Danes Barbershop Experience by P.J.
( you may want to read "Joey the Barber" before you read this. It's set in 1977. It'll give you a bit of background)
Hi, I'm Dane, I'm a friend of P.J.'s and Bens, we go to the same school and I'm in P.J.'s class.
I'd noticed first Ben, then P.J. get these amazing new shag type haircuts over the last month. First Ben, then to my surprise P.J. coming in looking great. Very well trimmed, longish still parted in the middle, feathered bangs, and still long but layered on the sides and back.
My folks had been on me quite a bit lately do something about my extra long hair. It was just brushing my shoulders on the sides, bangs down to my chin, and almost to my shoulder blades in back. I thought it looked O.K. but knew I could probably use a trim if truth be told. My hair was a bit wavy, dark blonde and quite thick. It had probably been at least 6 months since I'd had the last trim at the salon. My Dad gave me an ultimatum this past Sunday...get something done about my "shaggy unkempt mop, or he would take me next Saturday and get it taken care of himself". This sent me into a panic. I wouldn't ever go with him to get it cut. I knew from years past that his barber would take me back down to the longish crew cut I always had as a young kid, or worse. Now I had to either go to my salon and get a trim, or...I could ask P.J. where he got that great looking cut.
I saw P.J. in class Monday, and finally got up the courage to talk to him. He was so HOT looking I was intimidated by him and usually got tongue tied trying to carry on a conversation. "P.J., can I talk to you for a sec"? "Sure Dane, what's up"? "Well I couldn't help but notice your haircut, It looks great by the way. Could you tell me who cut it or where you got it cut"? "Oh, thanks", P.J. ran his hand self-consciously through his plush dirty blonde mane. "Sure, I got it done at Joeys barbershop over by the airport. " "it's Joey signature cut". "I can go with you if you like and introduce you to Joey? He's a great guy." "Well I was just wondering where you went , that's all", Dane jabbered self-consciously. My dad said I had to get this cut buy Saturday and I'm undecided where to go". He die if he went with P.J. and had to have him watch getting his long locks cut off. A cut like P.J.'s would be a significant change for me he pondered. But it would look great if it turned out like P.J.'s or Bens. P.J. said "whatever you like, the offer to go with you is always open". "Thanks man" I said," I'll let you know". The week flew by and it was Thursday in no time. I just had tonight and tomorrow to get something done.. .or else.
I decided to swing by Joeys on my way home from school. I found the shop easily and parked close. As I approached the door I noticed that the shop was pretty well filled up. There were two barbers and about 6 or 7 guys waiting. I had to pick up my brother from football practice in a half an hour so I couldn't stay and wait. I noticed that they were open till 8:00 tonight according to their posted hours sign. I'll come back later after dinner. If that doesn't work they are open till 6:00 on Friday too. Before I knew it was 7:00. I hopped in the car and beat feet to Joeys. There was only one barber now, and a guy in the chair and one waiting. I could wait this time.
The barber nodded to me and smiled in greeting. I'll be with you in a few minutes son, have a seat, gesturing to the waiting area chairs. I noticed he had a white smock with the monogram Joe over the breast pocket. Great, this must be the barber that cut P.J. and Bens hair.
Joe finished up a smart looking flat top on the guy in the chair, judging by the cape and floor, he'd had a major shearing, there was black hair everywhere. His white skin shown through the closely cut sides and back of his new cut. He brushed his hand nervously up the back , feeling the stubby bristles, shook his head somewhat dejectedly, and walked up front to pay.
I couldn't help but notice that Joe had an expertly trimmed flattop haircut, darkish brown hair, looked like velvet on the sides and back, short but no skin showing, and a thick deep pile perfectly cut flat top. Great looking, if that's what you were into, I thought.
Joe soon walked back to the chair, did a quick sweep up. God that was a lot of hair, looked like it was all from the last guy too. Joe chirped "Next". The guy next to me got up and walked over to the chair and sat down. Joe caped him up quickly and said "what'll it be ?" I wondered what the guy was doing there at all, he had a longish business mans cut with a thick pomp in front. His bangs must have been fairly long, I thought to myself. His hair was plenty short already. He looked great, if you were into that short hair stuff. The guy said, "just clean me up today Joe, not to short". Joe combed his hair out all around his head and sure enough, his bangs were almost to his mouth. "I guess you do need to be cleaned up " Joe said, "we'll have you looking tip top in no time." Joe turned to the counter behind him and selected a large pair of slippers from the row of 5 hanging there. The guys was facing me, away from the mirror.
The clipper snapped to life and Joe proceeded to plow up the back of the guys head, at least half way up if I had to guess. A big hank of dark brown hair rolled off his shoulder and into his lap. Soon it was joined by a great deal more hair as Joe sheared the back and sides of the guys head. They guy didn't seem to mind though. God that was short. The sides were clipped well above his ears, and close in too. It made his bangs look ridiculously long in comparison. Joe switched clippers and proceeded to give him an almost bald taper along the hairline in the back and around his ears. Yikes, that was freakishly short.
