Heads turn by keepitshort
It was the early 1970's and a new headmaster had been appointed and had instilled a strict discipline regime which included full school uniform and short and neat haircuts for all boys. As a fourteen year old my interest in style and looks had become a huge part of my life and I was not about to lose two years of carefull hair grooming without a fight. After the initial two weeks amnesty for complying with the new rules had elapsed and my locks still intact, things had come to a head. A home visit from the headmasters chief henchman , Mr Woods an ex army p.t. instructor had resulted in an ultimatum, haircut by Monday or school suspension.
I dug my heels in and turned up on the Monday hair intact and was immediately sent to the headmasters study along with two other boys who although had their hair trimmed it was deemed not short enough. A phone conversation with my tearful mum and, I had , for her sake, agreed to get a trim although I was unaware that part of the deal was that Mr Woods would witness my haircut. I was to be taken along with another boy , Charlie, by Mr Woods to ' Brown the Barber' the towns local hatchet man, and the unofficial school barber the majority of the boys going there for their regulation haircuts. Before we left the headmaster's study he scribbled a note folded it into a brown envelope instructing me to give this to the barber.
We entered the shop and the owner Mr Brown who obviously was expecting us , gave an nod of recognition to Mr Woods Charlie was ordered up first and reluctantly made his way to the old black leather chair. As Mr Brown caped him he asked Mr Woods 'Regular short back and sides?
I could hear the relish in his reply ' Extra short please Mr Brown, well clear of neck and ears these two lost their chance of a regular'
Mr Brown gave a little shrug then set to work on Charlie who's hair wasn't nearly as long as mine as it lay just on his shirt collar and was to the middle of his ears although he had tucked it behind his ear to try and disguise how long it was . The silence of the shop was filled by the loud hum from Mr Brown 's clippers then a loud rasping noise as their teeth clattered against his comb and Charlie's carefully combed side hair floated to the floor shorn a full inch above the tip of his ear. I screwed my eyes closed knowing that in a few minutes it would be my crowning glory on the vinyl floor. Mr Brown was methodical as he pushed Charlie's head around clipping and scissoring as he went and mounds of hair were hitting the floor.
I could see Charlie's scalp showing through above his ears and automatically ran my hand through my thick luscious locks, and noticed Mr Woods looking at me with a satisfying smirk on his face. I heard the Barber tell Charlie to lower his chin and watched as he produced a cut-throat razor and shaved a high arc around his ears and remove all the tiny bristles on his neck up to the bottom of his ears, then the cape was released and Charlie jumped down from the chair as fast as he could.
My moment had come as Charlie slid off the chair his hand immediately reached round and felt the back of his newly scraped neck , as Mr Brown flicked any stray hairs from the chair his eyes met mine and he motioned towards the seat. As I took the few steps to the chair he flourished the nylon cape like a matador then pulled it tight round my neck securing it as tight as he could , he pumped the chair up with his foot and I saw myself rising in the mirror as he flicked my hair to one side with his comb he uttered the statement to Mr Woods 'same again? '. Before he could reply I fished the small manilla envelope from my trouser pocket and pushed the cape out the way handing it to Mr Brown and uttered ' The headmaster asked me to give you this sir'.
As he read the note he looked at me in the mirror then continued to part my hair with his comb, then asked as he selected his large black clippers
' did you really think you would get away with leaving it like this ?' He lifted the hair covering my right ear with his comb, switched on the clippers and ran the blade of the clippers across the teeth of his comb shearing my hair to no more than half an inch long , my shorn locks bouncing off my shoulder as I replied ' no i don' t suppose i did, sir'
As he selected the next lock he nodded gently ' well I've to make sure you won' t forget again in a hurry ' and hed continued lifting and shearing my hair off all around my head, then running his cippers flat against my scalp leaving me with an undershaved bowl cut barely quarter of an inch long and a mound of hair on top.
Next he combed down my fringe wich touched the bridge of my nose , took his long pointed scissors and snipped it off from temple to temple square in the middle of my forehead.Even although I knew what was to happen to me it still came as a bit of a shock as I watched my hair fall into my lap thinking how long it had taken me to grow it to this length and here it was gone in a fraction of a second. He produced his thinning shears and proceeded at an impressive speed of three actions shear, comb, scissors against comb and a clump of harvested hair fell into my lap, as he worked i saw my head growing smaller as the bulk of my hair was removed and the remainder lay closer to my scalp.
