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Chris' Dad Cut It by Joseph Murray
I remember it like it was yesterday. Even though this was forever ago, because this happened in the first grade! It still sticks out in my head every time I go get a haircut, or more so every time I’ve gotten a different haircut. Sometimes I just feel like shaking it up. Typically, I get a bald fade on the sides and backs these days. On the top can vary, maybe it’s a side part, maybe a short cropped pomp, maybe something with the texture and having across my forehead. Hell, sometimes I tell my barber to buzz it off for the summer. But the feeling of doing something different, even a little different, can be daunting. You never know what your gonna look like unless you’ve done it before.
Well, this story was about the time I unexpectedly got my haircut. I was in the first grade, not a big class, only about 20 of us. And that’s really the only people you talked to, not really any of the other first grade classes (and there were 5!) would interact with each other. Maybe at recess you’d play with a few different kids, that’s about it. Not the point though. The coolest kid in my class was named Chris. He was sweet on all the girls, and all the boys wanted to be partnered with him on class assignments. And he was always a captain in gym class. I was lucky that Chris and I were pretty friendly. Whereas most kids would rather pick on me, he really didn’t do that. Sometimes he’d even prefer to sit with me on the bus instead of someone else, maybe because I didn’t bug him.
I wouldn’t say Chris had a mushroom haircut, that would be rude, but it did give off the vibe of a bowl cut. But for some reason, it worked on him okay enough. His mix of dirty blonde and chocolate brown wisps of hair, all perfectly in place and shining in the light. And then on the bottom of his back and sideburns were perfectly trimmed, like it was done weekly or something. I had very golden, blonde hair, which sometimes stuck out in different directions because I wasn’t big on my appearance. He would sometimes say to me on the bus, "You have the same hair color as my brother," which was true. His brother in the fifth grade did have much lighter hair than his younger brother. But his older brother did not have the same haircut as him. Oh no, not at all. It was much shorter, clipped really close to the sides, maybe a #2 or 1 ½ all around. And his hair on top was fairly short, sticking up by some gel. That was something I never put in my hair, gel. At the time, I always felt like gel was only meant for cool kids. And since I felt I wasn’t one, I wouldn’t have dared to put it on my head. But Chris’ brother’s haircut looked sharp, really short, but still sharp. I wondered why Chris didn’t have the same haircut. I didn’t have any brothers so I didn’t know if that was something brothers did, get the same haircut.
It was a couple weeks after class pictures when it all started to happen. I didn’t take the bus that morning because my family had to attend a holy day of obligation service. The good thing with these early mornings was we’d stop for donuts afterwards. So my parents dropped all my sisters (I have four) and I off at school, and we were a little early. But we were allowed to go to our classrooms with no problems. Teachers were already there.
So I had missed the school bus ride in. But I hadn’t been the only one. Apparently, Chris had gotten dropped off at school. Or at least we later learned it was Chris. At first, you couldn’t recognize this boy who just walked in. Did we get a new student? No, he was going about his business as if he’d been here since September, putting his bag and coat away in his cubby like the rest of us, and gathering his pencils and notebooks. That’s when one of the girls in the class, Rachel, realized it was him. She gasped, which was a dead giveaway. Then everyone looked in the direction towards Chris, who was obviously trying his best to not turn red. Some students were in whispers now, some girls giggling, other boys making "Bzzz" noises like clippers, or using their fingers to make scissor fingers and motion them towards Chris’ direction. Our teacher, Mrs. Haven, was the first one to really speak, "Wow, Chris, new haircut? You look so handsome," she exclaimed, the happy nature a first grade teacher should give to help create a diversion. Chris smiled at her and said a quick thank-you.
I hadn’t said anything or made any noise to make Chris feel embarrassed. I don’t know if he noticed or not. It didn’t matter, because he still came towards the table I was sitting at and put his stuff down right next to me. "Hey Timmy," he said with a smile. I smiled back and said "H-hey!" awkwardly probably. He still smiled back instead of laughing at me, nice of him. "You got your haircut like your brother?" I asked. "Yep, finally. It was about time I did my dad told me," Chris said with a soft chuckle, as he rubbed the back of his head with one hand. "Still not over how this feels and looks. Its different, but I kind of like it. Is that weird?"
"No!" I quickly said, probably sounding even more awkward now. He jerked up a little, laughing a bit. "I mean, it looks great on you," and I didn’t say much else.
"Well, gee, thanks Timmy." Then class started a moment later and the rest of the day went on as usual. Every moment I could though, I would turn my gaze and look at Chris’ haircut. Nice and short on the sides and back, up to the crown of his head. And then on top, gelled to stay up, and still cut short and even (almost flat it seemed) across the top, but still spiky up there.
The rest of the week, other kids still made small comments about Chris’ haircut. One time someone made a comment, not to be a bully though, but was still sort of rude. I could tell it made Chris a little upset, as he then looked down at his desk after he heard it, and wouldn’t look up. I said to him "Hey Chris, I think it looks great. Don’t sweat it." He looked up to his left towards me and smiled. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he appreciated it. Sometimes, you just need someone to help you out and boost you up. I knew that from first hand experience. Unfortunately I didn’t always have someone to do that, but I wasn’t gonna let Chris suffer.
