Cody's Hard Lesson by P.J.
Sheeesh. O.K. Dad, I'll go, alright, already. I grabbed my hoodie and slipped out of the house. Wow, I hadn't seen Dad that worked up in awhile. I'm not sure what's up either. I'm Cody by the way. My Dad practically dragged me out of bed this morning, fed me a quick breakfast, and told me to get going. To the barber shop. Pete's Cuts. Dad was old friends with Pete and we'd been going to him for as long as I could remember. For me, I had stopped going last year, the winter of my freshman year. Dad had brought me in for another of Pete's brutal shearing's. My hair had just grown in from the back to school cut, and bang, there I was back for the Christmas Special. Practically shaved bald again. Well that had been the last time I'd been back there. It was now just after the end of sophomore year. Pretty much a full year and a half. Dad had occasionally mentioned that it would be a good idea to stop by Pete's for a trim. Yeah, right, I'd seen Pete's idea of a "trim". There usually wasn't enough left to comb, let alone tell what color your hair really was, it was clipped so short. I'd always said, yep, maybe, I'd think about it, then he would go quiet about it. He generally didn't mention it again until he'd been back with Jake , he and Jake getting their every 4-6 weeks cuts. Jake was my brother, younger by 2 years.
I now had what I considered a great looking head of hair. Shoulder length, thick chestnut brown, just starting to get some summer time highlights to it. I wore it with no part, brushed forward, usually covering at least one eye. My ears had been covered completely for at least a year now, thank god, I always thought they looked small and dorky. I loved the way my hair flapped in the breeze while I was on my skateboard. Because of that it always looked a bit messy, but cool. I also loved the way it slapped against my neck when I was running cross country. It helped me keep my cadence and rhythm.
All of a sudden though, I just had to go see Pete, why was dad being so insistent? He said he'd had enough of my shaggy mane and it was time to get it cleaned up. Either I could go by myself and take care of it or...he could go with me, my choice. I knew what would happen if he took me, I'd end up looking like Jake, all sheared up looking like I was 5 years old again. NO THANKS! I'd go by myself and just get it trimmed up. I'd be firm with Pete. Dad said he'd already taken care of paying Pete, just to get my shaggy butt down there, today! Or else. I guess I'd been sort of waiting for this, sort of, dad never said a word other than the occasional suggestion to get a trim, before this. He'd walk up behind me once in awhile and tug the shag hanging down in the back, and say, Oh, Sorry miss, I thought you were my son. That was usually followed by both of us laughing.
I lolly gagged around for the morning, hanging out with a couple of friends for awhile. I wasn't due to start my summer job till Monday so I was at loose ends, and loath to show up at Pete's until later in the afternoon. Ideally I'd like to be his last customer. That way I could get it trimmed and it would be too late for Dad to march me back if he didn't like it. At least till Pete opened again on Tuesday.
Before I knew it was 3:00. I boarded by Pete's shop on my state board, and checked out the number of guys sitting the bench. There was a guy in the chair, and 3 waiting. I turned around, and came back by again, just to be sure. Yep, 3 waiting. By my calculations it would take Pete till close to 4 to finish these guys up so I hopped off the board, and strolled in.
Pete greeted my warmly , told me I 'd have a bit of a wait, and nodded to the chairs against the wall.
I settled in, waiting and watching. Pete was his usual jovial self, kibitzing with the clients in a friendly way. I had time to take in the shop, nothing much had changed in a year and a half. Same red leather and chrome chair, Pete was a single chair shop. He and Dad had gone to school together, way back when. The black and white checked tile floors looked like they'd recently been stripped and polished. Pete had this huge walnut back shelf and mirror behind the chair, all highly polished, brought from and old barber shop that had closed. It had several drawers, a large shelf, and lots of hooks for Pete's clipper assortment, Or tools of destruction as I thought of them. Against the back wall he had a wash sink and chair, the only real modern touch that wasn't real barber shoppy. There was also an assortment of old haircut pics framed up and hanging above the waiting area, most from the 50's it looked like. I remembered staring at them while getting sheared, hoping I didn't turn out looking like any of them. It usually turned out that I looked worse, much worse.
I'd watched the last 2 cuts with a bit of interest, especially the last one. He was a kid a couple of years older than me. Long pony tail, probably to mid back. Heavy, thick, and sunshine blonde. Pete had actually given him a nice looking cut, just the lobes of the ears showing, and back maybe just covering a collared shirt. Middle parting, bangs at the bottom of the eyes, feathered back a bit. It looked kind of retro, you didn't see that kind of cut much these days. The shaved sides long top fade cuts were the fad cut now, they were everywhere. I hated them. The kid thanked Pete, shook his hand, paid and left. Well Cody, Pete said, you're my last cut of the day. He flipped the closed sign and locked the door. S**t..I was trapped.
Your dad said you'd be in today, with or without him. I'm kind of glad you came by yourself. He patted the seat and said, come on up bud, it's been awhile I see.
I took off my hoodie and dropped it on the waiting area chair. I slid up into the big seat, it was a bit smaller than I'd remembered, or was I just a bit bigger? Hmm.
