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Sione Gets 20% Off by John Nelson


As I'm walking down the sidewalk I notice the reflection of my long hair shine in the sun. I have been growing it long for nearly four years now. It is half way down my back and nice and wavy. It gets me many looks and I stand out in a crowd. I am kind of known for my long flowing locks.

Hey Sione! I hear my friend Ricky call from behind. Ricky had just come out of the barber shop I'd walked by. He'd just gotten a fresh haircut. It was nearly bald except for some stuble faded in up the sides toward the top. Sione, feel my haircut! I take my hand and rub up the back of Ricky's head. It feels so amazingly prickly. Then I rub the top and down the right side. I can feel my fingers touch the tip of Ricky's right ear. I pull my hand away, but really wish I could feel it one more time. I figured twice was enough.

We decide to take the bus home. We both have bus passes to get to school. As we waited at the bus bench I noticed a little red card, like a business card. It said 20% Off any haircut at the Ocean Barber Shop in Wilmington California. I knew where this shop was, about 6 blocks from my house. Not saying a thing to Ricky I picked up the little red card and put it in my shirt pocket. Soon the bus arrived and we got on it.

We rode along on the bus talking breifly. As we rode I noticed my reflection in the bus windows. I stared at myself and focused on my long flowing hair. It had only been trimmed so slightly over the last four years since I was twelve. Now I'm 16 and toyed with the idea of a real haircut. It had been my oldest sister who'd trimmed it.
I had grown so attached to my long hair now it was like a part of me. Each morning I'd take a shower, then wash my hair. I would comb it out when it was wet and let it dry at the start of each day.

Soon the short bus ride ended and Ricky and I reached our street. He just lived at the other end of the street as me. We said our goodbyes on this hot Saturday in May. I had been thinking for awhile about cutting my hair. My older sister loved it. The rest of my family thought I looked like a girl. We are Pacific Islanders and I have a young face. This combined with the long hair has caused me to be confused for being a girl.

One day I was at a candy store with my 14 year old brother. He has very short hair. The lady gave him a candy sample. Then she said, would your sister like one too. I was the sister! He giggled and then said he's a boy. I was so embarrassed. Then just last week at the afterschool program at my highschool they were handing out plates and cups for a party. Blue for boys and pink for girls. The man handed me a pink one! I'm a boy I whispered to him. He turned red with embarrassment, then handed me a blue cup and plate. This same thing happened at a shopping mall. A lady was pushing a large cart and I was in her way. She told me, excuse me young lady can I get through. My friends all laughed when they heard this. Needless to say I was mortified. I had to do something about this. There were many other instances I was mistaken for a girl.

When I got home only my father was there. He was working on something in the garage. I said hi and went into the house. The first thing I did was go into the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror. I lifted my hair up in different ways trying to figure out how to look more like a boy. The only thing I could think of was to cut it!
I pulled that red 20% Off card out of my pocket. I noticed it expired next Saturday. I went into my room I shared with my 14 year old brother. I got all the money in coins and bills I could find. I counted it over and over. Each time I got $10.34. I thought the haircut might be around 10 or 12 dollars. I had the 20% Off card. That was worth at least 2 or 3 bucks I figured. I snuck out the front door of the house. And headed the direction of Ocean Barber Shop. I forced myself to keep walking and not chicken out. This afternoon was going to be the day I got rid of this long hair. I never wanted to be mistaken for a girl again!

Soon I was at the barber shop. It was very large and had five barbers working there, all males. All eyes looked at me when I walked in. It must have been my long hair. They all probably were curious about how I was going to cut it. There must have been ten people young and old waiting to get their hair cut in front of me. I sat down in the first waiting chair I could find. I sat there terrified in silence. Soon the eyes in the shop stopped staring at me. Don't chicken out I kept saying to myself. My haircut had to be as short as my friend Ricky's. I noticed the price list and a haircut would $12.

I waited for what seemed an hour. Then the youngest barber eyed me and said aren't you next? I got up and headed toward his chair. The shop was still very full. I showed the young barber the red 20% Off card. He said yep it's still good. It would make it so I had just enough money for the haircut, but just a dollar left for the tip. I hopped into the chair. With a bit of a struggle he clipped the tissue and cape around my neck. I noticed some of the customers waiting were staring my way. What are we going to be doing with your hair? Just shave it all off I say. Are you sure? Yes I tell the young barber. Do you want it faded with just a bit left on top? Ok, I guess I tell him. Then he asked me if I wanted it blocked in the back and side burns. Ok that's fine I told him. And lined up? All of this was strange talk for me. I hadn't been to a barbers in years.

Soon he was ready! I heard a whirrr of the motor on the big metal clippers. Now I noticed everyone in the shop trying to watch my long hair cut off.They didn't want to be rude, yet couldn't help but stare. The clippers hit the right sideburns first. I could feel them cutting around the ear and right side. Immediately big chucks of long hair started to fall. Then the clippers moved toward the top of the head. I noticed all the people in the waiting seats watching in shock as my hair quickly was being sheared off my head. All around on the cape and floor I could see my long wavy hair. My head felt lighter. I felt the cool air of the ceiling fans. I could see in the mirror it was now gone. The barber took several pairs off smaller clippers and zipped around my ears. I could tell they were very sharp and likely expensive. He buzzed and buzzed. It tingled and felt nice. Finally I could feel the small clippers cutting the hair off my neck. I knew it was nearly done. Then he took a wood handled brush and brushed some nice smelling stuff onto my face and head. Last he rubbed some cool liquid onto my shorn head. He released me out of the cape. I got up went and paid. I had a dollar and some change to tip him with. I said sorry, I'm just a kid and didn't have much more money for the tip. I walked out and kept rubbing my nearly bald head as I walked home. I felt relieved and glad I'd done this. Now it would be fun to see people's reactions!





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