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Junior High 1981 by John Nelson


It was the ending of 8th grade in junior high 1981. It was a time when long shaggy men's and boy's haircuts were slowly changing. Kids were becoming braver at the barbershop and hair was starting to get cut up over the ears. Not everyone had embraced this new look, but I started to see it happen. I'm Jeff Nelson and I'm 13.

As long as I can remember my hair had been longer and covering my ears. I'd felt it fit me and never had a desire to cut it any shorter that this. I had pointy ears and liked the hair on top of them. It never actually occurred to me that one day in the not so distant future my safe, comfortable hairstyle would soon be out of style.

As I was walking to my locker one day I noticed Mark the ninth grader whose locker was on top of mine coming. Mark was a bit of a bully. I had to reach down and put my stuff in my locker under his. Oftentimes he'd reach up from under and lift my hair up on the sides. Then he'd take his hands and push them against my ears and put my head between his legs. He'd then kinda push down and wiggle his body on top of me. I tried to avoid him. I hated this because when he was done my wavy dark brown mop of hair was all messed up. I never brought a hairbrush to school so I'd just have to fix it with my fingers as best as I could. All he'd ever say to me was, "Get a haircut Nelson!"

One really boring day in math class I started to count how many guys had their hair cut off the ears. I count eight out of 18. Wow, I couldn't believe that so many kids were going for the shorter hair now! Just a year ago I bet only one or two guys would have their hair this short. Would I soon be the only one with longer hair?

One really hot Tuesday in gym class my hair got really sticky and sweaty. The hair kind of got real frizzy when it dried.

"Hey Jeff you need a haircut," my friend Brian said.

I just pretended not to hear his comment. Were people actually thinking I needed to cut my hair? I definitely wasn't going to be one of those guys with my hair cut short up over my ears!

Then at lunch time a few days later came the worst of my fears. I ate lunch with my three best buds, Brian, Patrick, and Jon. Patrick and Jon were cousins and were Mexican. They had both had really short hair since I'd known them. It was Brian that shocked me. When he came walking up to our regular lunch spot on the bench I noticed his long hair was now clipper short around the ears. He had about an inch of white walls around both ears!

I said nothing and didn't want to bring up. Patrick could not help but say something. The change in Brian's appearance was drastic. My best friend kinda looked like a little mini marine now. My heart sank and I felt out of place suddenly being the only one with long hair!

"Whoa, Brain that's short!" Exclaimed Patrick.

"Yeah I wanted it short, but maybe not this short," Brian says.

"It'll grow quick," says Jon.

"Hey Jeff, it's weird now you're the only one with hair covering your ears!" Patrick says.

"Why don't you cut your hair like ours now?" asks Jon.

"We've never even seen your ears Jeff," says Brian.

"Yeah let's see your ears Jeff," Patrick says.

I reluctantly lift the hair up off of both my ears. My three friends simultaneously check out my ears. I'm afraid they my notice how pointy they are.

"Cut your hair short my Friday!" Patrick yells.

"Yeah your ears don't stick out Jeff!" exclaims Jon.

"Come one Jeff, cut your hair up over the ears. You don't want to be the only one in jr. high left with long hair, do you?" asks Brian.

My throat went dry. I felt wizzy. Could this be happening? Just a few days ago I had feared this might come. I was now dared and pressured by my three best friends to cut my hair. It didn't stop here. For nearly two weeks all I heard was ," Jeff, when are you cutting your hair?"

At night I'd lay in bed and think of this. I could see no out. My friends didn't seem to be letting me off the hook. Could I get a haircut like Brian's? Those clipper short back and sides he had!

To top it all off Mark the bully had gotten his hair cut short too! He grabs the side of my head as usual and shoved it up between his legs.

"Cut this stuff off Nelson!" Mark yells.

Finally the time did come when I did need a haircut of some kind. I went to the barber alone. It was about a five minute walk from my house. That trip to the barbershop was a nervous moment. I didn't know what to do. Tell the guy clipper short or just a trim?

I got to Ron's Barbershop around 4:00. Two people were ahead of me. I sat waiting and contimplating what I'd say. I had three choices. Just a trim. Cut it up over the ears. Or that dreaded cut it clipper short up over the ears. I sat there practicing this over and over in my head. The third choice would surely get my peer pressure friends off my back.

"Looks like you're next," the barber says.

I reluctantly walk knees shaking to his barber chair.

I'm in that big leather chair. I can barely get the words out now.

"How do you want it?" ask the barber.

"Clipper short up over the ears," I manage to say.

"Nice and tight?" he asks.

"I guess," I say.

This was the moment of no turning back! I hear those big clippers snap on. The hair quickly comes falling off around me. I get kind off panicked. I want to get out of this chair. It's too late!

I feel the vibrating metal blades shearing my long brown hair down to the nub on the sides. I realized no hair with cover my pointy ears now! This is it. I'm going to school tomorrow and I'm going to look like Brian, the mini marine. It seems like forever that I'm stuck in this chair. All kinds of different clippers snap on and off. The each sound different. I hear a snip, snip on the top of my head. Water being sprayed on it. Then another set of sharp clippers on my neck. Then the blowing of a blower putting cool air all around me.
Then comes the mirror. I look and noticed it's me just so unrecognizable. The hair is nicely parted and wet on top. It's the sides that shocl me. It's zero! It's even shorter than Brian's. Did I make some terrible mistake? There are those point ears. Somehow they don't look as bad as I thought. I did it, I cut my hair off my ears. It's over!





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