¡Afeita Tu Cabeza, Carlos! by Jonathan
"Everyone line up quietly at the door. We are all going to the nurse's office for head checks," says Mrs. Flores. Lice, lice, lice, a couple kids chanted. It was 3rd period English 8th grade English class. It had been a long time since I remember going to the nurse for lice checks. I remember many times in elementary school, but only one time other time in middle school. I had heard there was an outbreak of lice this week. Eight kids were sent home yesterday!
We all walked down the inside hallway of Jefferson Middle School toward the nurse's office. Inside everyone was a bit nervous, what if "I've" got those dreaded little bugs? In reality it never would be "you" that had them. It was always some other poor sucker. It was especially bad for girls with long hair. Sometimes the home lice kits took several applications to work. A girl also couldn't shave her head like a guy could either.
My name is Carlos Alvarez and I'm an 8th grader here at Jefferson Middle School in Los Angeles California. We walk quietly to the nurse's office. I know the chance of me having lice is slim. I am a bit worried however because I have hair on the long side. It is just touching my shoulders and long on the sides. It is starting to curl up on the sides below the ears. The bangs are long and parted to the right side. My dark brown hair is looking awesome on me. I have kept it about this long since sixth grade, that's the start of middle school.
"Line up along the wall and you may talk quietly while you wait 8th graders," says Mrs. Flores my English teacher.
"When you're done meet me back in room 105," Mrs. Flores tells us.
I am toward the end of the line, 6th to the last person. "Hey Carlos, at least we get out of class!" my friend David behind me says.
"Yeah this should take up most of the 3rd period because we're in the back of the line," I say.
I remember doing this about three times a year in elementary school. Usually everyone was cleared and didn't have lice. I remember many girls and a few boys had it once in awhile. They told you just to stand right there in the nurse's office. The one or two kids in there with you knew you had it.I had over heard this a few times, but never had lice myself. It must be the worst feeling of all. Then the kids also could figure out who didn't come back to class. Then they knew who had those dreaded little bugs. They would then call your parents to come pick you up immediately.
We waited and chatted with our friends awhile as the line slowly got shorter and shorter. So far everyone had gone from the nurse's office and then down the hall back to class. They usually had two or three other school employees who were trained to help the nurse check for lice. Once two or three people had it at school all the kids had to be checked. They had a way somehow to do this systematically.
"Hey Carlos look there's only about 7 people in line left," David tells me.
"We'll do done soon," I tell him.
"It's 10:45, only 15 more minutes left of 3rd period," David says.
I soon notice I'm almost at the door. I look in and can see the nurse and one school secretary checking for lice in there. They have on these blue gloves and slowly move their fingers through your hair examining carefully for those white little bugs. It's a bit humiliating.
Here it comes, my turn! David and I are being checked at the same time. David's hair is very short, a bald fade grown out a little. They look quickly through his little bit of hair on his head and he's cleared. The nurse starts moving her hands slowly through my longer hair. David steps aside waiting to walk back to class with me. I nurse is still looking through my hair.
"What's your name young man?" she asks.
"Carlos Alvarez," I tell her.
David has a pained look in his eyes. Why is she asking me my name? She's not telling me to go back to class! Why?
"Carlos, I'm afraid you have lice. You need to wait right over there in that chair," the nurse says.
"Oh bro I'm sorry that sucks," David says. Then he leaves and heads back to class.
I slowly walk over to the plastic blue chair in the nurse's office. All kinds of thoughts are racing through my mind. This is the most imbarrassing moment for me. All the kids will find out. My parents are going to have to come get me. And how do I get rid of the lice?
Soon the entire class has been checked. I am the only one still here. I know that means no one else had lice. The school secretary and nurse clean a few things up, then the secretary leaves.
"Carlos, I'm afraid you're going to have to go home. Lice can spread too easily to other students. You'll have to be cleared by me when you've gotten rid of the lice," the nurse tells me.
She hands me a paper telling the ways to get rid of lice. I then wait in the main office in a chair waiting for the school secretary to call my parents. My dad is working on a construction site nearby and my mom is in downtown LA. They get a hold of my father first. In about 20 minutes he arrives at the school office. The secretary tells him in Spanish what's going on. I give him the paper with the lice riding directions. It in Spanish and English.
We walk out to my dad's truck. We get in the truck and he tells me he's got to get back to work soon. I figured he'd just drop me home and we'd figure out how to get rid of the lice.
"Carlos, we're going to el peluqueria!" he says.
"No papa, no!" I pleaded
"Si, Carlos rapado su cabeca y no mas lice," he tells me.
I am mortified. I had not thought of this happening. He tells me we're going to the first barber he can find and then I shave all my hair zero. That's how they did it when he was a kid. My father is strict and you don't take back to him. He will take me right back after the haircut and that nurse will have to clear you.
We quickly stop in front of a small two chair barbershop. There is one barber with tattoos and a rockabilly hair style in there. My heart is pounding and my whole body feels week. It's like some bad dream, but I'm awake. My dad reaches into his wallet and gets out a 20$ bill and hands it to me.
"No papa por favor," I beg.
¡Afeita tu cabeca, Carlos!" he yells.
I know it's no use arguing with him. He wants this over fast so he can get back to work. I slowly open the door of the truck and head toward the barber shop. It's the middle of the morning and no one else is in there. I never shaved my head in my life. A number 3 buzz is the shortest it's ever been.
I walk in and the barber says good morning son, can it help you. I notice he's heavily tattooed and a white guy. He has a friendly face.
"I need my head shaved bald, I have lice," I tell him.
"Oh I see, thanks for letting me know about the lice before you sat down," he says.
I head over to the chair and he applies the cape and tissue. He looks at my long hair in a pitying way. Like it's ashame all this nice hair is going to have to come off.
"All of it, nothing left, right?" he asks.
"Yes, zero," I tell him.
I can see my father parked in front of the barber shop out in his truck. He is looking in to make sure I go through with this.
"What's your name," the barber asks.
"Carlos, Carlos Alvarez," I tell him.
"Well this will be very fast Carlos," he tells me.
My heart is beating fast, I feel my body start to shake too. The barber reaches for some big clippers and I notice they say Oyster on them. He flicks the switch and the little motor wirrs on faster and faster. The barber lifts up my long bangs and starts the clippers across my head. They speed from front to back. Then again, front to back. Huge chunks of my dark brown hair fall on the cape. Then I feel him move up around the temples and near the left ear. Quick as lightening the hair covering my left ear is zapped away. He goes over the side again clearing what's left. Then there goes the hair off the right ear and the rest of the side of my head. Finally he tilts my head down and makes several passes at the back of my head. In less then 5 minutes I can see I bald, except a bit of stubble. Then he clips the big Oyster clippers back on a hook and finishes it all off with a smaller set of clippers.
"I'm just about done Carlos," he says.
I can see in the mirror I'm basically bald. My ears haven't been exposed in years and I'm surprised to see them this exposed. My skin color is fairly dark, so my head it's that white. All my hair is now on the floor and no longer on my head. I get up, pay and tip the barber, then quickly walk out.
"Bueno Carlos su cabeca es afeitarse!" my dad says.
We quickly drives back to school. The nurse checks me. I pass and now head to 5th period bald. It's a nightmare. Many kids chuckle under their breath. I feel like everyone's staring at me. My eyes start to well up. I try not to cry though.