added emphasis he pointed from beneath the cape at the line of machines within hand’s reach of the barber.
“I see,” said the barber. “Should we taper it lightly on the back and sides, or medium?”
The caped client thought for a moment. “I want it tapered to zero,” said Charles with finality.
That precise instruction assured the barber that Charles knew what he was requesting and the questions designed to clarify his instructions abruptly ended. He picked up a large, black machine and pushed Charles’ head down. “Very well, then. One extremely short taper coming up!” Charles’ heart skipped a beat when he heard the barber’s reaction to “tapered to zero”.
Click. Hmmmmm. Then he felt the clippers at his nape. After months and months of anticipation he was now at a point of no return. Genuine panic followed. The barber’s firm hand plowed the clippers higher and higher up the back of his head. Charles’ could picture his beautiful chestnut hair falling away in the wake of the clippers. Quickly and repeated, the barber pumped the machine up the back of his head thoroughly removing any traces of length. Then he moved to the sides, with similar vigor. The barber continued to administer the short haircut in a very firm, unforgiving manner. Charles was not used to having his head forcefully pushed forward and from side to side to allow the clippers to make short work of his once-abundant mane. His stomach was full of knots as he watched the pile of hair that fell onto the white cape grow in dramatic proportions.
Then the barber took a slight break to fiddle with the clippers. Charles clearly saw himself for the first time with the sides of his head clipped close – just enough hair to cover the scalp. His ears were prominent. It looked quite strange, with the top at its original length and the long forelock dangling out of control. Then the barber raised the clippers up past Charles’ shocked face and began a surprise forehead-to-crown movement, right across the top of his head. Massive amounts of hair cascaded to the cape. The entire forelock fell virtually intact onto his lap! Charles was in a state of mild shock. When the clipping on top finally stopped he saw that he was well on his way to getting an old-fashioned brushcut! Charles could hardly recognize himself without his long, bulky mane.
“The excess hair is gone, and now for the zero taper,” announced the barber brandishing a smaller set of clippers. “Would you like whitewalls?”
Charles felt a charge of emotion, yet simultaneously drained of energy and weak. Would he like whitewalls?! They were the ultimate confirmation that a fellow was not afraid to get shorn down ultra-short. “Yes, and please make them quite pronounced.”
The barber did not ask for further instructions, but gladly stripped the furry pelt from Charles’ sides and back. Charles’ heart beat wildly as the clippers climbed a full two thirds up the back of his head before gradually tapering away from the scalp!
By the time the barber finished, Charles looked like he was in the military. Wide swaths of white wrapped around his sides and back and a little furry patch remained on top. “This is closer to a crewcut than to a taper,” commented the barber, “but I could tell you were ready for something really short. Shall I lather up the whitewalls and back and take it down to the skin?”
“Yes, please do,” responded Charles, masking his excitement in a matter-of-fact tone. “And really, I think it could be cut a lot shorter on top. What number did you use?”
“A #4,” replied the barber. “Now, if you had wanted a high and tight, you should have just told me that to begin with!”
“Sorry for not making myself clear. Yes, an extremely short high and tight is just what I want. I head off for Hawaii in a few hours and I don’t want to spend my vacation fiddling around with long hair.” The way Charles’ had been able to take control of his own makeover surprised him.
“You’re the boss,” said the old man, as he proceeded to take Charles down ultra-tight, leaving him with 90% skin and 10% closely cropped hair. When it was all done Charles stared in amazement at his new self in the mirror, knowing he’d return to work with the shortest hair in his office!
“Careful to not let your scalp get burned in Hawaii, and have a good trip,” the friendly barber called as Charles left the shop nearly dazed. He knew that his first, exciting barbershop experience would not be his last! As he glanced down at the shorn mounds of hair on the floor, Charles was glad he wouldn’t be taking a lot of excess baggage with him to Hawaii.