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The Barber and the Father and Son by Gator


The Barber and the Father and Son
By Gator
It was getting close to Thanksgiving break. It was Friday, the week before turkey day. The week of Thanksgiving always was slow for me since the university was closed for the week. The local schools also were closed so I often got to spend time getting the shop cleaned up and ready for the onslaught of the Christmas holidays. I was busy up until I close on December 23rd.
I was sitting in the chair when a father and a son walked in. I recognized the son as he often came to the shop every month or so. He’d get a regular haircut " a slight taper off the ears and just a little off the top - and then wait until he was shaggy again. He never asked for a face shave even though he’d let his beard grow. He was a good-looking kid. Dark sandy brown hair, not a real part, but combed forward and when it got shaggy, he’d brush the hair out of his eyes. He never used any product on his hair. Just all natural. He was a friendly college kid and always polite. I guess you’re polite when your barber is wielding a set of clippers and a straight razor. The kid’s hair was not overly long ever and there was a slight wave to his hair. His father, though, was in dire need of a haircut. I’m amazed that kids have shorter hair than their dads. Quite the change from when I was growing up.

"Welcome to Pete’s gentlemen. Who’s the first victim in my chair?" The college student spoke up. "I am, Pete." "Come on and have a seat." He did. "If I remember correctly, you’re Kevin, right?" "Yes, sir." "You want your usual regular tapered cut?" His father spoke up and said, "He’s going shorter than I thought he would." Kevin looked a little sheepish at me. "I want to go shorter, Pete. I was thinking about a number 2 on top and a number 1 on the sides. A zero around my ears." "Quite a change, Kevin. What’s the occasion?" "Well, break is coming up. I wanted to go shorter." His father spoke up from the chair. "I think it’s too short, Kevin. Why not just get a trim?" Kevin grimaced. "Because dad, I like a short cut. I know you and mom don’t like my short cuts, but I do." I swung the cape around Kevin. His dad just shrugged his shoulders. "It’s your hair, I guess," he replied. Dad picked up the newspaper from the table.
I turned and grabbed my trusty Oster clippers. I switched the blade to a #2 and turned them on. I kept the chair facing Kevin’s dad in the hopes that dad would also choose to get in my chair. I placed the clippers on top in the middle of Kevin’s head. I slowly took them to his crown. A mass of wavy dark brown hair was coming off. When I got to his crown, I made sure that the cut hair fell forward into Kevin’s lap. Since I had a mirror across the shop, I was looking for a shocked expression on Kevin’s face. Instead, I got, "Hey! I love how short the cut is!" He had a big smile on his face. Kevin’s dad had been looking at his cell phone and he looked up. "Oh my! That looks awful short, Kevin!" I piped up. "It’s a number 2 blade so roughly a quarter of an inch on top." I halted the next pass and rubbed my hand across the stubble. Kevin smiled even broader. "That feels great, Pete!"

I went back to Kevin’s forehead and started slowly with a second pass. More wavy dark brown hair came off and, naturally, landed in Kevin’s lap. Kevin’s dad had stopped with his cell and was now looking at the cut his son was receiving. I made a third pass on Kevin’s head; this pass went just as slowly making sure more hair landed in Kevin’ lap. Once I finished this pass, I rubbed my hand over his top. "How does it feel, Kevin?" "Oh wow! I should’ve done this sooner, Pete! Dad, come and feel this!" I smiled. "I don’t bite, Dad. Come on over." Kevin’s dad slowly got out of the chair to stand next to his son. He slowly took his hand and made a pass over the top feeling the stubble. "It feels like velvet almost." Dad made a half attempt at a smile. "It feels good, but I’m still not sure why kids these days want to go so short." "Aww, dad. It’s a different time than when you were a kid! Look at Pete’s cut, Dad! He’s sporting a high and tight flat! You’d look good with a similar cut!" Dad laughed heartedly. "I don’t think so, Kevin. What would people say?" I interrupted. "Actually, sir, after a half day of comments, nothing else. They’ll be shocked at first, but then think nothing about it. You have to be a confident man to sport a high and tight flat." My first dig. I saw Dad wince. He rubbed Kevin’s head again, turned, and then went to sit down. I could tell my comment stung.

