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One Less Hippie by BaldSurfer
It was a really quiet day at the shop, even for a Monday. So Robbie had gone home early and I was working alone. I was finishing up one of my regulars when I heard the door open. I turned and saw a guy walk in. Looked to be in his late 30's, in pretty good shape under his tight expensive looking black t-shirt, a scruffy blondish goatee. But most notable was his hair, light blond, natural sun-bleached streaks of gold, just wavy enough to be interesting - and hanging down a few inches past his shoulders. I'm not a big fan of long hair on dudes but I have to admit, this guys hair was gorgeous and it he looked great with it. What was a guy like that doing in my barber shop?
He sheepishly asked if there was a long wait. I chuckled as I looked around the otherwise empty shop and told him I'd be ready for him in just a few minutes and told him to have a seat. He sat down, but didn't look at the TV or pick up a magazine. He just looked around the shop as if it were an alien environment for him and then stared intensely as I finished up tapering Joey's buzzcut. He seemed even more intrigued as I applies hot lather and used the straight edge to clean up Joey's neck and around his ears. I couldn't wait to find out what this guy was here for. A little trim? A hot face shave? I didn't dare dream he was thinking of cutting it short. I told myself I'd find out soon enough.
I dusted Joey off, removed the cape and told him it was $15. He gave me a $20 and told me to keep the change. I brushed off the chair, swept away the short clippings from Joey's touch-up buzz looked at the gy and said "Ready when you are, sir."
He swallowed hard, looked a little pale and slowly stood up and walked to my chair and sat down.
I smiled at him, extended my hand and said, "How you doing? Don't think I've seen you in here before. My name's Marc. What's yours?"
He shook my hand and told me his name was Andy. And, no he had never been here before. He said he hadn't been in a real barber shop since he was a kid. He chuckled as he added "As if you couldn't tell that."
I wrapped a tissue around his neck, lifting the long hair so I could tuck it around, and then caped him and asked him what were going to do today. Under the cape, his hand went into his pocket and he removed a folded page from a magazine. As he unfolded it, I could see that the folds were worn, as if he'd been carrying it for awhile and opened it refolded it a few times. He handed it to me and said, "Time for a change. I just want to try something new, a different image. Do you think this would look good on me?"
I took the picture from him. It was the current trendy look - a guy with a hard side-part, a pompadour and a high skin fade on the sides and back. I said, "That's a great look. I do a lot of those cuts. But that's a pretty radical change. I think you'd look really great, but are you sure? I'd hate for you to regret your first visit to my shop." I was trying to be a responsible barber and so I hid my excitement at the prospect of chopping off all that hair. I've had guys like that who've left my shop with tears running down their faces and that takes the fun out of it. I like cutting hair, but I'm not cruel.
The guy smiled and told me he was absolutely sure. He'd been thinking about it for a long time. "Everybody thinks I'm nuts," he explained. "They tell me how beautiful my hair is. How long it'll take to grow back. Blah blah blah. But they don't understand how long it takes for it to dry. How hard it is to keep it from getting tangled when I'm playing ball. How freaking hot it gets in the summer. The girl at the salon where I usually get the ends trimmed refused to do it. So did the other stylists that worked with her. Everybody told me to go home and think about it! I'm not buying a gun, I'm getting my hair cut. There shouldn't be a mandated waiting period. So please just cut my freaking hair!"
OK. I told him I'd do whatever he wanted. With that, I ran my comb through his long gold-streaked hair. I silently admired the color, the length, and how easily my comb ran through it. But then, without another word, I opened my scissors and took the first cut, a few inches above his jawline and watched the curtain of hair cascade down onto the cape. Andy showed no emotion, but quietly said "I guess we're committed now."
I kept chopping away the bulk of the hair. I wasn't trying to be neat about it, because I was just clearing the work area a bit and most of the rest of it was coming off soon anyway. As I finished at the other side of his head, he was left with a bob cut that hung just below his ears. With most of the weight gone, the remaining hair was wavier now, and I noted to my self that I'd need a good strong hold pomade to finish styling.
I combed the remaining hair, parting it on the left along the temple ridge, and placed a long hair clip at the top edge of the part. Then I parted it to the other side and clipped it there too. As I plugged in the Oster 76 clippers, I asked if Andy wanted the sides skinned down like that picture or if he wanted me to leave a little more. "Ah, what the hell! The damage is already done. Skin me. Might as well have the full effect."
