Hugh: Give Me A Baldy by Manny
The first thing that struck me when I stepped into the shop was how busy it
was – all three chairs occupied and virtually every seat in the waiting area
taken. The second thing I noticed was that one of the fellows in the waiting
area definitely had not had his last haircut in a barbershop. He sported a
heavy mane of thick, glossy, golden-brown locks that were worn in an early
Hugh Grant-type, floppy style – carefully coiffed and liberally falling past
his eyes, ears and the bottom of his color. In the harsh neon of the
barbershop, the locks absolutely shimmered as he shifted in the uncomfortable
Coincidentally, one of the only available places to wait was right next to
him, so I walked over and sat by “Hugh”. At first, I thought he must just be
waiting while a friend got a haircut – he couldn’t possibly be in line to let
one of the no-nonsense barbers near his pampered tresses. But, as I studied
him covertly, via a mirror, he definitely seemed on the nervous side. The
shifting was continual and his hands sought something to play with, as if
trying to keep themselves busy. Several times, Hugh reached up to push the
heavy locks back from his face and then would run his fingers all the way
back through the plush mane towards the nape. Definitely looked like a
nervous habit to me.
Meanwhile, I thought about what I intended for my own haircut, particularly
the instruction I would give to the barber. My grown-out businessman’s cut
looked shaggy with three to four inches on top. “Cut it short – just long
enough on top to lay flat and tapered tight on the sides and back.” If I
went through with that instruction, it would leave me with the shortest
haircut ever. Of course, I had considered this exact wording many times
before, but when I finally was in the chair, the final result was always the
same: “Uh, just a trim today.”
Depending on which of the three barbers I ended up with, those instructions
resulted in either an actual trim (the two away furthest from the window) or
one very short haircut with plenty of clipper action and bangs chopped off
short. The barber in the pole position was a true menace to anything that
approached longish hair. Whenever it was my lot to have him take charge of
my haircut and he issued his “Next!” order, my legs would turn to jelly as I
stood in response and walked haltingly towards his chair. When barber #1
summonsed me, I knew I would leave the shop thoroughly shorn.
As I was thinking about this time really asking for the “tight taper” (really,
yes, I will do it this time). I heard the menacing “Next!” coming from the
window area. I looked up quickly and saw the barber staring at me! How
could it be me?! There were many others in front of me, surely! As I
resigned myself to submit once again to the heavy-handed shearer (agh! – how
would he interpret the “tight taper” request!), Hugh stood and calmly crossed
in front of me to the first chair.
Oh my, I thought. Poor guy. His pretty boy locks don’t stand a chance. The
barber seemed pleased that he was going to give pretty boy a haircut and even
managed a smile and some chit chat while he was caping up the longhair.
Then, as he brushed the glossy tresses, the pro-forma question was posed, “So
how do you want your hair cut?”
The fellow in the chair appeared calm, but was a bit wide-eyed. When he
spoke, I could not believe my ears. “Give me a baldy,” Hugh stated flatly.
As expected with barber #1, there was no “are you sure?” type confirmation
solicited by the smocked man who wielded the clippers. A flash of pleasure
crossed the barber’s face as he swirled the chair away from the mirror. A
flash of terror crossed the client’s face as the barber pushed his head down
and the clippers were snapped on. The dangling forelock – a good six to
seven inches of hair – instantly obliterated Hugh’s face as he was forced to
bow his head in preparation for his “baldy” haircut. All that gleaming hair
would soon be piled up on the cape and floor, I thought to myself!
The barber had a very satisfied look on his face as he drove the big Oster
clippers up the back of Hugh’s head. Shortly thereafter, mounds of beautiful
hair cascaded to the floor behind the caped figure and fell in piles as the
barber’s feet. Quickly the clippers moved up and up and up causing more and
more hair to fall. Then, in a triumph of barbering, the clippers crested the
crown and plowed straight forward, eventually pushing a huge collection of
shorn, golden-brown hair past Hugh’s face and onto the cape. The balance of
hair quickly shifted from head to cape as the barber manipulated the Oster
clippers back and forth. Finally, Hugh was left with a butch cut – quarter
inch all over. He seemed shell shocked as he stared at the piles of hair on
By then, barber #1 was preparing to shift into overdrive. After fiddling with
the Osters, he came back to Hugh’s head in a forehead to crown motion. The
brown pelt gave way to white scalp. He was being taken down to the wood with
a #0000! A true baldy. All eyes in the barbershop, mine included, were
locked onto poor Hugh’s transformation.
Finally the clipping stopped and the barber swirled the chair back to the
mirror. Hugh was treated to his first view of his new baldy haircut! Shock
slowly gave way to an embarrassed smile. “So, what’s the special occasion?”
the barber asked as he dusted Hugh’s neck and ears.
“Nothing in particular,” the bald client replied. “Just always was curious to
see what that would feel like.”
“And what does this feel like?” asked the barber as he playfully took the
duster to the top of Hugh’s head and chased away any small bits of hair that
may have clung hopelessly to their former estate as if they were still a part
of Hugh’s tantalizing mane.
When the cape was pulled off and all of the cut hair ended on the floor, the
site was something amazing to behold. Hugh stood and felt his baldy head and
smiled a bit shyly. As he stepped outside the shop, three fellows –
apparently his friends – rushed up to him and began pointing, laughing and
acting like his metamorphosis to baldy was the freakiest thing they’d ever
seen. Of course, there were lots of hands feeling the newly scalped pate.
Hugh returned the playfulness by grabbing one of the fellows who sported a
ponytail and tried dragging him towards the barbershop.
I was enjoying the whole post-haircut scene on the sidewalk, when suddenly I
heard the dreadfully familiar sound of “Next!” coming from near the window.
I cast my eyes towards the first chair and saw barber #1 staring straight at
What?! Oh my! It was gong to be him! And Hugh’s mow down had probably sent
his adrenalin soaring. I stood and gave myself a pep talk as I walked over.
I was in a daze as the cape was cast and fastened. Then the question was
“….cut short for summer….” I mumbled. “However you think best,” I added in an
unplanned moment of dangerous living. Perhaps I’d been inspired by Hugh’s
example of “just curious about what that would feel like.”
There was no reply from the barber as my chair jolted and I felt myself
swirling to the left – one last view of Hugh and the boys still obsessed with
the new baldy as they walked away from the shop.
Click. Hmmmmm. My head was pushed forward. “A baldy it will be,” pronounced
the barber as the clippers attacked my nape and began decimating my locks. I
swooned at the thought of it….