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The Holiday by Raldo by Raldo


Recovered story by Raldo


It was possibly the hottest day of the summer so far as I walked into the air-conditioned chill of the busiest barbershop in town. It was two months since my last haircut and the heat was really getting to me and later that day I was going to stay with my Grandparents for a few weeks. I took a seat in the corner and picked up a recent but well thumbed car magazine to pass the time along with viewing the more interesting haircuts.

The shop was full of guys with their kids getting their hair buzzed off because of the heat wave. I browsed through the pages of the magazine but found myself paying a lot more attention to the haircutting going on in the three chairs. Two of them were occupied with buzzing the kids, quickly and efficiently stripping them of every last millimeter of hair, stopping just short of razor shaving them smooth one after the other like a production line. The third chair proved to be far more interesting with several very nice haircuts taking place in fairly quick succession ranging from very short high and tights to full head shaves, it seems the hot weather had brought on a rush of extra short haircuts – not a single trim to be seen but it was far too hot to be bothered with hair.

By the standards of the haircuts that I was witnessing my hair was very long, I had made a little bit of an effort and brushed it back off my face so it didn’t look too shaggy. I’ve had a long standing the urge to have a really short haircut and I’ve gone through countless attempts to try and fulfill my urge like visiting risky barbers and mumbling vague instructions that could easily be misinterpreted always hoping that the barber would not listen and just take control and cut it how he wanted, but up to now it’s always been a bit of a disappointment.

The urge to have a short haircut goes back to when I was ten years old and my Dad took me to the barbers and had him give me a short flattop before we went to visit my Grandparents for a holiday. I remember hating it and feeling naked, it was a shock to my system and I even had to suffer the indignity of going through it a second time during the holiday when my Grandad and Dad decided we should all three get matching haircuts before we went for a family photo. When it was my turn to get in the chair my Grandad told the barber to cut it like his, skin the sides clean and flatten the top even more than it already was and exactly the same haircut for my Dad so we’d all look our best and the same on the family photo. In a strange way I thought it was worth suffering the haircut just for the pleasure of seeing my Dad have to suffer it too. My dad just sat there and took it like a man without saying a single word, he looked very strange to me but at the same time kind of cool, I’d never seen him with his hair so short except for in the old photos of him when he was a kid, it made him look younger and more sort of masculine, even like he should be in the military. My Grandad always had a really short flattop, he hated long hair on men and he always made my Dad keep his hair in a variety of extremely short haircuts right up until he left home and joined the army. My Dad was fairly laid back about the length of my hair when I was younger he never imposed any strict rules on me, it was always neat but never extremely short except for when we visited the Grandparents and even then it was not usually too short, just short enough to keep Grandad happy. I seem to remember I’d been playing up or in trouble all week so as far as he was concerned I got what I deserved, he saw the haircut as a sort of punishment. I look at the photo now and think we all look outstanding and smart and how good it would have been to have been taken to the barbershop every two weeks and had to have it cut that short or even shorter all through my childhood, it gives me a sense that I maybe missed out on something.

I’d been promising my grandparents that I would visit them for the last couple of years but things constantly got in the way and I had to keep putting it off. I was really in need of a good long holiday and at the same time it was also the perfect excuse to get a really short haircut. I knew if I turned up with my hair looking the way it was I’d never hear the end of it from my Grandad, so it was easy to convince myself that it was a necessary evil getting it a really short haircut. I think there was also an element of anticipation of going through a similar experience to the one I had when I was a kid and the chance to get a few more haircuts while I was there. I’d decided to wait for the barber I was sitting near who was doing the more interesting short cut on the adult customers, so far every haircut had been extreme by my standards but the risk factor was still in my mind and part of the excitement.

My turn was next, my pulse started racing, the guy in front of me was dealt with in record time, a number one buzz all over, a dust down with the brush and he was paying and I was being offered the chair. Here we go! The anticipation was a thrill in itself. I sat in the leather chair and tried to sit back and relax, I really wanted to enjoy the whole experience. I’d watched all the other guys in the chair before me and they all just seemed to sit down and give instructions and ignore the proceeding as if it was no big deal – for me it was a big deal but I want to savor it.

The barber came back, took a paper strip and tucked it into my collar then shook the striped cape and spread it over me and fastened it tightly around my neck. He looked at me in the mirror and asked me how I would like my hair cut. I motioned to one of the pictures on the wall and said I’d like it cut that way, he said it was an Ivy League cut and he thought I should consider going shorter because it was so hot outside, I thought it was short enough for the moment. Compared to the way my hair was it looked very short to me, so he did the cut I asked for. I left the barbershop feeling a lot lighter on the head but just a little disappointed that I’d not let him go a lot shorter, I would have turned around and gone back in if the shop had not been so busy.

