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Fantasyland Barbershop: Prince Charming by Joseph Murray
It was like any other day in the palace. That is, of course, if you are someone who has lived in a palace your whole life. And Prince Charming was just like that. Having everything he could ever want or need. Whether it was his tutoring lessons as a boy on the many histories of the world, or his sparring turned sword fighting lessons as he grew older and more mature. Then of course, there were all the different etiquette classes he always was forced into, which he excelled at, and then the minute they were done he went back to being his joking, extroverted self.
In time, as everyone knows, he would fall in love and marry the girl of his dreams, a girl who went by Cinderella, and the whole kingdom adored their future queen. And so they began their lives together, going out hunting and hawking, or riding on horses, hosting various balls and engagements, and visiting nearby kingdoms to meet with other young royals like themselves.
So yes, today was like any other day at the palace, a routine of sorts, and one that after a while can become extremely boring if you have been living it for more than twenty or so years. Especially when your freedom was always restricted when you were next in line to be King. But the Prince yearned to seek out what lied beyond his kingdom and the others he’d visited. To spend some actual quality time in a "normal" life.
It happened on a Saturday, Prince Charming had finished his morning jog and work out session, followed by a healthy hearty breakfast and then a steaming shower. Cinderella was in bed after breakfast, flipping through Netflix to see what she could watch before she had to get ready for when she went out later in the day for an event. Prince Charming had the whole day free and saw this as his opportunity to seek out some adventure.
"I’m going to go out, dear," he said.
"Enjoy yourself," the princess said as her eyes were glued to the TV screen. And so Prince Charming took this as his opening. Not having to be obligated to wear official attire, he pulled out a pair of Jordans, jeans, and a baseball team t-shirt. He totally did not look like your average prince and would hopefully be unrecognizable to anyone today. He took a matching baseball cap and a leather jacket along too just in case he needed to hide out. Little did Charming realize he’d be looking to wear that hat much later on…
And off he went, out of the palace, the guards saluting him off and him saying he’d "Be back in a little while," with a wink and a grin. And off he went, not on horse, but one of the sports cars he was typically restricted from using. But today it would just have to be allowed.
He went to the downtown of his kingdom, there was a bit of activity going on, but nothing too crazy. No one paid him any mind. He’d put on the cap and jacket so no one must have been able to tell it was him. The first thing he did was stop in a Starbucks. He’d always heard about this place but had never been himself. Sometimes the kitchen staff and other royal servants came in to the palace before with cups of coffee from this place so he wanted to try it himself.
Waiting on line, no one noticed, perfect. And even better, when he ordered his coffee the barista didn’t freak out. Only Charming started to when the barista asked him, "And what’s the name?"
"Uh," s**t, Charming thought, didn’t think about this. He always went by Charming or Prince or Prince Charming. What was he to do now? On the other hand, a lot of people might not have known his real first name and hopefully no conclusions would be drawn, "Henry," he said with a cheeky smile.
The coffee had no milk or sugar in it. Charming found this odd, but then noticed a little table that had all the fixings he’d need. So he helped himself out and then found a spot at the bar up along the front window so he could do some people watching as he drank his coffee. It was nice getting to do something like this, so natural and normal that he wasn’t allowed to do on the daily. To think this was something other people did was crazy. Of course to them it was like routine Charming supposed, just like all the other things he had in his life that were routine.
After he was done with his time at Starbucks, he decided to stroll through town and check everything out, do some "window shopping" as he had heard it called before. He turned down each little street until he stumbled upon a small alley. One of the storefronts he spotted immediately used an iconic font with its headboard saying "Fantasyland Barbershop". Charming had never been to an actual barbershop before, he usually was just attended to by one of the royal barbers who came in occasionally to take care of the prince’s look. But Charming was tempted to walk right into this shop, as part of his seeking out adventures he had never done before. Through the frosty glass windows he couldn’t tell if anyone was in there. If there was and it would be a wait, the prince would just coyly say, "I’ll come back later".
