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We go to Pownal, part Two by Jack A
To catch you up to the present, I had been tricked into going for a haircut in Pownal at Sam's barbershop. I'm in Sam's old barber chair, trapped by the pinstriped white cape. I was ready as I was ever going to be for this unwanted haircut by my friend's barber. ( Need I remind you a haircut was NOT my idea, but that of my parents who were away for the weekend? )Anyhow the torture commenced....
Sam grabbed hold of my hair on top, using it to lean my head over for the first swipe of the black clippers. Sam totally missed my sideburn, just going front to back starting at my temple and around my ear, then down a litle to the center of my neck. Those blades were even noisier than I thought they'd be, right next to my ear like that. Sam let go of my hair and spun me around,and repeated the process. Again, from my temple, over my left ear, and down to my neck. He pushed my head down to my chest and started clipping more of my hair in back with the same blade, cutting a whole lot higher than it was ever cut before. I couldn't see that little mirror, so I couldn't tell how short he was cutting my prized sun bleached long hair. The cape started to get covered with huge chunks of my hair and it looked like he'd cut off a lot. Damn. Just what I didn't want.
Finally the loud clippers stopped. Then Sam picked up a small buzzer that hummed like my alarm clock, and ran them right above my ears and up my sideburns where the other clippers hadn't touched. And then, I felt the teeth dig in as he ran the little buzzer all the way up to that bump in the back of my head like everybody has. Old Sam was pretty fast with the clippers, all the while pushing my head where he wanted it. I wondered if my neck would hurt after all that moving against its will.
"Ok, time to trim the long hair now son. Look straight ahead and don't move", he said as he raised another set of clippers to my forehead. I ducked real fast. What was he doing?? "No, no, I don"t want it buzzed short", I reminded him. "Sure, sure,not too short. I got it! he said gruffly with a hint of anger in his voice. I guess Sam didn't like people telling him how to cut hair. He picked a comb off the counter and combed my hair straight forwards again. Then he lifted the hair over my ears upwards with the comb, and swiftly ran the clippers across it. That was repeated all around to the other side of my head, just a little bit higher than the first clippers went when my scalping started.It looked like maybe a half inch was falling over my shoulders to the cape. Sam didn't cut anything on the top of my head yet though. "I'm not touching the top son, you said you wanted to leave it long" he reminded me. Huh? Even my barber at home had to cut some hair off the top or else thinned it out with thinning shears ..maybe this really is going to be a cool long haircut! He wet my head with something that stunk and combed my hair down over my eyes. A pair of shears appeared above my nose. Three quick snips later I couldn't see any hair up there. . Damn! I noticed that Sam hadn't gone straight across, instead cutting my bangs at an angle,and almost to my hairline on the right. More combing, a snip here and there with the scissors, and maybe my "regular trim" was done. Sam loosened the cape, shook off a pile of hair the size of a small cat, but then he placed it back over my shoulders.
Wait, why is he spreading shaving cream over my neck and ears? He scraped over my ears and across the back with a disposable Bic razor. How short had he cut the sides? Sam massaged some gooey stuff out of a large tin into my hair, flopping my head around with his hands. He combed it one final time, carefully carving a part on my left in the process. I noticed he flipped my forehead hair back like I usually did, that was good. I wished the mirror was bigger so I could see what he'd done to me, but I'd have to wait till we got home for that. Off went the cape, down I went, and I stepped out of the "electric chair" none too soon. I hoped the haircut looked okay, but with no big mirrors around I couldn't check it out.
Just then Earl's dad walked in with Kenny, and sat right down in the barber chair. "Same as usual, Sam", he told the barber as he was getting wrapped up for his haircut. Kenny pointed at me and his brother and snickered. "Earl got scalped, Billy got scalped", he taunted. Earl and I looked at each other, wondering just how bad were our haircuts? I ran my hands over my greasy hair, hoping to get an idea of just how awful my haircut was. My neck felt bare and so did the skin over my ears. Up top I didn't notice any change in length but I sure couldn't get my bangs to hang past my eyes any more. And what had he put in my hair? It felt like it was permanently glued in place. Hopefully I could get the stuff washed out in the shower when we got to the farm. Then I looked in shock at Earl's haircut.
