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Behind The Chair:The Life Of A Barber #1 by Kaleb McKinley


It was 6:20 on Tuesday morning. I had just walked into my shop at 582 East Main Street. I was located in the heart of town and my shop was busier now than it had been when I opened it two years previous. My business had grown so much that I could barely keep up. I pulled open the curtains and switched on the barber pole. I noticed there was already a white Chevrolet 4 wheel drive pick-up truck parked out by the curb. When the guy in the truck saw me opening up the shop, he got out of his vehicle and walked up. I told him good morning as he took off his ball cap. `You`re just in time to be my first victim, I mean, customer`, I laughed. He chuckled and said he had been wanting to come in, but there was always a full house. `I finally decided to get here before you open up. I knew I`d be first.` He continued, `My buddies at work said you do a damn good job so I figured I try you out.` I couldn`t help but smile. `You won`t be disappointed`, I said. He sat down in the my old black leather Koch`s barber chair. I put a Sanek strip around his neck and tightly fastened the red and white striped cape. He squirmed for a couple of seconds and then settled in. I ran my fingers through his grown out businessman`s cut. He had dark brown, almost black, hair, a handsome goatee, blue eyes, a couple of days of beard growth and the beginning of what I`d consider moderate sideburns. This guy is in his early to mid thirties. He told me his name is Kyle and he also said that he`s married with a couple of kids. `With the exception of the goatee, the rest of that hair has got to go,` I silently thought. `So what do you do?` I asked, taking note of his blue jeans and work shirt. `I work for Jackson Construction,` he said as he moved the footrest of the barber chair back and forth with his brown pull-on work boots. I asked him what he wanted to do with his hair and he said, `just clean me up a little. Trim the sides and thin the top.` I reached for my Oster clippers. I turned back to the chair. I gripped his head and shoved it down. His chin touched his chest. My clippers roared to life. The 000 attachment was still in place from a previous haircut. I grinned. `How unfortunate`, I thought sarcastically. In my shop, working guys very seldom get `cleaned up just a little` and they rarely only get `just a trim`. This is a barber shop where real men get real haircuts. The shearing was about to begin. I plowed the clippers up the back of his head, easily removing the hair up to the crown. This was going to be an ivy league at least. I hadn`t quite decided yet. My new construction worker client realized this would be a haircut he wouldn`t soon forget. He fidgeted, but I kept a firm grip on the top of his head. I didn`t let his head come up. His body was tensed just a little. After I ran the clippers up his head a few more times I turned them off. Temporarily releasing his head, I turned to the backbar. I was so intent on getting started on his head that I had neglected to turn on the towel steamer and prepare the liquid lather in my hot lather machine. That just wouldn`t do. I`ll need plenty of hot lather along with a few steaming `as hot as he can handle `em` towels. During this break in the action, he rubbed the back of his head. He couldn`t see it well, but he knew it was short. Very short. I wasn`t finished with him yet and he knew it. I quickly dropped my straight razor into the barbicide jar to make certain that it was sanitized. I replaced an empty bottle of shampoo near the sink with a full bottle. I had forgotten to do that at closing time the night before. Now everything was ready and I was about to continue. He looked a little nervous as I gripped his head again. I picked up my clippers and switched them on. `Relax,` I said. `You`re gonna look good. I promise.`

To be continued...Many more stories to come.



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