Prince Charming opened the door as it made a dinging sound from the bell hung on the top. He entered the barbershop to see only a few barber chairs lined up in the whole place, and just one barber sitting in the middle chair with a newspaper. This shop had an old time feeling, with the wood floors and the wood walls, and the dark chrome chairs and black leather seats. And the one entire wall covered by three massive windows that made the barbershop feel bigger than it really was. The barber sitting in the chair lifted down his newspaper and turned to his left to see Prince Charming standing by the doorway, taking in the sight of this place.
"You need a haircut son?"
Charming was startled by this unprompted question. There was no one else that seemed to be waiting. It seemed like everything was setting into motion, and that barber’s chair almost sounded like it was calling his name to it. "Yes, sir, please," Charming said with all the might of his etiquette classes taught him.
The barber put down the newspaper in the one chair over from him and he stood up, walked over to Charming and said, "No need to call me sir now, son. Just call me Walt," he shook Charming’s hand firmly and Charming did the same back to him, saying, "Henry," with a soft smile.
"Well, come on now, Henry, let’s get you in that chair and looking sharp," Walt said with a twinkle in his eyes, as he motioned one hand back towards his barber chair. Charming took one big gulp so big that he could feel his Adam’s Apple throb up and down his throat, and then nodded at Walt and followed him to the chair.
Charming sat down in the barber chair as Walt picked up a red and white pinstripe barber cape from the chair over. A loud CRACK! in the air as Walt brushed it off, making Charming jump a bit. The barber slowly graced the cape across Charming’s body saying, "Hope that didn’t scare you son,"
"No, no, just a bit of a shock," Charming responded, sounding a bit timid all of a sudden, now that he was at the mercy of this stranger.
"Don’t you worry there, your highness, I’ll take good care of you," he replied back with that same twinkle in his eye.
Your highness? What? Oh no, Charming began to think, he must know. "Your highness? Walt, what do you mean?"
"I think we both know, son," he said. "I knew right away, I have an eye for things, you’ll see."
"Oh, I see," Charming responded, seeming a bit more calm now but still unsure.
"Can’t say I’ve ever actually gotten to have the likes of you before in my chair. Prince Charming, how lucky could I be?"
"Pretty lucky I guess!" the prince managed to stammer out.
Walt laughed back, and I decided to laugh a bit too, but mine was a bit of an awkward laugh to fill the space. "I knew it was you, this dark black hair, nice and greased and coiffed. Perfect for a prince I’d say." Which was true, Charming had always looked this way, so maybe these other clothes he had on really couldn’t fool anyone. Walt then took a tissue and wrapped it around Charming’s neck and asked him, "So where is she, the princess? Cinderella? Correct?"
"Yes, yes Walt, sir, that would be my wife. She is at home right now."
"I see, not out trying on some new "shoes" is she?" Walt said with a laugh.
Charming chuckled back, "No, no I don’t think so. Not today, sir."
"Hmm," Walt hummed to himself as he went to the station in front of Charming, picking up what was a very large pair of clippers. Charming had never seen such ones like that before, only the smaller kinds used to clean off loose hairs around his neck and face. "That’s okay, I think we’re going to have you try on a "shoe" today, sounds good?"
"I think that’s a different store, Walt."
"No, no, not no glass slipper. That’s for your wife," Walt clarified. "I’m talking about a different kind of shoe, a shoe for you! For real men," he said with that same twinkle in his eye.
Now Charming was very confused by what the barber was talking about. But he didn’t know what to say or respond, so he just shamefully asked again, "What kind of shoe?" with a little quiver to his voice.
"You ever heard of a horseshoe, son?"
"Yes," of course Charming had, practically was raised on horseback riding.
"And have you ever heard of a flattop?"
Now this term the prince had not. Never heard of this term, perhaps it was for a different animal? Or a nickname for some sort of tool? "No, what’s a flattop used for?"
At this Walt was laughing again, but Charming did not join in. Once the barber stopped laughing, he finally stated, "Well then, clearly you’ve never heard of a horseshoe flattop. It’s a type of haircut, son. I think you’ll like it, you and your shoes," chuckling again.