Kevin joined in. "Dad, think about getting a shorter cut today. Pete is a great barber. Think about getting a crewcut or even an ivy." By this time, I had changed blades on the clippers to a #1 so I could tackle Kevin’s sides and back. I stepped to his right side and placed the clippers at the bottom of his sideburn. I slowly moved the clippers up towards the top, slowly peeling off the bushy sideburn and the longer hair. And you guessed it. All of this landed in Kevin’s lap. "Wow! That’s a lot of hair coming off, isn’t it, Pete?" "It sure is, but you’re looking quite handsome with this short cut." Another huge smile. "If you want to keep it this short, Kevin, I suggest you sit in my chair every week for a good maintenance cut. Those waves hide your eyes." "What about once a month, Pete?" "Three weeks max, Kevin. Any longer than that and I will have to charge you for the shaggy dog cut!" We both laughed. I noticed that Kevin’s dad was paying very close attention to cut I was giving. When I was standing behind Kevin, I looked at his dad. "So, sir, thinking you need a cut to match your sons?" He hesitated. "My name is Doug, and I don’t want a cut as short as my son." "Perhaps an ivy or even a Princeton?" "What are those cuts? I am not familiar with them. I usually just ask for a regular trim." Kevin smirked and added, "At a high-priced saloon, Pete. Dad is not a barber shop type guy." Doug blushed a deep red.

I smiled and told Doug that a Princeton was short on the sides, about a #1 in length and the top was cut short, but long enough to lay down and to comb over. The front was left a little longer that the crown area; the top was graduated to a shorter length. "Imagine the cuts on Steve McQueen when he was younger. Nice clean taper around the ears and the neck. Very professional cut, Doug." "And the ivy?" "It’s a similar cut, but the top is shorter. Sides are still clipped tight; normally I use a half blade, a 0.5 blade, on the sides and the top is long enough to lay down but not always parted. The top is one length. I always taper around the ears and the neck, too." "What would you call Kevin’s cut?" "It’s a type of crew cut. Very common with the college kids." "Oh," was his reply.

By this time, I had finished Kevin’s sides and back and had blended the two lengths. "Doug, step over to the chair." He did so. "Let me show you some options here." I took my fingers and used Kevin as a model. "One option for this cut is to give your son a high and tight. The sides would be skinned tight." I rubbed my fingers up his sides. "His sides would be just short stubble. Like a one-day old face shave. I could razor shave his sides and back so they are smooth. My military guys get that cut. I’d leave the top alone or take it down some." Kevin looked at me. "Uh, you aren’t thinking of doing that on me, are you Pete?" I laughed. "Not this time, but soon it may happen." I smiled. Kevin shock his head. "Also, another option is to go to an induction cut which is a 5-aught blade all over. Basically, a clipper shaved cut." "That’s what my roommate has dad. He gets his hair cut here with Pete." "A very popular cut with the JROTC group. So, you want that cut, Kevin?" "In the summer perhaps, Pete." I looked at Doug and took his hand to my sides. "This is what razor shave feels like, Doug. I just did mine this morning." I rubbed his hand against my sides. Kevin asked, "Mind if I feel, too?" I leaned down so he could feel. "Wow, that is smooth," said Kevin. "After Thanksgiving break, Kevin, you will get this," I said.

Doug looked at me. "You give longer cuts, too?" "Of course, I do. Let me finished Kevin up and then it’s your turn in my chair." I grabbed a hot towel and wrapped Kevin’s head up. I turned and got the hot lather, removed the towel, and spread the lather around his ears and his nape. I released Kevin from the cape, brushed off my chair and invited Doug to have a seat. He hesitated. "Sit down, Dad," interjected Kevin. "It is time for you to enter the new century." Doug sat. I wrapped him in the cape and put the tissue around his neck. I turned the chair to face the mirror on the back bar.

"What type of cut are you thinking I need, Pete?" asked Doug. Kevin walked up and said, "I vote for a high and tight, Dad. A #2 on top like mine. Sides and back with a 5-aught." Doug’s face turned crimson red. I laughed out loud. "Not this time, Doug, but maybe later on. Let’s go a medium taper business man’s cut." Doug nodded his head. Kevin stayed at the chair. "I still say you need to go shorter, Dad." "Let the barber decide, son. He’s the professional." I smiled at both of them.

