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Just Put A Bowl And Start Cutting by Jonathan
"Jonathan, your mom needs to just put a bowl on your head and just start cutting!" Chris was telling me.
"Jonathan did you hear what he said?" asked my friend Brian.
"Yeah, I heard it," I said.
"Are you going to cut your hair? Chris is a ninth grader and he's not gonna stop bothering you until yout cut it," said Brian.
"No, I'm not getting a hair cut," I say.
It was 1979 and I just started Oak Junior High School. I'm in 7th grade. I had always had a paralyzing fear of haircuts. I never wanted much taken off and my aunt often just trimmed my hair slightly. When I was smaller I had horrible nightmare memories of barbershops. Last summer my aunt had moved to Texas. I had no way to get my haircut now.
To make things worse once I'd hit puberty my hair had suddenly gotten curlier. I don't know why this happened, but it did. My hair was always a bit wavy, but now it was downright curly. I'm not sure if there is some scientific explanation or not? In the late 70's longer feathered styled hair was in style. My hair was long, but no matter how I combed it or what I did to it, the curls would not go away. The longer it got the curlier.
I had a fear of really short hair. It was the 1970's and no kid wanted his ears showing. To make it worse my ears were funny looking. They were pinched in around the tips and kind of dented in. I wanted my long hair to cover them completely. I had a huge problem now. My curlier hair just didn't cooperate any longer. It was evident I might have to cut it shorter, possibly exposing my ears.
"Hey, Jonathan, what's all this curly sh#&?" asks Jason.
"It's just how my hair is," I say.
"You need to cut all that curly sh#% off," says Jason.
Jason sits in front of me in 1st period social studies. He is the second person in a week that's made fun of my curly hair. Last year in 6th grade I didn't have this problem with my hair. My hair was about the longest it had ever gotten. Now it just turned curly and I didn't know what to do. I didn't want it too short, but what?
"Hey you should go to the barbers and tell them to cut it shave short," Jason said.
In the locker room today during 3rd period p.e. the older kids were after me about my hair again! It was hard to be a seventh grader. Eighth and nine graders always picked on you. Being a seventh grader you were the lowest man on the pole.
"Hey, Jonathan, I thought I told you yesterday to get a haircut. You need to tell your mom to put a bowl on your head and just start cutting. That hair of yours is a curly mess," says Chris.
"Look at that mess on your head!" Ricky says to me.
I just stared at Chris who has very nice straight feathered hair. He's a ninth grader and about the most popular kid at Oak Junior High. Chris is the p.e. coach's teacher assistant. He is kind of the second in command in my 7th grade gym class. Chris is the school sports star. This guy has gotten used to flexing his power around. It's turned him into a bit of a bully.
"Jonathan, you need to do something about that hair. Come look in the mirror over here with me," Chris says.
I reluctantly follow him over to one of the big glass mirrors in the locker room and stare into the mirror.
"Jonathan, you see all this curly stuff needs to get cut off, you need it way shorter around the ears right here too," Chris says.
"Oh yeah," I say.
"Jonathan, are you going to do that?" my friend Brian asks.
"No, what a jerk," I say.
That next morning while waiting for the bus at the bus stop I now encounter my fourth hair criticism. This guy Randy in eighth grade starts in.
"Jonathan, I heard if you shave your head it will grow back in straight," Randy says.
"Really, are you sure that works?" I ask.
"Yeah my cousin did it last summer and now it's grown in straight," Randy says.
"I don't want to shave my head though," I say.
"You might have to Jonathan, that's the only way to fix the curls," Randy says.
"Oh man, I don't know," I say.
Soon the bus comes to the stop and we all get on. As I ride the bus to school I can't stop thinking about my hair now. My parents have just separated and my mom is really busy working right now. I don't know if I should tell her about my hair problem. She really never cuts hair and might send me to the barber. How else will I get my hair cut? It's gotten extra long right now. I wonder if that's why people are saying things about it. Even if I did decide to go to the barbers, I couldn't. We have very little money right now and my mom doesn't make much money at her part time job.
"Jonathan, what's with your hair?" asks Donna in 2nd period art class.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"It's too long and curly right now, you need a haircut," she says.
I feel my curly mop and realize it is a mess!
"Well yeah, um I'll get one soon," I tell her.
"I'd do that Jonathan, that hair has to go," says Donna.
Now it is 3rd period p.e. I dreaded seeing Chris the ninth grade teacher's assistant. I don't want to hear about that bowl haircut again. I know that if they put a bowl on my head and started cutting it would wind up really short! For sure the hair over my ears would be snipped off then. I wanted to keep my ears covered. I had a fear of people seeing them. Maybe it was no big deal. They didn't stick out and were medium sized. It was just those dented places around the tips on my ears I hated.
"Hey Jonathan, what's up, no haircut yet!" Chris says.
"No, my mom doesn't know how to cut hair," I say.
"Just have her put a bowl on top and start cutting around it, it's easy!" says Chris.
"No, she won't do that, and we don't have any money for a haircut right now," I nervously say.
"Well, do you want me to give you a haircut then?" asks Chris.
"Oh no that's ok, thanks though," I say.
"Think about it Jonathan, that hair has to be cut soon," says Chris.
"Ok," I say.
"Maybe next week one day, ask your mom if I can, it's free," says Chris.
I then realized this kid might be right, I do need a hair cut! I really don't want one however. I'm filled with fear and dread! He's not the only one whose telling me it's time for a haircut. Should I let Chris cut off my hair? I just don't want it too short.
I spend the rest of the day thinking if I should mention the haircut to my mom. Chris is not a teacher, he should be allowed to cut it. When would he do it and would coach Smith really let him cut it anyway? I wonder if he will bring a bowl?