O.K. Pete said, let's talk for a bit. Uh Oh, this had never happened before. Uh, Sure, Pete. O.K. Cody, did your dad send you in here today, Pete asked.
Well, yes, I replied. He was all of a sudden all over me to get my butt down here today or else. Frankly He surprised me. He hasn't made much of a fuss about my hair since we had our Christmas specials back a year and a half ago. I'd put up such a stink after that, I assumed he'd relented and let me wear my hair how I wanted it from then on. Till now.
Well, Pete said, you're somewhat right. After you put up such a fuss that last time you were here Your dad and I have had a talk about you every time he came in here. Usually if Jake was with him Jake didn't pay any attention to what we were saying so we could talk about you freely. Your dad felt that he should let you have your hair however you liked it as long as it was kept clean and neat. According to him you'd been doing O.K. until this year. It had gotten very long and was always looked unkempt and windblown. You never seemed to be concerned with how you looked.
Every time your dad had come in for a cut, he told me that if you showed up soon after, to just cut your hair however you asked. NO cheating, and chopping it short, and charge him for the cut. You never came in though. He was hoping that by suggesting that you come in you'd take the hint that you were beginning to look a bit sloppy and should pay more attention to your appearance. When he came in last week he said he'd finally reached his limit. He would either send you in on your own, or bring you in , but today you were going to get a good short haircut. Then maybe you'd start paying more attention to what you looked like. Uh, Oh. S**t I thought to myself, running my hand through my thick heavy locks.
Pete smiled kind of grimly. Pete said, Cody, your dad doesn't mind how long your hair is, in fact, he's commented several times that he wished he had hair that good growing up. He's very disappointed that you don't seem to care how you look though. So, I have instructions on how to cut you hair today. Since your my last cut of the day, I've been thinking, Pete said, I think a lot of you boys too, your dad and I have known each other forever. I'm going to take things one step further with you today. Oh s**t, this wasn't going to be good I thought. Let go back to the wash sink Pete said, waving his hand towards the back of the shop.
I thought it a bit strange, given the track of the conversation, but O.K. sure. Pete washed and conditioned my hair while continuing the conversation. You have a great head of hair Cody, he said. I can tell you for sure that if you'd come in at any of your dads previous urgings I would have gladly trimmed it however you asked, and shown you how to style it while you were growing it out. I'm not the enemy. I would have never sheared you guys up like your dad ordered while you were growing up either, but, he was the customer , and the customer is always right. I admit I do occasionally take advantage of the stranger passing through town and clip him shorter than he expects. But I'd never do that to you guys.
He sat me up, wrapped my hair in a towel, and walked me back to the barber chair. He capped me up, then towel dried my hair, and brushed it out. Combs never worked well for me, I had too much hair, and it was very thick. Here's what I'm going to do Cody, Pete said quietly. I cringed. Pete said, tell me how you want me to cut this, pretend that you are coming in on your own for a trim.
Hmm, this was an interesting proposition. I'd never really thought seriously about it. I sat for a minute, deep in thought. If you aren't sure what you want, I could make a couple of suggestions, Pete said. None of them would involve a brutal shearing either. O.K. Pete, let's hear it, what would you do, I replied. Well, Pete replied, answer a couple of questions first. Sure, I said, shoot. Is this as long as you want it to get, was Pete's first question. Well, I wouldn't mind it a bit longer in the back, but the bangs are getting to be kind of a pain, and I really don't have a strong opinion about the sides, other than the fact that I think my ears are too small for my head so I don't like them completely showing. O.K. then, Pete said, running his hands through my plush locks and fluffing them a bit. I'd just trim the back, maybe layer the bottom of it a bit, so it isn't blunt cut, just clean it up, take the sides up to the bottom of your ears, and maybe give you a left part instead of a center one, you can't yet push your bangs behind your ear, they need to grow a couple of more inches, so you'd have to either be patient, or trim them up till they aren't a problem for you. I'll make a deal, Pete said. I'll cut your hair just as we described. That way you can see what you could have looked like if you'd taken the initiative to come in on your own. Then I'll cut it the way your dad instructed, deal?
I thought for a minute, well, I said, I like the first part, but not the second. How about if we cut it the way I want it, and I just leave. Cody, really, Pete said, do you want your dad to drag you back in here Tuesday, and be subjected to his ranting instructions, in front of the other customers, and be embarrassed like a little kid?
I can tell you this, even though I'm not supposed to, Pete said, your dad is still going to let you grow your hair out again after it gets cut his way today, provided you take it upon yourself to keep it sorted out and looking good, he really doesn't care how long it gets, within reason of course. I can tell you though, as long as it is now does not doesn't bother him, it's just that it's so shaggy and unruly, and your indifferent about keeping it combed and neat.
You know Pete, I replied, I'd always thought if I came in on my own, after he'd suggested a trim, I'd end up with one of your brutally short cuts, like we always used to get. I had no idea you'd actually listen to me. I thought a minute, and then said, O.K. I guess you're right, I really don't want to have dad bring me back in on Tuesday to humiliate me in front of everyone so , O.K. let's get this over with I shrugged. I'm assuming that the first cut won't be the last one then.