Next Joe attacked the bangs and top. He slid the scissors in above the guys eyebrows and chop, chop, the thick heavy bang locks slid into the pile in his lap. Wow!, that's short I thought to myself. Joe proceeded to reduce the long thick top to about an inch long all over, then thinned it out some to lay better. He finished with a straight razor shave on the back and sides, carving high around the ears. Finally finished, Joe got a bottle of what I recognized from barbershop sessions past with my dad, as Bay Rum. He shook a small amount on his hands, quickly rubbing it on the guys neck and sides. The guy involuntarily quivered at the touch and sting of the rum. Joe spun him around to see himself in the big mirror, and got out hand mirror to show him the back. I could now clearly see the back, shaved at least half way up, and very little hair above that until you got to the crown. Good god, he really skinned this guy I thought. But the guy nodded and smiled and said "Looks great, thanks Joe". As the guy went up front to pay, Joe gestured to me to have a seat in the chair, he'd be right back. I thought I heard something in the conversation about a signature cut but wasn't sure. I was pretty much lost in my own thoughts as to what I wanted done.
Joe came back, did a quick sweep, and then taped and caped me with a crisp new cape. "Looks like you'll be my last customer tonight son. I can take my time and do anything you like. First time here?"
"Yes" I said, "you were recommended to me by a couple of friends. They both have your signature cut.
I think I'd like it too".
(Now Joe thought this was a bit odd, this guy had shoulder length hair and he was asking for a crew , butch, or flat top type cut., all his signature cuts.) "Is that so, well do you want it short, medium , or long."? Thinking butch, flat or crew. "Oh, long I think", that'll be a big enough change in itself I thought.
Joe raised his eyebrows and looked at me thought the big mirror. "That'll be quite a change for you son, are you sure"? Yes sir, I said, thinking of Ben and P.J.s great looking cuts.
"O.K., here we go" Joe said as he began to comb out my treasured mane. He turned me away from the mirror, just like the last guy, I thought to myself. Oh well, I couldn't see anything anyway, he'd combed my bangs straight down, they completely covered my face for the moment. I heard him rummaging through a drawer, then a couple of clicks and snaps, then he was starting to lift up the hair at the back of my neck. My heart was pounding... I was going to get a haircut , in a barbershop, that would look great, like Ben and P.J.'s. wow! I wonder what my folks will think. It'll be significantly shorter than it is now, and much more well groomed than my current shaggy mop. Hopefully it would placate Dad and I wouldn't have to get another cut on Saturday. He hadn't given instructions on what kind of cut I needed to get, just get a haircut, right, I thought again to myself.
I took a deep breath just as I heard the clippers snap on. Before I knew what was going on Joe had a firm grip on my head and had plunged the clippers in at my nape and worked his way most of the way up the back of my head. A huge handful of my precious dark blonde locks landed with a thud in my lap. I was momentarily speechless, what the f***! I thought. Before I could speak the clippers made a second pass, another huge pile of hair , looked like almost a foot long, landed in my lap. "Hey" I shouted, lifting my head up and shaking my bangs aside. What the f*** are you doing to my hair? "Hey, Hey, easy now" Joe calmly said. "what's wrong?"Joe asked. I said "it feels like your shaving off all the hair on the back of my head. I asked for your signature cut...what gives?" You're supposed to be cutting a center parted shag like my two friends have, over the ears, over the collar, and long bangs, I assumed that s why you asked short medium or long." I groaned, looking at the pile of hair in my lap.
"Son, there must be a misunderstanding here. I'm Joe, the owner, the cut you're describing is my son Joeys signature cut. He was the young barber that was here with me when you stopped by here this afternoon. I work the shop alone on Thursday nights. My signature cuts are the butch, flat top, and crew cuts. When I said short, medium or long, I meant, butch, flat, or crew. You replied long so I've just started cutting a crew cut on you." I'm VERY sorry.
I was furious. I'd made a very bad assumption that JOE was Joey. P.J. never gave me a description , or explained there was really two Joe's, not his fault either. I was a victim of my own assumptions, both on barber and cut. I said" O.K. what's a crew cut then, I'm not familiar with those terms, other that the flat top, that's obvious." Oh Boy son", Joe started . The crew is a generic term for very short clippered sides and back, and hair on top that's either clippered very short too, or finger cut to a little longer to be able to comb it a bit, but still very short.
