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11 by Jack

I never knew my dad. Him and my mom had split up when i was 1. It never really bothered me, I didn`t miss what I never had.

That was until 2 days before my 11th birthday. I came home from school and could smell cigarettes in the house, my mom was not a smoker. There sitting in the kitchen was a strange man, blonde just like me and chatting away to my mom. He immediately stood up when he saw me and saiod `Hey Jack`. It didn`t take a genius to work out this was Ray my dad. He had moved back to the area and wanted to see his son.

Having a dad was so alien to me that I really was not interested. My mom was very keen on us getting to know each other and was always saying a boy close to his teens needs his dad. I didn`t understand this at the time. So to make sure we got on I was alowed to skip school and have some days out with him. Ray was a tall well built man, he had just left the army and carried him self like a solider. Of course he wanted to make up for lost time and spoil me, of course I let him. It was all going well until the day he made me angry.

The day of my birthday we needed to pick up some groceries and headed into town. Ray decided his crewcut needed cutting and we went into a barbershop. I had never seen the inside before, it was 1977 and haircuts were also alien to me, my mom would trim mine. Ray was immediately seated and spoke in huhed tones to the young barber. The sound of the clippers jolted me out of my daydream and Ray was shorn in what seemed seconds. His dirty blonde hair was almost invisible due to the short clippering he had got. After brushing himself down he shouted out to me `What do you think Jack, better huh?`. I nodded and agreed, I had never seen a man with such a cut in real life. More hushed conversation followed with the barber and then Ray called me over. At this point he explained to the barber that today was my birthday and i was 11, almost a man he said. Ray then went on to say he thought I looked just like him and could look even more like him. `Get in the chair son` he said. No one had ever called me son and meant it, I was in shock. It felt weird but also good to becalled son by my dad. I sat in the chair.

Before I knew it the barber had caped me just like he had Ray. The chair was pumped up much higher and spun away fromthe mirror. Ray smiled and called out from the seats `Good man Jack, the girls are gonna flock to you at your party this afternoon`.

Yet again I was jolted out of my shock by the feel of the clippers on my forehead, only this time they were accompanied by the feeling of cold steel on my scalp. My bangs were on my lap, forever gone. Ray gave me the thumbs up! The barber swept over and over my head, each time more hair falling all around me. Every time I thought no more hair would fall but it did. I could feel my face getting redder and redder and wanted to escape. The dirty blonde hair just kept falling. Eventually the shearing stopped and the barber fiddled with the clippers before cutting close around my neck and ears.

The chair was let down and the cape removed. The barber spun me round to the mirror with almost a grin on his face. I looked in the mirror and saw my cut for the first time, I wanted to explode. It just didn`t look like me. I looked like Ray. The dirty blonde had been replaced with white blonde cropped hair and skin visible underneath. Before I could move Ray was over and rubbing it.`Hey you look like a little recruit there Jack`. I was so annoyed with him.

The barber was paid and we left. I felt everyone was staring at me. I did not want to see my friends later that day. `You look so much better son, won`t be such a shock next time`.

It wasn`t and never has been since.

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