It happened that Summer by PJ
It happened that summer...
The summer before 6th grade was eventful to say the least. Back home again after the big summer "chop" at the lake we found that new neighbors moved in across the street. They have 3 boys, the youngest, Jack, is in my class at school. He has a brother Ricky 1 year older, and another brother Ben, 2 years older. I wander over to check it out and we introduce ourselves. I hit it off with all 3 of the boys and we play together the rest of the day.
I'm more than a little intrigued by their hair as you might guess. Jacks is dark brown, pin straight, parted in the middle, and its cut like the Dutch Boy Paint kid, straight all the way around , below the ear, with bangs at the eyebrow. Interesting but not arousing.
Ricky's is cornflower blonde, very thick, cut below his ear as well , only he has a long fringe in front, nose length at least, and pushed off to the side. Mildly arousing.
Ben, takes my breath away, he looks like the kid from the barber shop only before the cut! Monster thick , chestnut brown locks, chin length on the side down to the bottom of the collar in the back with close to chin length bangs too, pushed off to the side. Pretty much blunt cut, naturally curling under. I was smitten, not by the guy, by the hair. (Who got to cut their hair???) That stirring feeling down below from the barbershop was back, only stronger this time, I was getting hard thinking about all that hair. Things were looking up in the neighborhood!
I already had a "best" friend Pete. He had a mop of gorgeous auburn hair. He came from a large family, the only boy among 5 girls. One of his sisters always trimmed his mane. That's another story though.
By now I'm beginning to tune in to what kind of haircut I'd want if I had my way. I definitely knew what I didn't want(ever again)! That was short hair! I don't like the guys with the 2 foot long pony tails that haven't been trimmed, but I don't necessarily want to see ears ever again either. Long bangs are a must have, floppy or not. Shoulder length, well trimmed, unthinned, maybe a couple of layers at the ends just so it had some style and didn't look blunt cut. The fuzzy neck has to be cleaned up too. Perfect! Ben was as near perfect as this got. Still get hard just thinking about his hair. His was not shoulder length...yet.
The Mom's soon got to know each other. Jackie(was the new boys Moms name.) During conversation of course mine brings up the fact that Jackie's boys have quite long hair, must be time for their summer cuts. Jackie explains that they've already had their summer cuts, she does them, and not just in summer but all the time. My mom gets quiet and contemplative, never a good thing. We all get to know each other better during the rest of the summer months. Spending time at each other's houses hanging out, playing basketball or baseball. Nothings better than watching Ben dribbling a basketball with that mane.
Summer progresses and soon it's time for school to start and the dreaded school picture haircut. Can't wait! Oh Barf! The guys across the street come over to play. Mom notices they've had their hair trimmed. Did your mom trim your hair? A chorus of yes's is the reply. Strange silence from my MOM. And not comment as to how good or in Bens case HOT they look. HMMM. My Mom mentions that I need a cut too. I see my chance...Could Jackie trim mine too? (Can't fault a guy for asking right?) Mom's reply is that she'll take care of me later. Oh GOD, what did that mean?
At the supper table its discussed that I'll be getting my hair cut after supper...tonight. Oh Crap. This is new, I'd never been to a barber shop that was open at night. Hmm. Maybe she's finally capitulated and is going to take me to one of the unisex shops at the nearby mall for a "trim". That might be O.K. My tender locks were just starting to recover from the early summer session at the lake side "butcher" shop. After dinner I get the worst surprise of my life. Mom opens a new box that's appeared on the kitchen counter, lays out a brand new pair of Oster clippers, barber scissors, a comb, and as if I haven't already passed out at the sight of the clippers , Yikes!, thinning shears. She pulls the kitchen stool over near the outlet on the wall. Plugs the clippers in, oils them and clicks them on and off a few times. She opens up a new cape, unfurls it, looks at me and says " hop up on the stool and let's get started"! I nearly passed out from fright. My MOM, who needed to follow a pattern to sew by, thought she was going to cut my hair? With those clippers!? NOT! This was insane on so many levels. I thought I must be dreaming , or had stepped through a portal into a parallel universe! This was way worse than any of my previous haircut nightmares, bar none! Dad had mysteriously disappeared to another room.
Panic stricken, I yell for my DAD! Can he cut my hair? Can I just get a trim with the scissors? Please? OH please, can Jackie trim it? She does a great job on her boys hair. My father comes out to the kitchen, "Dad, will you cut my hair, PLEASE"? (I have no more faith in my Dads ability but he's a pretty reasonable guy, certainly better than Edward Scissor MOM would ever be) He shakes his head and says he has no idea how to go about stuff like that so, no, your MOM is going to have to do it. LIKE SHE HAS ANY CLUE HOW TO DO IT? "Dad, will mom be cutting your hair too"? I appeal to his sense of fair play, If I gotta, you gotta too. Mom pipes up and says Dads going to his barber later this week. Well can I go too? With Him? Please? All pleas fall on deaf ears, again.
