Uncle Dan by Linus
My own father was gone for much of my teen years... so my mother's bother "Uncle Dan" used to step in every once in a while to help with my rearing. One time when I was 17, my hair had finally reached my shoulders. My father had been gone for 11 months at that point, and I couldn't be happier with the option to grow my hair that long. I thought I was some kind of cool until my uncle showed up the first tuesday of summer vacation before my senior year. He'd shown up to re-tile the kitchen floor for mother... and once he got to a stopping point he told my mother "i'll go ahead and take David for a haircut while this dries... two birds with one stone"... i heard this from upstairs and bolted to the mirror to look at my beautiful brown hair. It was thick and sleek and slightly wavy. Uncle Dan had his own salt and pepper hair cut into a very nondescript clipper cut. Nearly an inch on top, and quickly tapering to a number one on the sides. Very thick like mine, but so brutally cut. It was a classic military cut... a throwback to his years in the Navy. My mother sighed "oh David probably won't be wanting a haircut at all, Danny"
"Nonsense! he looks ridiculous with all that hair. let me take him downtown to Reynold's Barbershop and get him back to looking like a decent member of this family."
"i don't know..." my mother said faintly... I was listing from upstairs hoping she would save me from this nightmare her brother was about to inflict on me.
"DAVID!" she called up to me.
Damn. I was screwed. I took a long look at my hair in the mirror before i called back to her "coming!" This was gonna suck.
I slowly walked down the stairs to see my Uncle Dan smiling, and my mother looking at her feet.
"David, your uncle wants t-" she was interrupted
"Get in the car, Dave." Uncle Dan growled.
all i could manage was "but, i" before Uncle Dan barked
"Go on, Dave... NOW"
I tried to steady my breathing as i sat down in Uncle Dan's pickup. He slid into the drivers seat and lit up a cigarette before he turned the key.
"Yer Daddy's been gone for a year now... and Im willing to bet he won't be happy about all that hair you been growing, Dave." he let out a big cloud of smoke.
"I don't think he really cares that much..." i said.
"Well he should. and I do. and i don't wanna hear any bitching about it, you hear me?" Uncle Dan locked eyes with me.
"Uncle Dan, I dont rea-"
"Yes you do really need a haircut, and as i said, i don't wanna hear any lip from you, little man"
I swallowed any protest i could think of during the 18 minute drive to Royal Barber Shop near the military base. My own father didn't care this much about my hair. This was an Uncle Dan thing.
"Uncle Dan I don't really want to get my ha-"
"What did I tell you, Dave?" my uncle barked at me as he opened his door. I slowly, and sadly followed him into the shabby looking barber shop.
Once inside, my worst fears came to startling life. there was one barber about 36 years old with a very short buzz cut. there was nobody waiting and the barbers eyes lit up when he saw my shoulder length hair glistening in the afternoon sunlight spilling into the barbershop.
"So here he is..." the barber snarled... getting out of his own barber chair, reaching for the white stripe cotton cape draped over the armrest.... "sit down, boy."
I looked at my uncle. I didn't want to be here, and I really didn't want to get a haircut but my uncle had different ideas. He sauntered on over to the small row of waiting chairs and took a seat front and center, spreading his knees as wide as they would go.
"Take a seat, son" he said, crossing his strong arms across his muscled chest. "... this won't take long." he added dryly.
I looked at the young barber trying to communicate without words that I really didn't want to be here, but i was clear in his eyes that he loved his job, and couldn't wait to get me in his chair.
He whipped the seat of the old Koken barber chair with the cotton cape, "giddyup, boy" he said with a fake southern accent. My uncle laughed.
I sat in the chair. Every muscle in my body felt tense. The young barber caped me up tightly and began raking the comb through my hair. He had to take special care to pull my long hair out from the neck clasp of the cotton cape. it rested on my shoulders and shimmered in the shops harsh florescent lighting. My mind was racing... what did my former marine uncle have in mind for my beautiful hair...
"so this is the nephew" the barber said with a deep resonant voice. he was still running a comb through my hair.
"Yep, this is David."
My throat felt dry, i couldn't speak at all.
"Just like we talked about?" the young barber asked... setting down the cheap plastic comb on his work station and reaching for some scissors. Thank god, at least this wasn't going to be as short as Uncle Dans.
"Yessir" my uncle said with a wide smile.
I was too terrified to say anything as the young barber lifted up the 7+ inches of hair over my left ear and chopped it off. He set the handful of hair down in my lap as my eyes widened. Jesus, it was awful. Months and months of hair-growth snipped off in seconds. My stomach dropped.
The young handsome barber continued chopping off handfuls of hair, always managing to drop the pile right in my lap. The whole process took about 45 seconds but it felt like a life time. my hair was now 1-5 inches. Patchy. Completely ruined. My eyes welled up with tears as i stared at the mountain of silky hair in my lap. It was gone, and that hurt so very much,
My uncle caught my watery eyes... "Oh you're not crying, are you? good grief!"
I didn't say anything. The barber finished the last scissor chop right behind my left ear and i instantly felt ugly. He raised his arm above my head and dramatically dropped the handful of hair onto the huge mountain of dark brown hair in my lap. I couldn't see myself, but i could feel air on my scalp. I had no idea it was going to be this brutal, and i tried in vein to keep the tears from falling. But they slowly began to fall.
The barber put down the scissors and began to wash his hands. I thought perhaps the whole nightmare was over but I was wrong.
I heard the frightening sound of a pair of Oster 76s turn on behind my head. I recognized them from watching other lads gets haircuts in my salon downtown. But the big cold machine was sent up my sideburn and all the way up my head. I lost my breath when i saw an additional clump of hair roll down the cape to join the already impressive mountain of hair in my lap. This barber was using a #1 all the way up my sides. I was crying by this point, all my long hair being viciously chopped off was a nightmare come true for me.
The young barber made his way around my head with the Osters and finally the only thing left was the several inches left on top of my quivering head. It was obvious how much this barber was enjoying this major transformation. Then he turned off the machine to change the blades. He took out a large white comb and combed up my 5 inch bangs and ran the screaming pair of osters across the comb.
I was in a daze as the inches of my already shortened hair rained down on my lap. Clumps of gorgeous hair were falling lifeless to my lap. I was devastated, but i was also incredibly turned on. The young barber ran his warm strong hands up the back of my skull humming to himself. He selected another set of clippers and set about fading some line in my haircut. I had no idea how bad it was. All i knew was that it was short. Brutally short. I could see more hair in my lap than I ever knew I had!
My chair was slowly turned to the mirror and my heart broke. All of my glossy hair had been expertly clipped off to a brutal military flattop. a Horseshoe. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and I didn't see someone i recognized. He was a stranger. And he was crying. And he looked shorn.
"lets get you home" my uncle said, as the cape was torn off of me. I took one last look at my mountain of hair at the foot of the antique chair. My uncle put a big hand on my shoulder... he knew it was the hardest thing id ever done. He paid the barber and left what I imagine was a really big tip because the barber said "Really Dan, this was all my pleasure."
I stared at the floor as we exited the shop. The sunlight and fresh air felt so strange on my freshly clipped scalp.
We drove home in silence.