He was starting to enjoy this, so I snapped in the 00000 blade. I placed the clippers at the base of his sideburn and pushed them slowly up his head. Six more inches of hair fell as I slid the clippers 3/4 of the way up his head, leaving bald pale skin in its wake. As I got to the end of that swipe, I flicked the clippers outward, cutting the length off the unbuzzed hair. Now Andy could see what he'd gotten himself into. He was silent and showed no emotion, but he stared intently at his reflection as I repeated the process, stroke after stroke. As I was working my way around the back, I noticed his hands, clutching the armrests so tightly that his knuckles were white. "Dude, relax," I said with a big smile. "You're gonna look great."
He finally broke his silence. "I've never had really short hair. I grew my hair out like 10 years ago. After years of boring corporate looks, I started my own business and thought I could grow my teenage rocker hair back. I kinda liked being a hippie. This is just so...radical! I mean, I still think it's the right move, but, wow... That's my scalp! Wow..."
"Look at the bright side," I said as I ran my hand over my harshly receding #1 buzzed head. "At least you only see scalp where you WANT to. I'm getting more scalp and less hair every day, and I'm way younger than you. Besides, don't you think it's a little late to second uess it?"
He smiled weakly, but his grip never loosened until I had worked my way around his head and took the last swipe, leaving the sides and back of his head virtually bare. I'd get back to the finish the fade later, but it was time to work the top a bit. I removed the 2 hair clips that defined the top, sprayed a little water to wet it down, and parted it on the left, higher than before, where the normal part should and now would be. I combed the front section forward, leaving wet hair hanging down to Andy's eyes. Carefully, I raised the remaining sections of the top, still over 6 inches long, and lopped off all but 2 inches. The clumps of wet hair fell into the growing pile of hair on Andy's lap, But the wet hair made more of a sound as it fell, heavier with the weight of being wet and clinging together. Andy still stared through the curtain of bangs, transfixed by the process. I re-combed the shorn top. The bangs in front were cut to a relatively long four inches. I combed that to the side as well and grabbed the clippers again. I slowly and carefully began to blend the skinned sides and back until they blended seamlessly into the longer hair just above his temples.
I grabbed the Wahl shaver and began shaving the skinned parts of his head. Andy seemed a little startled that I was actually shaving him, but said nothing. The Wahl shaver is the best razor for barbers to use for head shaving. They eat through the thickest of hair but they are a little loud and make a grinding sound as they work. I can understand how that could unsettle a guy who'd never even had short hair, ler alone a shaved head.
Then I towel-dried the top, and worked in a dollop of Lay-Rite Super Hold pomade. I used my comb to define a sharp part, and worked the top to lay naturally across his head. Then, with the fine side of the comb, I worked the front into a pompadour that stood up from his head and then swept slightly to the right. Andy finally broke a smile as the style he'd envisioned came into shape. But the smile quickly vanished when he saw a straight razor in my hand. "With those waves," I explained, "we really need to give you a hard part. I'll just shave a clean line so you'll have an easier time styling it yourself." Andy was silent as I notched a 1/8 inch part in his hair.
"What are we doing with that goat?" I asked him. He asked what I thought and I told him that a goatee really didn't work with this new look. I told him that a lot of guys rock full beards with it, though.
"Yeah, I know. But truth is, this is the best I can do. I grow about twelve hairs between my chin and my sideburns. We've come this far. Let's just go baby-face."
I told him that was a great choice and my edgers made quick work of the little beard and mustache. I doled out a handful of hot lather, covered the former site of his sideburns, over his ears and at the base of his hairline on his neck. Then I covered the area where his goatee had been. As I looked closer, I saw no sign of stubble in between those areas. I carefully shaved the ediges of his haircut, then his chin and upper lip.
A little alcohol, a little powder and then I dusted him off with the brush, removed the cape and shook that huge pile of auburn hair to the floor as I used the hand mirror to show him the back and asked if he liked it.
Slowly, Andy's hand rose to the back of his head and he rubbed the pale newly shorn skin. A satisfied grin crossed his face as he said "I can't believe I actually did it. It's all gone. I'm practically bald! And geez, without my chin fuzz, I look like a little kid. People are gonna be shocked!"
"Yeah, but you didn't answer my question..."
"Like it? I love it! I feel, I don't know... liberated! And I'm pretty sure I'm going to laid like this! Thanks, Marc. You did what I wanted and it's perfect. What do I owe you?"
I told him it was $15. He handed me a fifty and told me to keep the change. He asked how often he should come back to maintain it and I told him he shouldn't go longer than a month. But he was back 10 days later, saying that he couldn't see his scalp anymore. Another $50 bill. And in the few months since then, he's been back every 10 days. Summer's getting hot. Maybe next time, I'll see if I can't get him to try a flattop. I'll bet he'd love a nice shaved landing strip...