Saturday Home Haircut Time, A True Story by Jack
It was a beautiful Saturday morning in 1974. Spring had finally gotten here in upstate NY farm country, and I was looking forward to a nice day riding my bike around the neighborhood and visiting friends. I got out of bed, changed into my jeans and a flannel shirt, and ran downstairs for a quick breakfast before I went riding. That`s when I saw it. So much for a nice Saturday morning.
Sitting there on the kitchen counter was the haircut bag. An old grapefriut bag with a pair of Wahl clippers and an ancient pair of barber shears was sitting on top of the black and grey striped cloth our grandmother used on us for a cape. I hoped secretly it was just out so she could cut Gramp`s hair, but I knew it wasn`t there just for that. It had been four weeks since my last shearing, and that was about as long as it ever was between haircuts in our house for anyone.
Now mind you, I wasn`t a `long haired hippie` like all my friends were by 1974. My sandy brown hair might have reached halfway to my nose if I dared to comb it forward. My sideburn hair was just long enough to hide the earpieces of my glasses, and I could part my hair on the left easily. I would comb it wet, and flip the front over the top when I was done. It would dry like that as I walked to the bus in the morning and I wouldn`t have to comb it all day. It was just getting to the length where I felt it looked good. My friends who all went to barber shops came back from fresh haircuts looking about like I did early that Saturday morning in May.
`Well, John, once you dry those dishes lets get that mop cut off, it looks like a rug! `said Gram. `Aww...gee,Gram, can`t it wait another week`, I pleaded. `Nobody has hair this short at school.. Why do you always have to cut it just when it starts to look good? Maybe you could just trim the edges this time...I promise I`ll comb it and keep it neat ! `I said for probably the hundredth time this year. `No, we`re going to visit Uncle Jack tomorrow after church, and you can`t go looking like that. We`re not going to have any hippies in this house!`
Well, my fate was sealed. I could only wish for some interruption or a visitor or a power outage, but it wasn`t to be. `Okay, enough dilly dallying, get on that stool and lets get started! I don`t have all day!` said the haircut authority of the house. `It is time to get that hair looking decent again!` I hung my head and complied, as there just wasn`t any way around it. I was going to get scalped today. Gram tucked my collar inside my shirt, and then used a safety pin to tightly secure the striped cloth around my neck. The radio played some old Frank Sinatra song..I thought:`When will I get to do it my way??` as Gram picked up the old pair of barber scissors and the fine toothed barber comb.
As always, the right side was first to fall.. Placing the comb at the base of my sideburn, she slid it ever upwards while snipping repeatedly at a fast clip with the shears. I saw hair clippings start to travel down the cape. They looked to be about a quarter inch long, so I thought it wasn`t going to be too bad this time. Next she folded my ear down with her finger, and the comb and scissors repeated the same path. They traveled right to the edge of the top hair, and more and more dirty blonde trimmings fell on my right side. Next, the left side was treated to the same, and then...`Lean your head over so I can do the back` she ordered.
Gram continued to chop away at the back hair for quite a while. She would keep going over and over the same spot until all the hair was cut to the same length. Snip, snip, then comb. Back to snip, snip, if it wasn`t right. Clippers were only used in our house to trim the edges, but a clipper with a number one guard would have been about as effective as the shears in Gram`s hands. It would be a whole lot faster too. By now I was starting to sweat under the cape. My neck was getting real itchy as well. Then I heard the scissors `snip snip` change to a frightening `scruuunch`. That was the sound of my `long hair` on top being cut.
`Aw gee, do you have to cut the top so short ?`. I said..`We can`t have it looking like a wig,can we?` said Gram. `I have to blend it in with the sides or you will still look like you are wearing a toupee!` Scruuunch! I could tell the hair on top in the back was being sheared right down to at most a half an inch. The hair falling over my face and in my lap looked about an inch long, but I spotted a few longer strands mixed in. I was worried. `Please..take it easy back there!`I pleaded. `They are going to make fun of me at school again - I`m going to have the shortest hair in the entire ninth grade! Why can`t you leave it longer?`..The answer wasn`t what I wanted to hear.
`One more word out of you, and I`m going to cut it ALL off! I`ve heard enough from you, and you ARE going to have a decent haircut, like it or not!` Gram announced. `Scruuunch` went the scissors, emphasizing her point. `Hold your head up now, I`m done with the back - Time for the top!` She combed my hair and parted it, and then she started to lift up the top hair with her comb. The scissors attacked pretty close to my head , and I started to see the clippings fall on my shoulders again. `Hold still!` she said when I pulled away from the scissors which were right over the top of my head by then.. She combed the hair again, and I noticed there wasn`t a whole lot of drag from the comb. Still, the butchery continued. Now that most of my hard earned hair was sitting on my lap, she could slide the comb through the top and cut what stuck above the comb almost as quickly as she had done the sides. Snip, Snip, snip. I heard, and only quarter inch clippings drifted lazily down to my lap. Even though I had what would be considered a decent regular haircut to start with, the cape was covered completely with my sandy hair trimmings. Most were but a quarter inch long, but in between my knees was a big handfull of hair. I sadly wondered if she had decided to make me bald this time.
Finally the scissors and comb were put down. I looked at the clock, and it was almost an hour since the ordeal started. Gram plugged in the ancient set of brown and black clippers, and turned them on. `Clack! `, then `humm` went the old Wahls. First my sideburns were trimmed straight, about a half inch below the top of my ears. Then I felt the corner of the clipper go around my ear, and finally they ran across my neck, making a straight line at the bottom of the back hair. Trimming the hairline between my neck and my ears, Gram went over and over the same spot a few times. `I`ll have to get these looked at.. They aren`t cutting all the hair off on your neck here..` She said. I guess the blades really could use a sharpening, but I certainly wasn`t going to suggest it.
One last time, Gram combed my hair with the fine teeth of the barber comb. I could feel every tooth of the comb as it passed across my head. I noticed she wasn`t parting the hair this time but I wasn`t going to say anything, fearful she`d pick up the scissors again. Gram unpinned the cape and handed it to me as I got off the stool. It felt like I had ben there all morning. By now my brother had gone to work at a neighbor`s farm, so I knew he had escaped for the time being. `Here, she said..The birds will make a nice nest out of this mess. Shake it out by the pear tree so they can use it to feather their nests with.` I grabbed the cape and went out the back door, releived that it was all over. Once I shook all my hair out into the breeze, my free hand went to my head. `Oh no!` I moaned. I was almost in shock.
Normally I could comb my hair with my fingers, but now it felt all bristly and was so short I couldn`t get it between them anymore. What had she done?? As I got back to the door, I caught my reflection in the window glass. My hair, normally a dirty brownish color, was so short it looked blonde. There was NO more long hair to speak of, just a little bit up front maybe an inch long, combed to the side. The rest of my top hair stood almost straight up like a freshly mowed lawn. There was no part, because it was too short to part. I could clearly see my scalp through the one eighth inch long hair on the sides, and my skin was white where it had been hidden from the sun by the hair that was no more. Wow, I was almost bald. My glasses even fit loose.I was sure I`d have to tighten up my baseball hat a couple of holes as well. I ran up to my bedroom and tried to brush what was left, hoping it would lay down and part, but no luck. I was doomed to look like I had lost a fight with a weedeater, at least for the next month. It sure was going to be easy to dry after a bath, I thought.One swipe with a towel and it will be dry!
`The lawn needs mowing, better get cracking!` a voice shouted up the stairs. I thought, well, as long as I looked like I got run over by a lawnmower, might as well scalp the lawn too. No bike riding for me today, and I knew Monday morning at school was going to be hell