The Pineapple by A Recruit
I always had a fascination with short haircuts, as far back as I can remember. As a kid I used to look through National Geographics for the pictures of kids in other countries with short haircuts, and best of all, with shaved heads. Being kind of naive about such things, I wondered how that kind of cut was done. One time there was a good side view photo of a lad with probably a week's regrowth from a shaved head. So I asked my dad whether he (the kid, that is) had had his head shaved, or what. He explained the situation and told me that when he was a boy, some of the kids used to get that kind of cut--"pineapple cuts" they called them. I guess my interest showed, because, out of the blue, he asked me if I would like to have a haircut like that. I stammered a bit, since the thought of getting my own hair cut off had never occurred to me. Finally I said something like "Sort of; I wonder what it would be like. But Mother wouldn't want me to, would she?" I got the usual parental non-committal, "We'll see. Not til summer, anyhow."
This was in the middle of the winter, and for an 8 year old, summer was forever away. However it gave a whole new dimension to my fantasies. My hair was a normal kid's cut for the time: 2-3 inches on the top, part thru my right hand cowlick, forelock that would touch my nose if I pulled it down, fair amount on the back and sides, but tapered down at the edges. I wondered how the barber would cut a pineapple.
Some time in the spring, I had wondered enough so I asked my dad. (I suspect that I must have partly had the motive of reminding him of the subject.) He explained the obvious, that the barber would just use the clippers he used on me around the edges, but use them all over my head. (This was a long time ago, and our barber hadn't switched to the newfangled electric clippers. He used the hand kind, that went scrunch-scrunch and pulled your hair a bit.) His use of the personal pronoun did not escape me--my head! Nothing more except mental exercises until towards the end of school. With about a week to go, my mother suggested that my father take me for a haircut, since I was getting pretty shaggy. He looked at me and at her, and said "Why don't we wait til after school is out."
It must have been the Saturday after school was over, since it was morning and Dad wasn't at work, Dad corralled me and we headed to the barber. On the way he asked me if I still wanted that pineapple cut? That brought me to attention! "But what will Mother say?" Dad, said," I told her. She wasn't too happy, but she says if that's what you really want, it's ok with her". I spent the rest of the trip in a mixture of excitement and panic. As we got out of the car, he asked me what I had decided. I couldn't talk, but I nodded. We had to wait for a couple of other customers, and I got more and more nervous. Another 5 minutes and I probably would have chickened out, but suddenly it was my turn.
As I climbed up into the big chair I heard my dad say the fatal words. I was expecting the barber to pick up his clippers, but instead, after fastening the cape around my neck he had his scissors and comb. "A baldy, huh?" he said. I nodded. He moved around to the back and started to lift the hair and cut it, sort of like he did with a regular cut, only it was not the rapid clip-clip-clip he usually did. Instead, there were a couple of bigger, louder snips with each lift of the comb. And he worked his way rapidly up the back of my head. After a couple of passes up the back he came around to the side and I realized what he was doing-the shears weren't above the comb, but under it, and he was hacking off big hunks of my blond hair with each snip. He worked his way right up to the part, and then moved around to the other side. When he was done there, he turned my head so I faced towards him. He pushed my head down and started the comb-snip-snip right up the middle. I was fascinated to see the hair that landed in my lap-it was so long! Never had that much hair come off in a haircut. In a minute he was done, and went over to the counter. I snuck my hand out from under the apron and felt of my head. There was hair here and there, and stubbly bits, but definitely much, much less than before.
And here he came with the clippers. And just as in my favorite fantasy, he started right up the middle of my head. The old hand clippers made sort of a "munch-munch" sound--nothing like the buzz or hum of the modern electric ones. And of course they went much slower. Clippers in one hand, the other firmly on the back of my head, pushing my chin down almost to my chest. All I could see was the cloth in my lap with the hunks of my hair lying there. From time to time a small tuft would drop down to join them--nothing like the long hunks that the shears had dropped. He made a bunch of passes over the top of my head and then went to work on the back. At that point I could get a peek in the mirror and see--a kid way over there in the chair with practically no hair. Frustrating, just like those National Geographic pictures--why didn't they take a closeup!
The whole cut didn't take more than 10 minutes, 'til he was dusting off my head with his brush. I remember that it felt funny. Then I was out of the chair and over to the mirror. Awesome! I really looked bald, except for a fine dusting of fuzz. And the bristly, sandpaper feel--that was a surprise-- I don't know what I was expecting it to feel like. I guess I just had never put the way it felt into my fantasy. My dad paid for my clipping and we headed back to the car. I looked for my reflection in every store window and car window that we passed. With the sun shining on me, I looked totally bald. As good as any of those National Geographic photos! Better, in fact, because I could reach up and rub it.
It seemed like I spent the next couple of days looking in the mirror and rubbing my head, but I must have done something else, since I got the start of a pretty good sunburn until Mom had me put on a cap. I got a real kick out of showing off my clipped head to a couple of my friends. The real disappointment was the realization that my hair was growing back! Again, I don't know what I expected, I guess I had never thought about it. After a week my head was covered with my blond fuzz, and I only looked shaved under a real bright light. After a couple of weeks, it was longer fuzz, but certainly not a 'pineapple' or a National Geographic special. I tried to persuade my folks to let me get a repeat clipping, but to no avail. We were going to visit Grandma, or something. The only consolation was the promise of another pineapple the next summer