White Walled by Jonathan
It was a normal Tuesday afternoon sometime in April of 1980. I was in 8th grade at the time and thought I looked pretty hot. I had the perfect feathered hair that was still so cool at the time. It was 1980, but basically every thing from the late seventies had stayed the same. Clothes and hair styles were no exception. My hair was one of my prized possessions. It was light brown, over the ears, feathered in front and just down to my collar. I had a comb with wide bristles that I'd proudly comb my straight hair with slowly to impress the girls.
I knew when my hair would start to touch my collar my mom would say it's time for a trim. I'd go in, sit down and tell the barber, "Just cut two inches off and layer it a little."
This had been my routine for years now. Each time it was cut I'd always feel it was too short and hate it. This was despite the fact it was still long enough to fully cover my ears and usually still part and way down my neck.
I'd gotten home from school this Tuesday afternoon and dropped my beach cruiser bike in the patio and headed inside our one story track home. "Ricky, I'm giving you some money for food and a haircut, I'm going out tonight," my mom said.
Not that dreaded word "haircut!" Oh well I knew it was getting too long now any how. It was the longest it had ever gotten. I did like the idea of my mom being gone and me having a little freedom tonight.
She gave me the money and a small kiss on the cheek. "Be good tonight and don't forget to go to the barbershop," she said.
"Ok,ok mom, I won't," I assured her.
I went out to my bike right away and was more eager to buy some food on the way to the barbershop. I started off riding toward the small stripe mall just at the edge of our track. I saw some girls I knew out in front of a house on the way. I slowed my bike and circled around in front of their drive way. I knew I looked cool on that bike and continued to flirt and ride in small circles as I chatted with these two girls. My long hair was blowing slightly in the wind. After chatting and flirting abut 5 minutes I headed off for food and that haircut.
I rode on for not more than 5 minutes when I got to the strip mall near our track with the barbers and food places. Well I had to decide, haircut first or food. I looked into the window of the barbers and noticed not too many people inside. I decided to get the dreaded haircut over with before the wait might get longer later on.
I locked my bike with the small chain lock and headed inside the barbershop. It was bland, nothing too special in there. Four barber chairs, a counter with sinks and barber tools, liquids, etc. It was clean and tidy with lots of long tubed flouresant lights.
I sat down in one of the waiting chairs and right away a barber in his late 30's with a longer over the ears pomp haircut eyeballed me as if to say ok, come over here. "Haircut?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said.
I slowly walked over to his chair and realized only one other older guy was getting a real short haircut in the other barber's chair. He put a white cape around me and fiddled with the tissue and collar clip for a long while. I could feel his eyes trying to size up the situation with how long my hair was right then. He looked over my head once more. I felt a slight intimidating feeling like he was taking charge. I'd been to this barbershop many times prior, yet had never had my haircut by this guy. I'd noticed him there though cutting other guy's hair.
"Up over the ears," he said.
"Ok, that's fine," I muttered out.
I wasn't paying as close as I should have to his words right then!
He clicked and brushed a set of hair clippers behind my back and readied some stuff. Next he came at the side of my head with a large comb and the clippers. In an instant he lifted the hair off my right ear and cut it completely off. I could see my ear sticking out exposed in the mirror. Right away I could feel cool air hit that ear.
"Oh, I said over the ears, not this short!" I said.
"No you said, up over the ears," he reminded me. I realized I'd not actually said anything but "ok".
"No man, I wanted just a trim, that's it!" I exclaimed.
I could see there was no chance of turning back now. I saw the hair cut completely off my ear and realized my cool longer feathered hair might have to go. Why didn't I just say cut two inches off?
"Well I thought you wanted it up over the ears," he said.
I realized I'd been tricked. He said that little word "up" over the ears, not over the ears. I was doomed.
"Well it's too late now, we're gonna have to cut it short," he told me. I quickly sized up the situation in my mind as he picked up those clippers again with a slight smirk in his eyes. My pride was going to be cut off. My heart raced and my throat was dry. What would all the girls think of me now? What would people say?
What happened next only made things worse. I felt the blade off the clippers cut in real tight around my ear. He was really going to scalp me! He took this little accidental misunderstanding of his as a chance to cut my hair as short as he wanted. I sat helpless and mortified.
It wasn't long before hair was falling all over that white cape and the floor. I could see in the mirror that now both ears were sticking out. I hadn't had my hair this short since 1st grade. I'd forgotten what my ears even looked like. The sharp teeth of the clippers bit into my scalp on the back of my head next.
Just then a kid around high school age came into the shop and sat down in a waiting chair. "Haircut?" the other barber asked him.
The kid nodded his head. "Ok you're after this guy," he said.
Suddenly his curiosity was peaked when he noticed how short my haircut must have been turning out. He starred at me and wrinkled his nose disapproving it.
The clippers continued on effortlessly shearing off my hair. I realized this was a serious haircut. I sat wanting to run, cry or just do something. I felt trapped. Now this kid was watching my tormenting moment along with the barber.
Suddenly the clippers stopped. The barber turned to do something behind me. I reached a hand quickly out to feel the damage. I felt the bump on the back of my scull first, nothing but a skin feeling where hair once was. He turned back around and I quickly put my hand back inside the cape.
The kid continued to watch as the barber took thinning shears to the remaining hair on the top of my head.
"You going into the military bro?" the kid asked.
I said, "No."
"That's short bro!" he said.
I sat helples wondering how much longer this was going to take. Snip, snip, snip with scissors the barber went. More chunks of my hair fell into my lap. I could see he was leaving enough hair on top to make a part with. He wet it and put something, maybe gell or cream I thought.
I could feel it slowly coming to an end now. Then to my surprise the clippers snap on and run way up the back and sides of my head. They sliced to the skin tight.
"Whoa, you're white walled!" the high school kid said.
I could see my head was bald way up to a couple inches around my ears. I knew what he meant then by white walled. I was surprised at how my ears showed so much with this haircut. The barber finished up with some smaller clippers around the ears and neck. I felt like crying, but resisted for sure.
"White walled bro," he said again.
At last I was handed the mirror. I looked like some guy from the fifties, forties or something. I was bald around the bottom. The top parted and slicked down wet. No one had hair this short. What an ass this barber was! I rubbed the back and felt that slight bump on the back of my scull. I felt a small mole at the base of the hairline at the neck I never knew I had. I saw my ears sticking out more than I remembered them. I realized this wasn't growing back for at least a full year.
The mirror was put down and the cape taken off. "White walls!" he said again. I wanted to punch him as he looked close to examine my shaved back and sides one last time. I gave to barber a dollar reluctantly and headed to get some food.