As he once again pulled out his long pointed scissors he wet his comb in the sink and using it to dampen my hair he combed it into a definite right side parting , then he selected a small lock of hair and cut a little off three times until he was happy that it was the shortest he could cut it but it would still lie flat. Once he was happy that the required length had been established he wasted no time in combing and snipping ,showering me with damp clippings varying from 3/4 to over an inch in length and leaving barely 3/4 inch still attached to my scalp. At last he was happy and was behind me sprinkling some sweet smelling pink liquid onto my scalp then he vigoursly rubbed it in ,finally combing my hair into a sharp side parting which shone with the lotion , there was a distinct line between the shorter sides and presumably back and the slightly longer top , and i was surprised that he hadn' t outlined my neck and ears as he had Charlie.
I saw Mr Woods call the barber over and a utter a few words to him finishing with ',I take full responsibility '
I was surprised as Mr Brown opened a drawer and withdrew an old school cap which he placed on my head pulling it down tight, the cap felt too small for me and i was unsure why he had put it on me , but soon i knew as he reached once again for his clippers. Holding the cap firmly in place with his left hand he placed the teeth of the buzzing clippers against my scalp following the edge of the cap all around my head . He switched the clippers off and removed the cap , i saw a thin white line all around my head where the clippers had been and realised what he meant by telling me I wouldn't forget this haircut in a hurry.
He combed any stray hairs that had been displaced by the cap back into place then pushed my chin to my chest, I felt cold steel on my neck then a strange clicking sound and I felt the short hair on my neck being pulled tight and I tried to pull my head upright but Mr Brown held me firm as he used his manual clippers to shear me even closer than his electric machine could. I felt sick as he let my head up and sheared high around my ears up to the line he had previously created what was left behind was little more than bristles.
At last he was finished , he loosened the cape and lowered the chair. I sat there staring into the mirror and looking at the mound of hair around the chair , I reached up and touched my hair on top which was now drying and going stiff, I turned my head and looked at the white line running round my head , Mr Brown was handing me a broom ' sweep this up now' .
As I gathered my sheared locks into a neat pile I was constantly peeking into the mirror at my now jet black smoothed down short back and sides , with the distinctive line , I was also aware that both Mr Brown and Woods were studying me , it was Mr Woods who spoke up ' Something the matter with your haircut, or are you just admiring it ? ' I felt the colour rise in my cheeks as I stammered ' No sir, I mean , well it's just ' and my fingers ran up the sandpapered side of my head to the white gap in my hairline.
' Come on boy , out with it, if you' ve something to say spit it out! ' Mr Woods barked.
I took a deep breath and touched the side of my head ' it' s these lines sir, they ehm, can they be sort of ... '
Mr Woods burst out laughing ' so the boy who didn't want to get his hair cut is now asking for two in one day , what about that Mr Brown? Well boy go on tell Mr Brown what you want and see if he will oblige'
I could see Mr Brown looking at me as I swallowed hard ' Mr Brown can you please ehm ,and again my hand reached up to my hair ' cut the sides and back of my hair so that I don't have these lines ?'
Mr Brown slowly shook his head ' I' m afraid that can't be done ( my heart sank I was stuck with these lines) you see the clippers have sheared your hair to the scalp , cutting it will make little difference, the only thing I can do is shave the sides and back with my razor, is that what you want?'
Before I could answer Mr Woods was on his feet and at my side obviously filled with excitement ' Well boy there you go, tell Mr Brown to shave you down to skin tight , bald, go on, your choice remember and young Charlie here will witness that'
I realised that I had been tricked and took a deep breath ' Mr Brown would you please ehm please , and I looked at Mr Woods, please keep my hair looking just like this when I come in for a tidy up, I know it's not what I would have picked nor do I think it is what you would have either, but I don't want to dissapoint the headmaster'
Mr Brown smiled at me saying ' that will be acceptable ' and Mr Woods was uttering along the lines of ' you can't I mean it looks ridiculous ....' and at that I turned winked at Charlie and we left the shop.