"Hey Jonathan, what are you doing after school?" Brian asks.
"Oh nothing, just homework and watching t.v.," I say.
"Can you come over to my house?" asks Brian.
That afternoon after school I ride my bike over to Brian's house. We play cards and ride our bikes through the neighborhood. He mentions Chris and the haircut.
"Jonathan, are you really letting Chris cut your hair?" Brian asks.
"No, I don't think so," I answer.
"Are you going to the barbers then?" asks Brian.
"I don't know," I say.
Soon it is getting dark and I head home. I'm a latch key kid and my mom works late as a waitress. She rarely sees me. Thursday is her only day off. I have no brothers or sisters. I spent most of my evenings watching t.v. In a way the people in the t.v. shows are my friends. Most of them are sit com reruns from a decade ago. I watch Mash, I Love Lucy, Bewitched, Green Acres and many others. It's lonely in my home. The sound of the t.v. voices cheers me up.
I have so much nervous tension about my haircut. I look in the mirror and almost want to attempt cutting my hair by myself, yet am too afraid. I feel like asking my mom for some money for the barbers. I had some bad shearing haircut nightmares there years ago. In 3rd grade my hair got all shaved off on the back and sides. I just don't want to chance that again!
I tell myself by the time I go to bed I make up my mind what to do about my hair. I have four choices. Choice one, ask Chris to cut it. Choice two, go to the barber if my mom has money. Choice three, tell my mom about the bowl thing. Choice four, let it grow longer. I finally decide to just let Chris cut it!
That day in third period gym he is in the locker room as usual. He comes up to me while I'm getting dress for gym.
"So Jonathan, did you think about that haircut?" asks Chris.
"Yes, I did. I want you to give me a haircut," I say.
I can't believe I got the words out so fast like that. My heart starts to beat fast and my mouth is dry. I realized I'd said it! Now I can't turn back.
"Oh yeah, really Jonathan," says Chris.
"Yes," I say.
I reach up and rub my curly mop.
"Let me see your hair closer," says Chris.
He grabs some of my hair and pulls it slightly. He is trying to figure out how he's cutting it I figured.
"I'll ask coach if I can do it now or after school," says Chris.
"Hey, Olson, get in here!" coach yells.
I go into his office and Chris is in there with him.
"Do you want this guy to give you a haircut Olson?" asks coach.
"Yeah, I told him yes," I say.
"Well I give some of the basketball and football players haircuts sometimes after school, so I guess it's o.k." coach says.
"Hey, did you ask your mom?" asks Chris.
"She said it's ok," I lied.
"Can we just cut Olson's hair now during class? I have practice after school," says Chris.
"Olson needs a haircut so bad, go for it!" coach says.
Soon the other kids and coach leave the locker room and are now out on the field for gym class. Chris leads me into a small room in the back of the locker room. We pass through some metal caged in rooms with a couple of see though caged doors. I have never been back here. It's near the area where they sell the gym uniforms. We come to the end of a small hall and Chris flips a couple of light switches on. The flourescent lights high above flicker on lighting the room. I see a desk and a couple chairs in there, not much else.
"Have a seat here Jonathan," says Chris harshly.
"Take off your short so we can just brush the hair off you, then you can head to class," he says.
I'm really nervous and feel my body shake. I didn't really expect this to be how the haircut would be. I realized too I'm now at the mercy of Chris. No one else is here and he can cut my hair how he wants. Knowing how he is he likely will too.
Suddenly Chris reached over and opened the desk drawer and takes out a box of hair clippers, scissors and a mess of various hair clipper guard combs. My heart sinks when I see those hair clippers. I hadn't expected those, just scissors!
"Olson, we are going to cut your hair with this one," Chris says.
He held up a red plastic clipper guard that looked like it was about an inch long. It had a #3 on it. Oh, this was not the bowl at all! I was going to get my head shaved. This guy was so smooth and sure of himself he'd tricked me back here. I should have picked choice two, the barbers. This was my worst fear! My hair will be nearly all shaved and my ears exposed!
"Jonathan, we use this for the football players sometimes when they want their heads shaved," says Chris.
"Do we have to shave it," I ask.
"Olson, your hair is too curly to just cut with the scissors, it isn't the kind of hair to grow long. You need to keep it shaved down some," says Chris.
"In a month or so I'll shave it again," he said.
I sit there helpless and say nothing more. I realized my hair texture had changed since puberty and I might not be able to keep it longer anymore. But a shaved head might even be worse than the curly mop for me in 1979.
"One, two, three, here we go!" yells Chris.
First he takes the scissors and starts hacking away at my curly mane. My dark brown curls start to fall in my lap and on the floor. I can tell Chris is just cutting and cutting without any rhyme or reason right now. I can tell he's cutting nearly all my bangs off. Then he removes the hair covering my ears. He reached with his fingers and folds them down so he doesn't cut them with the scissors. I say nothing and want to cry. My hair is just being hacked off around my head. It's too late and my fate is sealed. Why am I so shy!
"Ok Olson, now part two, the clippers!" shoots Chris.
The clippers humm on with a ccllaacckk first. Then Chris runs the red comb up the left side of my head. He pushes it into my scalp hard! The runs it across the top of my head. More hair is falling into my lap. He runs the clippers back down the side of my head and folds down my left ear. Then shaves more off the top. Then he makes many runs up and down on the back of my head. Finally he finishes the right side and shaves any hair left around that ear. Soon this unwanted haircut is over!
"That's it Olson, I'm done. Go back in the locker room and change back into your street clothes," says Chris.