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Very Short Haircut by Bill Ness
It was in 1980,when I had just turned 15 and at the suggestion of 2 of my school buddies I joined the county corps of the army cadets.They had both been in the cadets for about a year and had been encouraging me to join for about as long. At the time, my hair was below my collar & fairly thick, albeit, neatly styled.I was beginning to get fed-up washing & blow-drying my hair every couple of days, and although having shorter hair was appealing to me,I didn't really want my hair as short as my two cadet buddies. They both had short back and sides - overall length was about a #4 clipper grade.
After a bit of more encouragement from my friends, I finally gave in and decided to go along to the next cadet meeting.The cadet meetings were on a Monday & Thursday evening and at weekends. I had consulted with my parents about my decision to join the army cadets and whilst my dad was all for me joining, my mother wasn't too sure. My dad said that if I do join, to expect my "hair-style" choice to be decided by others & not me. I thought that he was joking.I never, ever thought that I would get my head shaved and then grow to like it so much that I would have it as my "haircut" of choice!
That Thursday I met up with my two buddies and went along with them to the meeting. They looked very smart in their uniforms, whilst I just had jeans and a t-shirt on. When we got there, I noticed that all the guys had short hair - a lot shorter than I expected, mostly crew-cuts.I was a bit nervous but excited at the same time. The meeting was quickly brought to order by the drill sergeant who was in his early thirties.I was introduced to him & the rest of the senior cadets and quickly became less nervous.One of my buddies told the sergeant that I had just come along to see how things went and that I was contemplating joining. I enjoyed all the activities, especially the field-craft exercise. At the end of the evening the staff sergeant asked if I was coming back the following Monday. I said that I was and I was issued with a parental consent form and told to get it signed by my parents to bring back the following Monday. I was also told that I would have to abide by military regulations and this meant that my "haircut" choice would be given to me on the Monday. That weekend just flew in and before I knew it, it was Monday evening and time to meet up with my two buddies again and go with them to the cadet hall. As I got to the door of the cadet hall I kind of hesitated about going in, but my buddies reassured me that I would be fine & just to relax.
The sergeant was delighted to see me return and asked for the forms that he had issued to me. I gave them to him which he checked over and then gave me another form to read & sign. I read the form (military orders) and signed my name. The sergeant then asked me to take the oath of allegiance which I did. My buddies both cheered. The sergeant then took me into the main hall and asked me to sit down on a chair. A corporal then brought over a barber cape and a towel, looked at me, ran his hand through my hair and said; "Haircut time, boy!" I started to tremble a little - i think both from fear & excitement at the same time. Next thing, the corporal wrapped the cape around me and then placed the towel over my shoulder neatly tucking it in to the cape. A table was set down beside me with scissors, comb, two different types of clipper (one was a trimmer), a bowl, shaving brush and straight razor. The sergeant asked the troop to gather round to watch my induction into the military. Now, I was really nervous..... The corporal picked up the larger set of clippers and removed the guard.As the corporal switched them on, I noticed that he moved the blade to the longer setting, albeit, there was still no guard on the clipper. The corporal came round and stood in front of me and tauntingly said that I now belonged to the army and they could do with me whatever they wanted.... I gulped and closed my eyes as he lifted the clipper to my forehead....next I felt the clipper chewing through my hair from the front to the crown of my head and I felt a shower of hair fall all over the cape. A few tears came to my eyes as I realised I was losing my freedom to decide my "hair-style" for at least the next couple of years...The corporal came around to the left side and removed my side-burns and clipped the remaining hair, moving quickly to the back he ran the clippers up the back of my head and again I felt a shower of hair falling down on to the cape.....he then reduced the right side to stubble, too. I could feel air currents on my scalp for the first time....The corporal said to me - "Now, Soldier. Feel that nice haircut." He told me to feel my hair and all I felt was prickly stubble!! My hair had never been this short and I was wondering what my neighbours and class-mates would think & say. The corporal then said that he wasn't finished as he ran his hand across my head..... I was thinking that there wasn't a whole lot more of hair that could be cut. How wrong I was!
The next thing, the corporal switched on the clippers again & moved the blades to the lowest setting. He then ran the clippers over my whole head & I saw a whole lot more hair falling over the cape. I couldn't believe how much hair I had just "surrendered" to the army. The corporal turned off the clipper and I began to stand up to brush off the hair from the cape when I was promptly ordered to sit back down.As soon as I got sat down, the corporal switched on the smaller clipper and ran them from my forehead to my crown - yet more hair began to fall, but it felt different this time as I could feel the steel blades of the clipper on my scalp....an amazing sensation for me! The corporal continued with the small clipper all over my head. For all intents and purposes I was now bald.....Me, a baldie ?! I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever have a shaved head!
At this point, I definitely thought the haircut was over, however, the corporal asked me not to move. Warm water was brought over & was poured into the bowl.... Shaving cream was placed into another bowl and then warm water was added to it and then the corporal started working it into a thick lather with the brush and then began to lather the sides and back of my head..... I could not believe what was happening to me..... I tried in vain to hold back the tears, but they started to flow. The corporal winked at me and said that now I was about to become a very smart, bald soldier. I could feel the warm lather soaking into the remaining miniscule stubble on the sides and back of my head. The corporal then gave the straight razor a quick strop and then slowly but efficiently removed all trace of hair from the side of my head, working gently round the ears and then round the back and to the other side. I could actually hear the stubble being scraped away as the corporal deftly worked with the razor. I thought that definitely this time its got to be finished, but the corporal mixed some more lather and re-applied it to the back & sides of head. All hair was removed from temple to collar-line. As i looked in the mirror all I could see was a stubble patch on the top of my head. I was told by the corporal that I now had a "recon" haircut....But he wasn't finished, yet. He next took out the small clippers and ran them across the top of my head again and still more, very fine stubble fell!
The bowl was cleaned out and brought back. More warm water was poured in and the corporal began to make more lather. He then lathered the sides and back again...Next, I will never forget the feelings of fear & excitement, he massaged warm lather into the stubble on the top of my head.... I let out a squeal of: "Oh, my God!" I never felt anything like it..... all sorts of emotions & thoughts were running through my head....."He's making me a skinhead.... Only skinheads have longer hair!!" The corporal re-stropped the razor and stood behind me. He brought the razor to my forehead and scraped the remaining stubble off my head. He then re-applied the lather and shaved my head again in the opposite direction. He then shaved the sides and back one more time. Next, he applied some after-shave......Oh boy, how that stung!! (but smelled great) He ran his hand across my head one more time checking for any "stray" hairs. My scalp was smooth as a baby's round & pink!! My friends couldn't resist rubbing my scalp. The corporal then poured a little baby oil onto my scalp and massaged it in & then buffed my scalp with a fine, soft cloth until it began to shine. My head felt silky smooth & had a great shine.
The corporal looked at me and said that I was no longer a "hippy" (as he put it), but a fine young man and soldier. I was issued with my army uniform and told to put it on and go home in uniform. I walked in to my house...... My mum let out a yell and my dad said; "Hi, soldier!" I was told by my corporal that I would be required to have my head shaved once a week for the next 4 weeks and then I would be allowed to let it grow out a little, but was to keep it short. After this experience, I never really let my hair grow too long. I always kept it fairly short. When I joined the regular army in 1985 I had my head shaved again and have kept it either short or shaved smooth ever since.