Prince Charming didn’t have a moment to whip out his phone and Google what this sort of haircut would be like. What on earth could this haircut be like? Would it look good on him? Or is this all some joke that Walt wants to take credit for? Sitting there and gulping big again, not taking a deep breath in, Charming waited for the barber to stop. Of course he could have gotten up and fled the shop, but something about this experience was still hinging on Charming’s whole idea of a day with new experiences. This surely seemed like it was gonna be one, so why not just have it.
"You ready, son?"
Charming finally took a deep breath in and said, "Yes, sir, I’d like my haircut to a flattop horseshoe."
"Horseshoe flattop, and we don’t say it that way. What you say to the barber when you get the haircut is, ‘Shoe me!’, you got it?"
Charming stared at himself and the barber through the mirror. What was he about to get himself into? "Okay, shoe me, please."
"That’s what I like to hear," Walt said, and with that, the clippers roared to life like Charming had never heard them buzz like before. And before he knew it, they were right at his right side underneath his sideburn.
BZZZZT! and all the way to the top they went, leaving a bare path of skin in its wake. Charming could just feel the breeze against it as his eyes bulged out at the mirror. Walt paid no mind to him, as he continued to buzz off the rest of that side, not paying any mind to his customers awareness. Crap, that was a lot of hair, Charming thought to himself. And he took it all the way up towards the top! For sure Charming almost thought he was going bald from that first stripe. Boy was he in store for some more.
Walt continued to buzz off the right side with no attachments to the clipper, and then moved on to the left side of Charming, still making no conversation, just letting the prince soak it all in. Charming watched as his gorgeous, dark hair fell to the floor and on top of the pinstripe cape, a drastic contrast. And man, was that a lot of hair! Walt was sure making quick work of it! Oh Charming had never had a short haircut like this before, so he was really getting a treat after all these years. Interested in seeing where this was going, he was still slightly nervous.
Eventually when Walt finished the left side, he moved to the back of Charming’s head. As he passed one big swipe right up the back of Charming’s skull pass the occipital bone, this was a whole new feeling. Wow, was all Charming could think, he was really letting this strange shave his hair off. Who knew this would happen today of all the things. The Starbucks coffee was nothing compared to this. Charming could feel it more and more as Walt was clipping off the back of his head and then reevaluating the parts already done to make sure he got it all.
When that seemed to be done, it surely was not. But Charming had no idea! Turning off the clippers for a second, Walt blew quick air on them to loose a few stray hairs. Then fired them right back up and finally made the most important mark of the haircut. Seeming to not be done with the back, the barber took one big cut off the top and in this moment, Charming thought he was about to become bald after all. But then Walt stopped, a fair distance away from the front. Why was that?
"Aren’t you going to shave it all?" Charming asked.
"Not at all, son, this is the most important part. The horseshoe part! You’ll see, I got carve one out on the top of your head."
Oh no, Charming now didn’t have to ask any stupid questions, he knew where this was going. So he sat back, took a deep breath and let Walt continue. There was no turning back at this point. And so Walt continued shaving the top of Charming’s head, to create the perfect horseshoe shape. Meanwhile, Charming didn’t know what was going on up there, other than the sensation he was getting from the clipper work was both thrilling and nerve-wracking.
Walt was done with this part, and went to his station, putting down the clippers which relieved Charming so much. He grabbed a comb and a spray bottle and began to spray and brush back at Charming’s hair. Of course, when he’d brush through certain sections, the comb had some hair and the rest of it didn’t. This made Charming gulp, how much was really left up there now? Once this part was done. Walt grabbed another comb, a flatter one, and picked up the clippers again. "Now time for the other part, the flattop." He traced the comb across Charming’s hair where it was all standing up from the brush work before. With the comb in place and clipper in the other hand, Walt turned them on and began to buzz again. This time it was to the noise of the clippers up against the comb. Still, mounds of hair were flying down in front of Charming. But with the comb in the way, he couldn’t tell how much would be left up top. But now the hair was falling wet clumps or stray pieces landing across Charming’s face making him blink a lot.