My eyes popped, "holy s**t"! I said. tears started to fall , I was losing control of myself. "So that last guy in the chair, was that a crew cut" I moaned. Joe said, "well yes, that was a crew, a very short crew, he's a long time customer and I know how he likes his hair cut." Oh, MY GOD I said out loud, I'm going to look like him! " I can't, I just can't", I cried." I'll look like a freak"! Joe stood there calmly, clippers and comb still in hand. "Son... what's your name"? "Dane, sir". "Dane, this is a very bad misunderstanding, on both of our parts. Me assuming you knew what cut you wanted, and you assuming I was my son. I feel awful about this", He walked over to me and ran his hand up the freshly clipped portion of the back of my head. I instantly felt a new sensation, and was a bit nauseous at the same time felling how short it was. I pulled my hand out and ran it up myself. The tears started again, I couldn't catch myself in time to stop them. Joe said" the bad thing is that what I've already cut pretty much dictates how short the overall cut will have to be. We have a couple of options, neither of them will be appealing to you I'm sure, but here goes. I've only used a #4 guard for the starting cuts fortunately. The last guy had a #2 tapered to #1, then shaved on the sides and back. I took the top down to a bit less than an inch with the scissors. I think I can give you a short back and sides, leaving the top as long as possible, that's with a side part. That's one option. I could also give you an ivy, that leaves the top a bit longer but combed forward, the sides taken up short like the back. Then there's also the butch and flat of course." I moaned crying softly. "Oh and there's one more I think, I can leave the top somewhat disconnected, and long, giving you a pompadour type style. Your bangs would be a bit longer, say to your mouth maybe for that one. I'll give you a minute to think." "I know none of these are popular with you younger guys but I'm trying to make the best of the worst here for you, remember, its hair, it WILL grow back.
I pondered my options, none sounded even remotely appealing. My perfect haircut fantasy was shattered. I sighed loudly. "O.K., how about the pompadour? Can you leave the sides as long as possible nothing shorter than a #4? And start with the top ridiculously long, no matter how bad it looks. Please don't taper my sides or back any more than the #4. I'd like to at least not have that freshly shaved look." I sighed heavily again, resigned to my fate.
"Well, yes, that's a bit unconventional , especially no taper on the sides and back. I like everyone to leave looking freshly barbered. I guess given the circumstances we can overlook that this time. I'm guessing you don't want to look freshly barbered at any rate" Joe said. "God no!, no offence" I moaned. "I'll leave the top and bangs extra long and you can decide how short we go, how's that" Joe calmly stated.
I shook my head in the affirmative. Joe combed my bangs back down and the clipping started in earnest. As the long locks piled up in my lap I couldn't help myself , I cried softly for a short time.
( Joe thought to himself, wow, normally I'd be in heaven, buzzing down a kid like this from shoulder length to shaved. This kid has great hair too, nice and thick, a bit wavy, I just can't feel good about this though, knowing he is so upset and its partially my fault. HIs hair would have looked great with Joeys signature shag too. I may be a bit old school but I do appreciate a good head of hair and a good cut too, even if I think it's too long.)
Eventually the clippers stopped. The tears subsided. My lap felt heavy with my shorn hair, and my head felt very light and cold. Joe came around in front of me and combed my bangs down once again. "I'm thinking we start about here" Joe said, sliding the scissors in just below my nose. That would lop off a good three inches of length, but still leave them quite long compared to the rest of the now ultra short hair I now sported.
"Sure, I guess, O.K. " I said dejectedly. Joe gave a few good snips with the scissors, and the last vestiges of my once long mane landed in my lap. I was devastated. I was going to look like a geek. Joe got the spray bottle out and started combing my bangs straight back, getting the m good and damp.
All was quite in the shop, except the occasional Hmm or huh from Joe, as he combed and snipped, combed and snipped. Finally he stopped. he sprayed the entire mess once more to get it all damp, then got the blow dryer and brushed it and dried it. Next he got out some gel , squeezed it out, rubbed his hands together and started working it through the hair on top of my head. At least I can feel him working it through hair on top I thought to myself, I'm not totally bald. He did some more combing until he had it how he wanted.
"O.K. "Joe said. "I know this is not what you expected to walk out of here looking like when you came in. For that I'm truly sorry." "Let's see what you think, I've left it on the long side, even for me, we can always take more off if you don't like it. Joe spun the chair slowly around for me to face the big mirror.
I didn't recognize the person looking back at me. I turned my head and the head in the mirror turned too. Oh God, it really was me. Fresh water works. My treasured mane was gone, just about all of it. I had this longish pomp on top but that was all that was left. Joe got the hand mirror and tried showing me the back. All gone, nothing but a #4 buzz back there. It was all gone. I felt sick. Joe was watching me, a very concerned look on his face. "Sorry Dane, it's the best I can do, I know its waaaay to short for you". "You had really great hair too". "You sure you don't want me to taper the sides, let me at least shave your neck". "Sure, why not" I groaned. "it's all gone now anyways. It took me over a year to grow it out." Joe shook his head, "I know son, but , it will grow back, and it's not a crew cut". "Might as well be", I sighed. "No offense to you barbering skills Joe, but I feel like a freak". "Let me get your neck shaved then you can be out of here Dane", Joe said.
He quickly straight razor shaved my neck, brushed me down, and pulled the cape off. I stood up, weak in the knees, looking in the mirror once again at the stranger staring back. I quickly looked away, I felt the tears coming again. I mumbled thanks to Joe. He apologized again, and said "when it grows back enough, come back in Dane, I know Joey would love to give you HIS signature cut". "Yeah sure " I said and dragged myself out the door.
Wait till Dad gets a load of me now I thought, He'll be ecstatic. I'll never be able to face Ben or P.J. tomorrow at school either. Why couldn't I have waited till tomorrow!! Damn, Damn, Damn.