I went home and had a shower and got ready to go on holiday. I thought since I’d not seen my Grandparents for so long I’d put on a smart suit and shirt and tie to make a good impression when my Grandad picked me up at the airport. My Taxi was here so I checked myself in the mirror and thought I looked pretty smart with the suit and the new haircut. I grabbed my luggage went down to the taxi and headed off for the airport.

My flight arrived on time and I was through the airport quickly my Grandad was waiting for me and looking just the way he did last time I visited. He came across and greeted me and said it was good to see me again, we got my luggage and headed for his car. I thought this is good, my hair must look ok or he would have said something. We drove away from the airport back towards his house. Halfway home he looked at me and said we need to stop off in town for a while because it was his haircut day, “that’s fine”, I said. Nothing else was said until we pulled into the parking bay out side the barbershop. My Grandad stopped the car and turned to me and said I may as well join him since I would look better with a shorter haircut.
I was taken aback - I told him I had just had a haircut and I thought it suited me was a good length for the summer, he just laughed and said don’t argue you need it shorter in this heat and it will suit you much better than the way it is now so follow me.
I remember time we all got matching haircuts and he pretty much made my Dad get his cut and he just gave in to save the hassle so I thought I may as well just gave in rather than get into an argument before we even get to the house. I knew what was coming next and I thought I’m glad I’m not at home where I know people, I’ll have plenty of time to get used to it. We went in the barbershop, it was just the same as last time I had a haircut there everything the same, and the smell brought the whole experience back in a flash. Something I hadn’t realized when I was a kid was that this was not a barbershop that knew how to do anything that resembled a modern haircut. I knew that very soon I was going to fulfill the desire to get a real short haircut. I sat down to wait my turn thinking I’ll let my Grandad go first, I thought wrong, the chair was vacant and my Grandad said “you’re first, you need it a lot more than me”, I got in the chair for the second time today the paper was tucked in and the cape tightened around my neck. I was just about to give the barber instructions when my Grandads voice boomed out “he wants it close cropped like mine, short flattop with a landing strip and razor shave the back and sides high”, It was a shock but half expected and I thought what the hell, no-one knows me and it will grow out eventually or I might just end up keeping it.

The clippers raced up the side of my head making history of my nice new Ivy League haircut, it was very quickly stripped leaving not much more than stubble on top and the back and sides were lathered and shaved glass smooth with a straight razor, that was a new and very interesting experience for me. The barber brushed me down and removed the cape, the slightest movement of air in the shop sent shivers through me it was so sensitive and I couldn’t believe what I looked like, It was a shock, I sat down in the shop feeling a little strange and self-conscious but everyone was telling me how good I looked and it was the haircut for me. I sat touching the back of my head and loving the feel of it and watching my Grandad go through the same haircut experience and enjoying every second of it. He was finished up and paid and said to the barber as we left the shop we’ll see you next week.

As we went to the car I questioned what he had just said and discovered that he now has his hair cleaned up every week so he always looks his best. We arrived home and some of the other relatives were waiting to greet me. I stepped in the house feeling even more self-conscious than I had in the barbershop when it had just been cut but to my surprise my two Uncles and my cousin were all sporting exactly the same extreme haircuts and it turned out they had all just been for a haircut before we got there. They all were more than complimentary about my new image and especially impressed by how good the whole look was on me with the suit and the haircut. It was good being with family and fitting in, I know I would have been really uncomfortable if I had turned up with the shaggy hair and been given a hard time until it was on the barbershop floor.

It’s a small town where they live and with my new look I very quickly fit in, none of the men have anything even slightly resembling a hairstyle, every one is cropped very short and I soon got to enjoying the weekly haircuts with my uncles and Grandad. I’ve even been thinking about staying long term and I can’t imagine growing my hair any longer than it gets after a week.

My parents arrived last week unexpectedly and my Dad was reluctantly but quickly driven to the barbers by his brother who was happy to give instructions to the barber. He was soon stripped clean of his long business haircut and sporting very high whitewalls and a neat flattop with a landing strip on top, he claims he hates and gives in for a quiet life but we all think he should have kept it that way always, he just needs to spend more time in the company of the men in his family who all know what an excellent haircut should look like.

The End





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