Barber does Good by Orfeo
I m a barber in a inner-city shop and seem to cater to mostly professionals, so there are few short cuts, but every now and then ..
I had just finished with a customer at about 4:55 and thought I would close up a little early, when a young teenage boy and what was probably his father walked in. A professional and his kid; normal customers.
You re still open? the older guy asked. He looked 40 with thick brown hair in a longish taper cut.
I was just about to close, but I can do both of you.
We can come back tomorrow we wouldn t want to put you out the father replies.
Nuh, it s fine. So, who s first? I ask.
Me the kid says, walks towards my chair and takes a seat.
I put cape around his neck and ask How do you want it?
I want a shaved head the kid answers.
He s wanted to shave his head for awhile, and we ve been trying to convince him not to. But my wife and I have finally accepted that it is going to happen. He was so excited that he wanted to go to the barber now .hence why we re here late in the day , the father states.
Okay. And you re sure that s what you want? I ask, just checking.
Yeah he replies starring into the mirror.
I grab clippers from the bench and remove the guard covering them. I turn them on, and press the leaver to the shortest possible position. The kid s hair isn t particularly short; an inch or so on the sides and a few inches on top. It is very blonde. Putting my hand on the top of his head, I tip it forward until I have a clear space at the back. Putting the clippers at the nape of his neck, I slide them up until they reach the crown. Blonde hair tumbles down, revealing a very pale back of his head; in fact, the mere stubble remaining is difficult to see. Moving to the left of my initial swipe, I pass them up again revealing more of his fair scalp. Another pass and the back of his head is clear. I move onto the left side of his head. Starting at his sideburns, I run the buzzing clippers up clearing another part of his scalp from hair. Two more swipes and this side is done. The measly stubble that now lines this side of his head is more evident in the afternoon light: the short dots of hair seem to glow, but this doesn t takeaway from the lack of hair. I repeat what I did on the left of the right surface of his head and he is now left with a brush of hair on the top of his head.
I place my hand of the back of his head to stabiles and have the first feeling of the sprinkling of hair lining that area. It feels great and I wish could rub it a bit more.
Now you re sure? I ask again
Yep he says smiling at me in the mirror. I guess we re both enjoying it. In my right hand the clippers buzz loudly as I move them towards his forehead. Eventually they meet hair and change timbre. As I push them back a stripe of pale skin emerges and a clump of blonde hair builds up until it falls off the back. A few more trails of the clipper and his head is bare.
I turn off the clippers and put them down. I run my hand from the front of his head along the top and down the back, and then reverse the journey. It feels .stubbly and it mostly the same length, not that it matters for what comes next.
Do you want to feel?
The kid shakes his head up and down, and gets an arm out from behind the cape to give it a good rub. Dad have a feel he says, and dad who has been watching the process rapturously gets up and has a little feel. He looks a little timid.
Well it is defiantly short. I hope you re happy. At least you don t look so bad with short hair he says before sitting back down.
As I prepare the shaving implements I look up and I think the kid looks great. I grab the hot towels and place one round his head. After a little while I remove it and begin liberally applying shaving cream until the whole back of his head to the crown is covered. Again placing my hand on the top of his (now almost clear) head, I tip it forward. Grabbing my straight razor I slowly start removing the remaining stubble is small strokes. After I ve finished the bottom right corner, I stop for a second to have a serious look. The youngster s scalp is milky pale and looks good if a little bare. Scrapping the left hand side clear of hair I lightly rub with my left hand thumb the stubble that does little to obscure the skin underneath. It doesn t take long to finish the back. Both the teen and his father seem to be wrapped up in the moment, being utterly silent, so the only sound it the scrapping of hair.
You doing alright? I ask.
Yep, fine .
Which side to do next? I think. I choose the left. I move over to that side and tilt the adolescent s head back up straight and then off to the right, giving me good access. I again swath the area in shaving cream. I start with his sideburn, scraping the razor up towards his crown and then wiping the remnants of his hair on a towel on his shoulder. It s only a few minutes before I move onto the right hand side to repeat myself, and with a final scrape the sides and back of his head is clear. There is now only a very pale patch of stubble covering the upper surface of his head.
I tilt his head back up and cover the top of his head with shaving cream. He now looks a little bizarre. I step behind him, a little to the right and place my left hand on the cleared back of his head. The area is absolutely smooth and very soft. Starting on the right-hand side near his forehead I shave in lines about an inch or two wide from the front to the back
With those last few strokes I shave the last of his head. I wipe his scalp of with the damp cloth and then check for and remaining strands, which involves rubbing my hands over pretty much all of his head. I find a little bit in the left side, so I recover that with shaving cream and with a few strokes have cleared it. Undoing the cape I shake all of his hair onto the floor.
