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I'm Not Alone by Jonathan


"John you have to get a haircut before school starts!" yelled my dad.

"I don't want one right now," I told him.

"Your hair is way too long now and you're cutting it today," my dad tells me.

It was the end of the summer of 1975 and I was 11 years old. In two weeks my 5th grade year of school would be starting. I had long hair like everyone then. It was down to the tip of my shoulders and growing long. My best friend David had just spent the night and my dad was about to drive him home. On the way back my dad was going to make that dreaded trip to the barbers for my haircut. This time I just really didn't want a haircut. When my mom took me I was able to get whatever haircut I wanted. When it was my dad, it had to be short!

"Dad, I don't want a haircut today, please maybe next week," I pleaded.

"I'm too busy with work next week and school is starting real soon, it's getting cut today!" my dad yield.

"Oh man maybe mom can take me," I say.

"No more back talk John, or it's getting cut really short!" he yells.

Then he went into the backyard to smoke a cigerette. My friend David who had just spent the night was just packing up his stuff so he could go home. My dad was dropping him off on the way to the barbershop. He had overheard this haircut discussion.

"How short do you have to cut your hair John?" asks David.

"It's going to have to be clipper short up over the ears," I tell him.

"Oh I just could never do that to my hair, no one cuts their hair that short," David tells me.

I look at David's long hair. It is over the ears and the bangs are real long. The back is nearly the same length as mine. This just isn't fair. Why do I have to cut my hair?

"Kids are going to laugh at you John if you cut your hair that short," David tells me.

"You heard my dad, I have to get a haircut!" I remind him.

"He always says it's not worth his money to get a trim, he likes a real haircut for me." I say.

"Can't you wait until your mom can take you?" asks David.

"No, she's busy right now and doesn't have time. She's working at the snack shack for my brother's baseball games," I say.

Just then my dad tells David to call his parents to tell them we're on our way to drop him home on this hot Saturday morning. He dails the phone and they answer, but want to talk to my dad. It turns out they had to take his sister somewhere and wondered if David could stay just a bit longer. Then my dad tells them it's fine because David can just come with us to the barber shop. There was some talk on the other end of the phone and it was not all too clear to us. What we could tell was David was going with us to the barbers and then home. Oh great, just what I didn't need. It was bad enough all my hair was about to get cut off, but now my best friend gets to watch.

"David you're coming with us, your parents want you to get a haircut before school starts too," my dad says.

"They said that?" David asks.

"They said you needed one real bad and wanted it cut short," my dad said.

David looked really worried and nervous right then. There was a part of me that felt a little sorry for him. It was so unexpected. I knew his parents just didn't have the guts to make him cut his hair. They knew my dad was big and you just didn't question or mess with him. In a way I was glad I wouldn't be the only one looking like a sheared geek with ears.

Poor David didn't know what to do or say. Finally he spoke up.

"Mr. Johnson, how short did they say my hair needed to be cut?" David asks.

"David, they want it short with the ears showing," my dad tells him.

"Can't I just get a trim, please?" David begs.

"Listen, if you boys don't stop whining like little girls you're both getting crewcuts!" yells my dad.

"Sh, sh, sh, stop David, he'll make us cut our hair like that," I say.

That was it we had resigned ourselves to get our hair cut clipper short that morning. My dad was in a mood and now he had two whiny 11 year old boys to worry about. We said no more and in about ten minutes were driving to the barber shop in my dad's Mustang.

Poor David sat in the back seat in silence. I knew this kid since kindergarten and never remember him having short hair. This must have been a scary moment for him. I had my hair clipper short a couple years back in third grade. My mom didn't have time to take me to the barbers and my dad had him shear me good. I cried and screamed back then. It was useless, in the end I wound up looking like a mini marine.

It didn't take more than a 15 minute drive and we pulled up to Don's Barber Shop. I could see in the window the place wasn't too crowded yet. It was around 10 in the morning and the shop had two or three people waiting in the black vinyl waiting chairs. There were two teenagers getting trims from the barbers. The other people waiting were a middle age man and his son our age.

My dad brought us both inside and we reluctantly sat down in two of those black vinyl waiting chairs. It was like being brought in someplace for what would be your worst nightmare. David sat silent and scared. I looked at his long hair and felt a little guilty, as if somehow I was partly responsible for this.