It must have been done, because then Walt removed the comb and stepped back with his tools to examine both in the mirror and at his client. Charming was in shock, the hair across the top of his head was perfectly flat, all the way across! And, was that an inch of hair left? No, it looked shorter than that? Maybe even just half an inch?? The darkness of his hair made it seem bigger but it certainly was a very short haircut. "I figured this much, you’ve got some great hair on you. Or, well you did," the barber finally spoke up and said with a laugh. Charming only grinned back as this was slightly an insult but he knew he had to take it. "What I mean is your hair is really thick son, so this haircut works great for you. Your not thinning or balding and so the thickness holds it all up and gives you a plush look too. Very sharp, son."
With that, Walt put his tools on the table and then started to go through his cabinets for a few more things or so it seemed. Grabbing them and laying them out across in front of the mirror so Charming could see. What else could he honestly be doing. Charming wanted to raise his hand up from under the cape and feel his head, and so he did. When he did, his mind went "Holy s**t". This was short, both the little top of hair left as well as his sides that were completely bare. But not quite so in Walt’s opinion.
"Since you are a very special client, I think you deserve a real royal treatment. And this haircut will look even better if I do this. I’m going to razor shave the sides of your head as well as the tops where the horseshoe shape is." Charming had nothing to say so he just let the barber do his thing. Walt had a small dispensary near his station that seemed to foam out hot shaving cream, which he dosed across the sides, back, and top of Charming’s head. It really was nice and warm and felt real good against the shaved sections. Walt took out a straight razor, Charming had seen one of those before, and he began to scrape away at the right side, and then the left, finally finishing with the top. The top created a whole new sensation as Walt carefully glided the razor edge across the top, creating a smooth path with no hair left in its wake. Charming had only had his face shaved before like this, this was something else. Then the barber wiped down the remnants of shaving cream with a dry towel, followed by applying hot towels and patting them all around the head for the pores Charming assumed. Then the barber rubbed some tonic into his hair real good, and then applied it to Charming’s hair with some rough and tough hands, making everything left on top really stick into place now. It had a real stinking smell, but the smell that Charming assumed must be associated with real barbershops like this one.
Finally, Walt dusted Prince Charming down and the prince knew that the haircut must be over. Walt unattached the tissue across Charming’s neck, but left the cape on. The barber brought out a handheld mirror behind Charming’s head, showing his client the back, then one side, then the other, and finally the top horseshoe. "That’s what I call a horseshoe flattop, your highness," he said with that same damn twinkle in his eye. He placed the mirror back down, and then ripped off the cape still around Charming’s body saying, "Alright son, good to go and looking good."
Charming stood up and looked in the mirror, touching the smooth sides of his bare head and the sharp, spiked top of his thick hair. All he could manage was a mouthed "Woah" in the mirror, this was going to be a tough thing to explain to everyone back at the palace.
Remembering his manners, Charming said, "Well, gee, thank you Walt. I never thought I’d look something like this in a million year."
"Well it looks good on you son, should think about keeping it."
"Oh I don’t know about that," the prince replied, "but maybe I could. I’m not too sure though." Prince Charming knew this wouldn’t make Walt feel bad, the old man already seemed to get done what he set out to do. "How much do I owe you, sir?"
"Don’t mention it, its on the house. Who can say they’ve cut a prince’s hair before, huh?" Walt laughed at this and Prince Charming joined in. "Maybe you’ll recommend me to, ah, some of your other friends?" he added with that same twinkling eyes.
"Of course, I will sir, thank you again," Prince Charming shook the barber’s hand firmly and then left the shop.
When he stepped outside to the sunny day, it really felt like a whole new world. He couldn’t believe what had just happened in under an hour, a complete transformation. Now no one would really recognize his if he walked through the streets sporting his haircut. But maybe once he got back to the palace, he should throw on that jacket and hat, just so security might slightly still recognize him after parking the sports car. And maybe he’d sneak through a back exit too when no one was looking. Prince Charming was totally unrecognizable now in his horseshoe flattop haircut. The royal staff would think he’s a dumb imposter. Because they certainly would not take it lightly that someone like that is roaming around the castle freely saying that they were the true prince. But I guess they’d all have to get used to it for a little while…till it grows back…
(let me know if you all found this storyline/approach interesting. Trying something different. It came to my head one day. I can continue with more stories like this and if there's any other characters you'd like to see in Walt's chair let me know thanks a lot guys)