I'm forced to sit on the kitchen stool, the cape is tightly fastened, and the tears begin. My dinner feels like it's going to come back up. The clippers click on and I'm borderline hysterical at the sound. Memories of all my past "butcherings" flash through my head. Dad tries to settle me down. Moms getting annoyed(not a good thing since she's wielding the clippers) I check the clippers out of the corner of my eye and to my extreme horror realize there is no guard on them, OH MY GOD! She has no idea what she's doing. She just touches the cold clipper blade at the nape of my neck and begins to push up! At this point my Dads trying to hold me still, I am very hysterical, screaming, sobbing and shaking. I pull away before the clippers can do any damage, and start to literally jump towards my DAD. He catches me and holds me, I'm a chubby 11(ish) year old so I just about knock him over. I'm trying to climb up him like a cat climbing a tree. And of course Edward Scissor MOM is advancing again with the clippers assuming Dad is going to have to hold me for the cut. By the merciful grace of God he holds up a hand to her and stops her. He asks if she can stop for a couple of minutes and see if he can settle me down a bit. Frustrated, cheated out of her big moment, she leaves the room, clearly not happy with the situation but at least observant of the abject terror in my eyes and the trauma she's inflicting on her first born. Dad sets me on the stool, picks up the clippers to move them and I jump and scream. He looks at me with a hurt expression. WHAT IS THE MATTER he asks? I manage to snivel out to please get those things away from me. I don't want them near me, ever, PLEASE! "O.K., O.K. " he says and moves them out of view. I tell him that this is NEVER going to happen. I'd rather have him trim my hair than her. I'd consent to getting a little trim, with the scissors, no thinning shears, and not too much off, even it out OVER my ears, NOT around them, and maybe even off the nape, We're not touching my bangs. NO CLIPPERS! PLEASE! And could you do it not MOM? She won't listen, she'll just chop it all off! I don't want to look like a dork again. I realize that MOM may have left the room but is not out of hearing range. I hear a loud huff from the other room.
Dad leaves the room to talk to confer with her, there's a somewhat argumentative consultation with MOM the deranged barber, they both come back in the room. MOM will trim my hair, with the scissors. Dad will supervise. Would I please calm down now? I take a deep breath, O.K. Mom starts to comb my hair down in front, it's only just now getting long enough to be nearing my eye brows, if I raise the up. She slide the scissors under them and prepares to snip a goodly length off. I Howl and pull my head back. Now what's wrong? YOU are NOT cutting my bangs, I want them to grow out like Bens. (oops, the truth is out) Now a 3 way argument ensues. MOM: Those boys have entirely too long hair, I can't believe Jackie lets them run around looking like that! Dad: Most of the boys today have longer hair, I don't see an issue with letting him look like everyone else, he's going in to Junior High, 6th grade after all. I couldn't believe my ears, MY DAD, who never challenges MOM was defending me. This wasn't going to end well for him, I was sure. My respect for him grew a lot that night. Me, I go for broke... I don't want a haircut at all! I want to let it grow out like Bens hair , I want it cut like his. (got nothing to lose at this point so got for it right?) MOM and Dad have a brief staring match with each other, I think I can see smoke coming from Moms ears... WELL! she says, at least let me trim around your ears to clean it up a bit. My hair has just grown out enough to start lapping over the top of my ears. NO! You can trim it too even it, but it stays over my ears. Mom's again staring at DAD. If looks could kill. Then I get the evil stare. He nods his head yes. With a huge exhale she puts the comb through the hair on the right side of my head, over my ear, and I feel a small snip. I see a few stray hairs slide down the cape into my lap. O.K. not very long and not many of 'em either. I still feel the tickle of hair over the top of my ear. Threes no mirror in the kitchen so I have no Idea how much been lopped off. I shudder and check DADS face, impassive as ever. I couldn't tell from his expression if she'd cut nothing or lopped off my ear lobe. She looks at DAD, he nods again. With obvious disgust at not being in charge she moves around to my other ear and does the same thing. She stands in front of me with a disgusted look to check and see if things are even. That's it she says? I give a fear filled nod yes to her and DAD. Looking pleadingly at DAD. He says Yes, I guess so, let's let it go at that for now. The "for now" part terrified me but at least I'd had a temporary stay of execution.
I have to say, in my entire life, I only remember my dad getting angry with me once. Even then it was a stern discussion with opportunity for defense on my part, then resolution to mutual satisfaction. I don't think I ever heard him raise his voice in anger to me, ever. He was extremely even tempered, he had to be to offset MOM. I was eternally grateful for his respect for my feelings that night.
That year's class picture at least depicted a semi normal looking boy instead of a freshly sheared dork.
I should also mention that by this time I had landed a paper route and a couple of other lawn cutting jobs and was earning my own money.
Shortly after the kitchen fiasco as it was later referred to, DAD and I had a brief discussion. Since I was earning money, could I take over getting my hair cut? Pick where I got it cut, how I got it cut, and pay for haircuts myself ? I had the money? I figured I'd start with him, he seemed to be able to run interference between mom and I. He would have a talk with Mom. I was stunned, again. I had a chance. Wow. Over dinner the next night my proposal was discussed. I knew Dad had already talked with mom about my request. Mom wasn't happy with this arrangement, at all, but... we could try it. With the following conditions: I kept my hair clean, neat and combed out of my eyes. And there was no complaints from school. Well of course I would do that (did I look stupid enough to say no to this?) surprisingly no mention was made of any length restriction, sides, back, bangs, sideburns, (oops, they come later on) none, and I was careful not to mention this omission. Now I was able to take matters into my own hands. Where would this lead? (turns out I'm pretty good with a pair of barber shears.)