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One Last Haircut by Deke Cutter

Note-This is based on an episode of an old TV show called "Family."

One of the nice things about going to college here in my home town is being able to live at home. My folks are very cool and the house is big enough for all of us to live our lives. My dad works downtown. He came home today and mentioned that Harry, the barber that used to cut my hair when I was a kid was finally retiring. "He is such a nice man an always treated you so kindly, Tommy, you ought to stop by and wish him well." I looked up at a family portrait from 6 years ago on the wall and said "as long as he doesn’t give me a haircut." Harry was a very sweet man, but he always cut my very thick wavy hair into a very short crop. That’s why I had stopped visiting his shop in my mid-teens and now had a great head of hair, thick and full. Dad laughed and agreed, but said he hoped I’d stop by.

Friday was the day Harry was closing for good. My classes were over at noon and I didn’t have to work, so I headed to wish Harry well. The shop seemed empty when I entered, but Harry heard the bell ring and called out from the back of the shop. Harry looked a bit older, but his smile was as bright as ever as he came out of the back room. "Tommy, what a nice surprise. I’m just making a fresh pot of coffee, would you like one?" I responded that I did. As he returned to the back room I remained standing, looking in the mirror and suddenly feeling very self-conscious about my hair. I was just sitting down in one of the waiting chairs when Harry came in carrying two cups of coffee. He gestured with one and said: "sit in the big chair, Tommy. It is more comfortable." And so I did. We talked about Harry’s plans to move to Florida where his brother and sister lived. It turned out that he had owned the building and two others and was in good shape financially.

The subject turned to the advice Harry used to give me and the other boys about going from boy to man, not being bullied, being a gentleman etc. Then Harry got up from his chair and lightly touched my hair. He said Tommy, you have always had good healthy hair. Make sure your stylist treats it right. Don’t let her use to a hot setting on the hair dryer or any harsh products on your hair. I was tongue tied and could feel my face turning red. "Harry, I…I…I…I (I stammered) I don’t have a stylist." He just hushed me and turned away. He turned back and in his hand, he had his trust Oster clippers. He said, "Tommy I want you to have these, to remember me. I was hoping to give one more haircut today, but, the day is over." I don’t know what possessed me, but I found myself saying: "you do have one more haircut to give Harry, just like the old days."

In short order, I was caped and combed. Harry went to work. The hair on my sides and back was scooped off, leaving about an inch to be parted on the left. The top was thinned out and chopped short. He blended the sides into the top and then lathered up the sides and back and stropped up his straight razor. He finished me off with some Vitalis and combed my hair very neatly. As I looked at myself in the mirror, I wanted to laugh and to cry. I was well and truly cropped. The damage would take the better part of a year to be restored. I would be mocked by family and friend. But the haircut was technically a masterpiece. It would look good for about 5 weeks. Then the long agonizing period of growth would begin. But that was the future. For the moment, I basked in Harry’s smile, helped him sweep up the hair, and left my old friend, wondering whether this was a one off or my return to the scalped look.

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