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All Because of That Gift Shop! by Jonathan


It was the mid 1970's and I was 13 years old. My family had gone on a Sunday outing to a Museum in Exposition Park California. We had lunch and a great day there. My mom, dad, and my two younger brothers. My name is Jonathan.

Just as an after thought we stopped in at the museum's gift store. A little store with animal toys and games. The kind of place a kid loves and parents hate. They always say pick out one thing or give you 10 or 20 dollars tops to spend. How this turned out to be a big mistake will soon be clear.

Well it was the seventies and I was 13 so I had long hair. It had always been over my ears as long as I could remember. At this time it was the longest it had ever been. It was just touching my shoulders. I guess when I was very small it was short at some point, but I never wanted that again. I tried to be very careful and it never got cut short. It was a perfect sandy blond color and just a little wavy. It made me look cool, back especially then.

We were in this gift store my family and I. I think we were looking at some toy dinosaurs. My two younger brothers wanted these dinosaurs. All of the sudden this total stranger would come walking over to us and say something.

"That boy really needs a haircut!" the stranger says.

"You're right it is way to long now," my dad says to her.

"Jonathan I am going to take you to the barber next Tuesday evening!" my dad says.

I look at my mom for some help. I know my dad hates long hair, but my my was always cool about it. My two younger brothers are laughing at this whole thing. The lady who decided to make herself the hair length police has now walked away.

"Maybe you could just go get Jonathan a trim," my mom says.

"Yeah just a trim!" I say.

"I am so embarrassed a stranger has to point out my son's hair is too long!" my dad says.

"We're going to get it cut short up over the ears on Tuesday!" he says.

This was bad. I hated my ears. They are funny looking and pinched down around the tips. What did he say, cut short up over the ears. I didn't have any friends with hair this short. I didn't really know anyone at school with hair that short either. Even my two brother's hair was over their ears. Oh no! I had two days to think of something fast.

I had put off my haircut just a little too long this time. If it hadn't gotten this long the lady wouldn't have said something. My dad grew up in the 1950's and to him a haircut was a butch or a flattop. My mom was a bit younger and longer styles were something she understood. She was also more aware of fashion too. My dad dressed like the 50's still. He had a crew cut, black dress shoes and short sleeve button down shirts.

On the way home in the car this was all I could think about. I was very worried and knew my dad ment what he said. My mom was not going to stop him now. She felt like it was a little her fault that lady came up to us and said your son's hair is too long and he needs a haircut. She was the parent in charge of clothes, shoes and haircuts. This was a failure on her part. Now my dad was going to take over and fix this.

"Is Jonathan getting a real haircut dad?" my middle brother Richie asked.

"On Tuesday when the barber shop is open he is," dad said.

"He looks like a girl now, that lady in the museum store had to come tell us that!" he continued.

Oh this was just getting worse. It was my idea to go into that gift store too. I hated that lady right now.

I could hardly eat or sleep for the next two days. I'd have to wait until Tuesday right after school when my dad was coming home early from work around 3:30. This was when his favorite barber shop would be open. His childhood barber Anthony still worked there. I think he'd taken us there a few times when we were really little. He still got his crew cuts there. I was dreading this for days in slow motion.

Finally Tuesday evening came. He got home right after I came home from school. I knew he was serious about this haircut now. We drove to the older part of town where Anthony's shop was. All the way there I kept trying to imagine how I would look. Also what would happen at school tomorrow?

We finally arrived. Oh, I got out of the car and went into the barber shop. Two other barbers were cutting some younger men's hair. Anthony was not busy. It was close to 4:30 by now.

My dad said,"you remember Jonathan, don't you?"

"He's really grown a lot since I've seen him," Anthony says.

I got in the chair and he put on the clip and cape. I was just expecting a short over the ears haircut. This would be bad enough, but for two days now I was used to this idea.

"Anthony I want you to cut Jonthan's hair real short so he won't need a haircut for a long time," my dad says.

"Give him a crew cut, ok Anthony," dad says.

"NO, NO, NO!" I yell.

"PLEASE NO, JUST A REGULAR SHORT HAIRCUT," I beg.

"NO, NO, NO!" I yell again.

"No it grows too fast and it will just get too long again," my dad says.

"Give him a crew cut Anthony," my dad says.

Now I am starting to cry. I am too old to cry, but a crew cut in the mid 70s was very rare. I'd be the only kid almost anywhere with a crew cut. I wanted to run, but knew I couldn't. I yelled no, no, no a couple more times. Then I sat there still and mortified.

Those big clippers whirling around my head. Nearly all my light brown hair just falling around me. Buzzing and buzzing. My dad and his barber talking politics now. I could see one young twenty something guy in the waiting chair watching my haircut. He had a pained look in his eyes. I could tell I was doomed by his look. He felt sorry for me, but was enjoying watching all my hair cut off too. I could see I had no hair around my ears, zero. A little butch wax spiked up on top. No hair on the back. It was like military regulation. Anthony is finally done and gets the hand mirror.

"How does it look Jonathan?" Anthony asks.

"Ok," I mutter out.

My dad pays and we drive home. I felt so weird without hair. It was like another person, not me. My mom was mad when she saw it was a crew up and not just a short haircut. It was too late though. The next Wednesday I got all kinds of "the lawn mower won" jokes. People I didn't even know said stuff. Some people touched it. It was the longest, nerve racking day of my life. On Thursday it settled down a little. A few kids were absent the day before and hadn't seen my haircut. It would start up again with all the jokes when they saw it for the first time. By Friday my new crewcut was settling in at school with the kids. I didn't like it though!



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