I grabbed the clippers, put on the #2 blade on my Osters. I stood behind Doug and placed the clippers in the middle of his nape. I slowly slipped the clippers up his back about midway up the back. Kevin stood against the bar back watching. I made a second and third pass. I noticed that Doug’s eyes were closed. "Damn, that feels short," he said. Kevin moved forward and took his fingers and ran them up the back. "Ahh. Still a way to go, Dad," he said. I moved to Doug’s left side to continue taking the hair off his ears and giving him a clean arch around his ear. I made sure this hair was landing in his lap. Doug opened his eyes. "Oh wow! That’s a lot of hair," he exclaimed. I continued taking off the longer hair. I moved the chair around so I could get to his right side and to give Doug one last glimpse of his long hair before it landed in his lap. I made the same pass around his right ear. His ears definitely had not seen the light of day for some time. I placed the clippers at the bottom of Doug’s sideburn. I slowly peeled that off and took the clippers up to his temple area. I saw Doug take a glimpse in the mirror. I purposely moved the chair so he could see his unfinished cut. He opened his eyes wide. "Wow!" Kevin took to opportunity to rub his finders up the side of his dad’s head. I had to change the blade to do the longer length of Doug’s cut. I thought I heard a slight moan. "I think Dad needs to go shorter, Pete," stated Kevin. "Isn’t that right, dad?" There was a long hesitation. "I’m not sure, Kevin. This is pretty short now. What do you think, Pete?" "Personally, Doug, I like shorter cuts on older men. They look more professional when they sport a cleaner look." "What type of shorter cut?" I thought for a moment. "Hmm. I would suggest a Princeton." "How short is that?" asked Doug. I took the comb and lifted his bangs. "I’d take off this much," indicating that I would leave about an inch on top. Roughly four inches of his top would land in his lap. "And the sides?" "Skinned like Kevin’s. I’d give you a part on the left. One difference for your cut would be I would razor shave the sides about two fingers high to give you a very tight taper." I took my fingers and rubbed his sides to show him how high I would use the razor. "Do it, Dad. It’d look so good on you."

Doug hesitated and then said, "I think this is short enough this time." I nodded. In reality, Doug had lost at least half of his business cut. It was a huge change for him. I took the lather and shaved around his ears and his nape. I then dusted his neck, ears, and his forehead; I then released him from the cape. He got up and looked at his reflection in the mirror. "I like it even though it is a big change for me." Doug paid for his cut and for Kevin’s. They left. I cleaned up the shop.

It was the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It was mid-morning and I was sitting in my chair reading the local paper. I heard the bell above the door tinkle. I put down the paper and saw Doug entering the shop. "Hey, sir! Good to see you again!" I stood and shook his hand. "I dropped Kevin off at his dorm a few minutes ago. He has classes today. I wanted to come back to tell you ‘thanks’ for the cut." "My pleasure, Doug." He looked a little sheepish. "I was thinking, Pete, of perhaps going shorter." "Oh? How much shorter? This cut looks good on you." "Thanks. I received several compliments. So, what do you think about me going shorter?" "You thinking of a Princeton or shorter?" I asked. "I was thinking letting you decide." I laughed heartedly. "You know that I love high and tights and flattops. I’m not so sure that you want that short, Doug." He shook his head. "Not really." "Get in the chair, Doug, and we will see what happens." He climbed in my chair. I quickly caped him up and put the neck strip on. I cinched the cape a little tight. I turned the chair to face the mirror.
I combed his hair. I looked at his reflection. "I know what to do," I said as I turned the chair away from the mirror. "Do I get to watch?" Doug asked. "Nope. This is a barber shop. The barber is in charge. You gotta trust me."

Doug did not respond. I turned to the back bar, changed the blade on the Oster to a #1 blade. I turned on the clippers, and placed them at his right sideburn. I took the clippers up to his temple. Doug still did not say anything as this first strip of stubble was showing some skin. I quickly removed the hair on his sides, went behind him, and shoved his chin into his chest. I took the clippers tightly up his back removing the #2 taper that had been left behind from his last cut. I didn’t bother to taper the sides or the back. His taper would be very high. I purposely made sure the majority of the hair was landing in Doug’s lap.

After the sides had been cut, I turned the chair to face the mirror. I watched Doug’s expression. A slight smile broke across his mouth. I grabbed my comb to tackle the top. I lifted his bangs and quickly lopped off about 4 inches of hair. I left him with about an inch of hair just long enough to lay down. "This is the cut you mentioned to me the other day, isn’t it, Pete?" "It is." I kept cutting the top down and would comb it occasionally to get rid of the cut hair. I blended this sides and the top. I combed the bangs down on his forehead and cut them at a slight angle. "Wow. This is short, Pete." "It is but it’s a classic look, Doug." I spread the hot lather around his ears and cleaned up his arches and his neck. I dusted him off again. "Well, what do you think, Doug?" He looked at his reflection. He smiled even more broadly than before. "I really like it. I think I lost a few years off my looks here." "Yep, at least 5 or more, Doug." I laughed as I turned the chair away from the mirror and removed the cape.

Doug and I walked to the register. "You coming to pick up Kevin for Christmas vacation?" "Yep in a couple of weeks. Why?" "Stop by and get your Christmas cuts." Doug smiled. "I am assuming those will be shorter?" I smiled and replied, "Of course they will be. Your son has been itching for a military high and tight." Doug laughed. "How’d you know?" "A barber knows, Doug. Perhaps you want one, too?"




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