Oh, no, son, not by a long shot Pete replied. He picked up the scissors and comb and proceeded to give me the cut we had agreed to. Once finished, he shaved my neck with the straight razor, a wholly new experience for me, then dried my hair. His running his hands through my still long thick locks felt wonderful. They were clean and shiny. Wow, It looked great too, ears still covered, the bangs maybe a bit long still, and the back was long and thick, it felt great too, I gave it a couple of flicks to move my bangs around and swing them out of my eyes. Well son, what do you think, Pete asked. I think it looks great Pete, I'd keep it like this for sure, I said smiling nervously. Give me your cell phone Cody, Pete ordered. I fumbled around under the cape, and handed my cell phone out to him. What are you doing I inquired? Show me how to take pictures with it, he said. I instructed him on how, and he snapped a series of shots all-around me , front back, sides and top. He handed the phone back and said, there , now you have a reference for me when your hair grows out again so I know how you'd like to have it. Ah, thanks Pete, great idea I replied.
Now, we come to the second cut of the night sir, Pete said. I hate to do this one though. Cody, you have a great head of hair and it will grow out again, like it is now or even longer, your choice. Because you didn't' follow through as your dad suggested though, he has requested quite a different look for you. Please keep in mind it's hair, it will grow out. Uh, Oh, this didn't sound good, not at all.
I was half expecting something like this, but still shocked when Pete picked up the big fast feed Osters, brushed my long locks apart in the back, and pushed my chin to my chest. The clippers touched down at my nape and slowly slid up the back of my head, all the way to the crown! A huge handful of my sun kissed chestnut locks cascaded into my lap with an almost audible thud. Oh, God Pete, what are you doing, I yelped. I'm actually being as lenient as I can, Pete replied, and still follow dads request. Oh, God, holy s**t, what exactly is dads request Pete, I yelped again, as he made a second pass up the back of my head. Handfuls of thick long locks sliding down the cape, thudding into my lap again. I was facing the mirror and could see Pete's every move, feeling my head get lighter with each pass. Your dad told me to give you a nice tight butch for the summer. A BUTCH! Pete, NO, OH GOD I moaned. Yes Cody, that's the penalty for not being proactive. I really hate to shave off all this gorgeous hair but, dads orders. Oh Christ Pete, really, I moaned again, he'd made several more passes up the back of my head, I guessed most if not all my hair in from the back of my head now lay in my lap. Your dad wanted me to use the #1 guard, and really scalp you good. I have a #4 on them now though, that 'll give you a good couple of weeks jump on growing it out. I'll taper the nape and sides around your ears a bit so it looks shorter there. He wanted me to give you shaved white walls too. I'm going to skip those...for now Pete said over the noise of the clippers.
Holy crap, I can't believe he is that peeved with me, wait till I get home! Oh yeah, Pete said. Your dad was quite adamant, he'd had it with you and the mop. Pete proceeded to strip the sides bare, exposing my ears for the first time in a year. Sheaves of my precious hair sliding down and landing in the growing pile with each pass of the hungry Osters. Hmm my ears didn't look quite as small and geeky as I'd remembered them. However, I looked ridiculous with practically shaved sides and back, and a huge mane of thick locks hanging from the top of my head.
Pete quickly remedied that though. Four passes with the fast feed clippers and my former glory lay in my lap. I looked and felt like a boot camp recruit. It wasn't literally shaved bald, but to me, after a great looking haircut, and long, long hair for a hear and a half, it certainly felt shaved bald. Man Cody, Pete said quietly, I really hated to do that to you. I do love a good shearing, don't' get me wrong. but you saw how good it could have been, I'm sorry man. This ones on your dad, not me O.K., Pete said quietly.
Yes, Pete, I get it, I said grimly. I'm going to have a rough night after I get home though I thought to myself. I wanted to kill my dad for this. I was going to catch a ration from Jake for this too.
Pete clipped the nape and around the ears to taper them in, more short hairs drifting down onto the pile. He offered to razor shave and white wall the sides again, but I refused, This is bad enough isn't it Pete, I stated quietly . He brushed me off, and gently removed the cape, the huge pile of my former glory sliding slowly to the floor. I stood up rubbing my freshly sheared head and shaking it sadly. Looking in the mirror, I couldn't believe who was staring back at me. The Number 4 with the taper gave it a bit of shape but Holy s**t, I had no hair.
Pete shook my hand, smiled sadly, and said, now look, come in before school starts and let me trim it so it looks neat. Trim, mind you. Come in every 6 or 8 weeks after that, and let me trim it and help you get it to where you want it. I assure you your dads going to be O.K. with it as long as you pay attention to it. You'll have a whole year to grow it out before senior pictures, unless you decide to keep it like this of course, Pete smiled wickedly then. I grabbed my hoodie and board, and walked out of the shop, deep in thought.
I might as well get on home, it was close to dinner time. I prayed I didn't encounter any of my friends on the way. They might not even recognize me now I thought. I was positively seething on the inside though. What was the confrontation with dad going to be like, I wondered. Why hadn't he told me about going to Pete's occasionally, instead of waiting and doing this!