I noticed all the sights and smells of this barber shop. It was clear the place was no longer the shop it had once been. There were 5 chairs, yet three looked unused. The two barbers had all the clippers, liquids and equipment at their stations. The other three were dusty and bare. The large mirror on the barber station area wall had several of the long flouresant light bulbs missing. Many off the flourescent bulbs on the ceiling looked burned or missing too. The gumball machine sat empty of gumballs. The waiting and barber chairs both have colored tape on them to cover the rips. Beat up and dirty was what you'd call this place. It was my dad's favorite shop. He'd taken me here five or six times. Every time I walked out sheared and humiliated.

"Hey Don, about how long is the wait?" my dad asks the barber.

"Oh, those two are next after these two, so 40 minutes or so I'd say," Don answeres.

"Oh yes, maybe there's a chance my dad doesn't want to wait and we get out of this," I tell myself.

"Don, can I leave these two boys off for haircut, then run some errands?" asks my dad.

"Sure, no problem you can just pay when you get back Jake," Don says.

"Ok thanks, give these two boys both real short clipper short on the back and sides haircuts. Just leave a little on the top to part," my dad Jake says.

Oh great now I heard our fate. To these guys clipper short on the back and sides ment they took the clippers way up around your ears and back of the head. We'd wind up with skinned stubble or skinned bald an inch up around the tops of the ears. This happened to me here before. No one at our school would have cuts like this. Poor David and I would be oddballs from another time period.

"See you boys in an hour or so I've got shopping to do," my dad said.

It seems like forever as we sat starring at the barbers cutting hair. None of the haircuts we were now watching were nearly as short as we'd soon get. I never saw David this quiet. He was in a state of defeated shock. I myself felt sick to my stomach. It was just our bum luck we both had to get these clipper short military type haircuts on this hot Saturday morning in 1975. All because of my old fashioned dad.

Soon the two teenagers were done and the father and son were in the two barber chairs. Their haircuts were not likely going to be shorts. All I saw was the barbers using the scissors. My heart was beating fast as Don blew the lose hairs off the man's son. I knew this meant one of us would be next. Don had cut my hair before, it was cut short! Should I make David go next? The I'd wind up with the other guy, he might be better.

"Whose first?" Don asks.

"You go John," David said.

"No you go ahead," I say.

To my surprise I see David slowly get up and head toward Don's big, red barber chair. I walks over and then sits down in silence. Don puts the cape on and then fastens the white tissue around his neck. David says nothing and neither does Don. I look and see Don reaching for the largest metal clippers hanging on a clip. He straightens out the thick black cord and flicks on the switch. They slowly whirr faster and faster.

I take one last look at my best friend's long dark blond hair and know it soon will be no longer. Don attacks the left side first. I see the first clumps of blond hair land on the black barber cape. I watch as his left ear comes to view. I see the hair falling fast on the cape and floor. Poor David just sat there helpless and still. I realized this would most likely be worse for him than me somehow. Soon I see him transformed before my eyes.

"Are you ready?" the other barber asks me.

I am startled and was in a trance watching my best friend's hair being shorn off. Now it was my turn. Both the father and son had left the shop. I was my turn to get shorn. I felt a strange lump in my throat as I walked over and sat in that big beat up barber chair. Just as I sat down a kid around 15 came in for a haircut and sat in the waiting chair in front of me. I felt the barber apply the cape and tissue. It didn't take long until the clippers were soon taking off my hair. My hair was no match against that sharp powerful machine. I could see large clumps of my brown hair falling around me. The 15 year old kid in front of me sat starring. I could feel his nervousness for me. I couldn't blame him for watching, dispite my irritation.

I could feel the breeze on my ears and knew there was no hair covering them. I didn't like my ears and thought they looked funny. This added to the dread of being shorn zero up around them. It was a double whammy. I sat trapped for what seemed like forever! Wasn't it short enough? More and more clippers buzzing around my head. When would it end?

I could see poor David was done and sitting in the waiting chair now. His hair was real, real short. I hadn't seen a kid with hair that short in years. I knew I would soon look just like him. At least now I didn't have to face it alone. Soon we were both done with our haircuts. Neither one wanted to look too long at them in the mirror. Yet we couldn't resist rubbing all the stubble on the back and sides. Soon my dad came to pick us up.

"Boys, those haircuts look really sharp boys!" my dad says.

He paid and we left and headed for the car. It would be months before our hair grew back. I wandered if this was going to happen again. Would it grow out or just get shorn again?






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