Earl's hair looked like it usually did after his normal monthly crew cut, but lots shorter around the ears than usual. White skin was exposed for almost an inch up from the top of his ears. "Wow, you really got an ear lowering!", I said. "Oh yeah?, you did too!"Earl replied. That didn't sound good. I looked at his dad's haircut in progress and saw old Sam taking the same steps he had with my haircut. Wow, now Mr Smith's as bald as Earl over his ears and most of the way up the back of his head, and Sam's hacking off a lot of his hair on top too. I hope my hair isn't that short! A quick neck shave,a squirt of oily hair tonic, and his haircut was finished. Mr.Smith wiped a hand over his neck as he walked to the last waiting chair and said, "Kenny, hop right up there so we can get home in time to feed the cows"! He looked at me and said "Nothing like a good haircut to make a man feel new again, right Billy? You look like your ears got lowered plenty there son. Looking good!" Oh no....what had Sam done?
Kenny the brat, wrapped quickly in the same old white cape, told Sam he didn't want "no ear lowering job like them guys", pointing at the three of us. Sam said "sure, son, not a problem at all. How about a light trim instead?" In five minutes Kenny looked like he's been to my regular barber back home. He hopped down from the chair of torture. All he got was a light regular trim, with neat sideburns squared off halfway down his ears and his back hair tapering to skin right at the bottom. Kenny's bangs were cut at an angle, but not as severely short as mine were. His left eye still could be covered by his blond locks and the short side ended up right below his eyebrows. He didn't even get greased up like me and Mr Smith.That spoiled brat gets to wear his hair the way he wants!
Earl's dad handed some money to Sam,said "keep the change" and we all piled in the car glad the ordeal was behind us.. "Look at my four handsome men!" Mrs. Smith gushed as we fastened our seat belts. "You all look so nice now, with the hair off your ears and out of your eyes. You really got your money's worth, Billy! You too Earl!...Looking good, guys!" She turned around and started talking with Mr. Smith about the Farm Bureau again, and we rode back to the farm, as gloomy as we were when we found out why we were going to Pownal.
As soon as the Buick stopped in the Smith's barnyard everybody in the back seat piled out. I ran to the downstairs bathroom to see what my haircut really looked like, and Earl went upstairs to his bedroom for the same reason. I closed the door and went to the mirror over the sink. Holy Toledo!!! I looked almost as bald as Mr Smith! Dammit! There was no hair left for at least an inch over my ears. No sideburns either, just naked white skin and a tan line where they used to end. I couldn't see the back, but it felt the same as the sides. But the rest of my hair looked almost untouched, just plastered against my head with comb lines all through it..
I could see where Sam had roughly blended the incredibly short hair into my longer hair, but higher up he hadn't cut it at all. My bangs were as I had feared, cut in a straight line slanted at a pretty good angle. I could almost see the ends of my hair over my left eye if I combed my hair straight down, but the other side was sliced off not even an inch below my hairline. My part was higher up than it used to be,too. Wow. Darn it all to heck I got scalped bad! I couldn't even drag a comb through my hair thanks to whatever that gooey stuff was. The butcher of Pownal had made me look like a nerd from 1950. It was an incredibly bad haircut! I put my baseball cap on and noticed something else....with the hat on my head I couldn't see ANY hair at all! It looked like Sam had shaved my head shiny bald.. Damn, I really did get scalped! What a miserable way to spend a Saturday morning. Of course my mom would be impressed,once she saw my head Sunday night. But in school Monday I know my classmates would point and stare, and then give me a hard time because my ears were lowered so much.
That was the last and only time I went with Earl to Pownal. He did grow his hair longer that winter into a "regular" like I used to have, and I just let my hair grow hidden under a wool cap. By December my hair was getting pretty long again, and those crooked bangs reached my nose on the left, and barely over my eyebrow on the right. I still had to comb it like Sam had done, or I looked really strange. The skin over my ears was finally covered in hair again, but you could still see a step where the long hair had met skin before. At least it was cold enough now to justify wearing my ski hat all day, a habit I had adopted in protest back in October. My next haircut was to be at a different barber after Valentines day in February. I sure didn't go to Sam and my regular guy retired and closed up shop the week after Christmas. I didn't relish the thought of breaking in another new barber, but that's another story.
The end....for now.