I remove the cape and the kids hands go straight to his head. He looks very happy. I look down at my watch. 5:26.
The youngster says it isn t what I expected it to feel like
But it does feel alright doesn t it?
Yeah" he says.
Dad s hand also goes straight to his kids head.
So, Did you want a haircut? I ask
Um his hand now leaves for his own hair, Would that be alright?
Yep I respond.
He takes a seat and I wrap the cape around his neck
So I ask
Just a taper cut, not too short
Why don t you shave you head? Like me. His teen enquires.
No. I d look bad it just isn t me.
I don t think you would look bad; different yes. Your face is slightly square-ish and at the moment your hair kind of rounds the corners and softens the edges. With a shaved head this wouldn t happen, so you would seem .harsher, I suppose, your jaw and eyebrow ridge would seem more distinct and firmer. I counter
So do you think I d look better he asks, looking interested in what I ve just said Well, I guess it depends what kind of image you re trying to portray. And even if a shaved head isn t for you, you d be surprise how fast it grows back.
I don t know .
Why don t I give you a buzzcut, let say a quarter of an inch, and that will give you an idea of the difference a shaved head would make and if you want to go further than that
I pick up the clippers I used on his son and grab a guard. Switching them on, I tip his head down towards his chest. I place the clippers at the base of his neck and run them up to the crown. Hair tumbles off, showing a pale scalp between short stalks of brown hair. He makes a groaning sound, so I ask him if he is alright.
Yeah, yeah he answers
I run them up on either side of my initial swipe, virtually clearing the back of his head. I move on the right side, running the clippers around his ear and clearing the area up to his crown. Shifting to the left side, I repeat the process until only a circle of long hair is left on his head.
You ready? I ask
As I m going to be
Hair pours off as I race my clippers through the long hair on the top of his head, leaving behind a uniform brush of brown hair. A few more swipes and I m through. I brush off any bits of loose hair with my hands and a brush.
So what do you think?
He firstly turns his head back and forth and up and down, before reaching out from beneath the cape to give it a feel.
It actually is quite good .quite a bit better than I thought it would be
So you want to go the whole hog? I ask with a smile on my face, expecting a definitive no.
How long would it take to grow back to this? he enquires
A few weeks I state
well, then I ll go for it. He says
I pick up the clippers and remove the guard. I flick them on which causes a twitch in the guy. Putting my hand on the top of his head I place the clippers at the nape of his neck and slide them up the back. What was once a short brush is now dots of darkness on a pale backdrop. As I race them up again I compare the difference between his hair and his sons at this very short length. While the sons sprinkling of hair gave his head a golden sparkle, the fathers is more like a six O clock shadow. His head is also paler than the kids, but with a bit of sun that will change. By now I ve pretty much cleared emptied the back of his skull of hair. I shift to the right and then the left side buzzing away most of his hair. I then reach around and place my left hand on the back of his head, feeling the short stubble that remains and slowly buzz down the brush of hair on the top of his head. I m defiantly enjoying this, more in fact that I did the teen. Maybe it is because I had to convince this guy to give it a go.
Yeah. I like it. Won t take me long in the morning to get ready he says with a little laugh.
So do you want be to shave it down for you.
Yeah .um, do you have a normal razor, not a straight razor? I was cut with one in another barbershop and I don t really like them.
Yep, Mach III alright? I ask. He nods.
I grab a towel and wrap it around his neck. Putting my hand on the back of his head, I tip it downward so I can quickly clear the back. After spreading the area with shaving cream I grab a new Mach and start scrapping the hair away. This time instead of doing it in quarters, I scrape in lines from the bottom to the top of his scalp. When I ve finished the back, I wipe it off with a cloth then use my right hand thumb to search of prickly bits. When I don t find any I move over to the right side and cover that area with shaving cream. Again I move in parallel stretches from the bottom to the top of his head, starting with the sideburns. These razors give a different sound to straight razors, which I don t like as much but I m still enjoying myself. When this side is done, I move over to the left leaving the top for last. The left side doesn t take any longer than the right. Now to the top. Again I hold his head in place with my left hand covering the smooth back of his head. I quickly cover the top with shaving foam
I take it you re both happy?
Oh yeah say the teen.
The father says Yep. I m amazed at how different my head looks, particularly my face. It really does make it look firmer. I think I look younger.
Well, you both look great I say going over to the cash register.
So how much do I owe you? the older guy asks
$10 dollars each, so $20
He gives two twenties, and before I can give them back he says A tip. You re door says you close at 5pm it is now 6. You deserve it
Thanks I reply
I think we ll both be back in a week or two. Enjoy your evening
I think I already have .