A few weeks went by and the comments towards Chris finally were over, until the next time he got cut I predicted. One Monday, Mrs. Haven announced we would be having a project due the next Monday. It wouldn’t be anything to worry about, because we would have a partner on it. And we would get a little bit of time to work on it each day and the weekend before it was due. The moment Mrs. Haven mentioned it would be a partner project, Chris nudged my elbow with his, I didn’t know if it was intentional or not. He didn’t look my way though. Chris had sat next to me each day ever since he came in to class with his fresh cut. Then after Mrs. Haven finished giving initial instructions she said, "Now everyone choose a partner quickly." After she said that, Chris whipped around in his chair to me and said "Hey partner," with a big smile. It made me smile, maybe blush a little too. The other kids in the class sort of got the picture that Chris was already taken, some still trying to come up and ask him if he had a partner. He was real bold though saying, "Nope, sorry, I already asked Timmy to be my partner," which was a confidence booster for me by the way he said that.
It actually was pretty great getting to work on this project with Chris. He was a pretty smart kid, and was really serious about getting stuff done. When we’d have time in class, he’d really focus on what we could split up and work on each night. "If you want to do this, I can do that. I know your better at drawing pictures," he’d direct me. We were pretty on target with getting this project efficiently done. "I think we’ll still need to work on it this weekend, but not for too long. Maybe we could hang out though, have a play date or something?"
"Sure!" I said. Did he actually want to hang out with me. "If you’d want to."
"Yeah Timmy, totally! You could come over to my house Saturday and we could work on the project and then hang out after, or we could hang out first and then work on the project," he laughed and I joined in.
When Friday rolled around, before school was done for the day, we had planned that I would go over to his house tomorrow around 2. "Just don’t forget to bring everything we need," he reminded me too on the bus ride home before he got off at his stop. I went home that night and told my parents the official plans, and where Chris’ house was. I did some more work for my end too, just a little bit, before I turned on some TV before drifting off to sleep.
The next morning I woke early to have breakfast because I had to go to a soccer game. But that was all done by 10AM. So once I got back home I showered and did some reading for school, drew a little bit in one of my notebooks, and had lunch. I then had to gather all my things for later, going over to Chris’ for the project. I pretty much had everything organized and together, not wanting there to be any problems or forget something we’d need. My dad drove me over and dropped me off, went to the front door with me, which Chris answered almost immediately after the doorbell rang. I guess he had been waiting
"Hey Timmy, hi there Mr. Rinn."
"Hi Chris, thanks so much for having Timmy over today."
"No problem," Chris said, and his dad came into the doorway at this moment. Our fathers introduced themselves to each other and got to chatting, at which time, Chris said, "Come on inside, Timmy," and my one hand was taken by Chris’ and led into the nearest living room in the house. I turned around and said bye to my dad of course.
We started the afternoon by wrapping up our project. There really wasn’t that much left to do. So we figured to get it out of the way now. It only was about an hour and a half and then we were all finished. We knew what we needed to say and do for the presentation on Monday, and both felt good about it. "Honestly, Timmy, I think our project is gonna be awesome!"
"Yeah, me too! I’m happy we finished so early, too."
"Wanna play in the backyard or something?" Chris asked, and so they did. Not for too long though, just a little bit of running around, playing a little bit of catch, Chris was better at it than me. We both eventually felt out of breath and went inside for some water.
In the kitchen, Chris poured us both some glasses. When he was doing that, I noticed that there was a lone chair sitting in the middle of the kitchen. It had what looked like a black table cloth laying across it, but then a few other tools and things you only ever saw when you get your haircut. I was a bit confused, so I asked him, "Hey Chris? How come this stuff is in your kitchen?"
"What is," he said before turning around, then coming over to where I was standing, and he said, "Oh, that! Well, that’s a barber cape and those are barber tools. My dad uses them on us when he cuts our hair."
"Your dad cuts your hair?"
"Yeah, he does! His dad was a barber so he taught all his kids, both boys and girls, how to cut hair. None of them do it as their actual profession, but they were all trained in it. So they know what they’re doing."
"So your saying your dad was the one who gave you your new haircut?"
"Yeah, he did! Like you told me when I got it, it looks like my brother’s haircut. I guess Dad wanted me to enjoy my longish hair a little while longer before cutting it short. Same thing happened with my brother at our age," Chris stated. "I don’t know why he has it all out though."
At that moment, Chris’ dad came into the kitchen. "Hey boys, had fun playing outside? I didn’t want to disturb you. Chris," he turned to his son, "I forgot to tell you, but we’re going to your grandparents’ tomorrow and the rest of the family will be there. I should have done it this morning but we were all busy. I already cut your brother’s hair while you and Timmy were playing outside, so your next," he said. Then turned to Timmy, "I’m sorry to interrupt your guys’ play date. Don’t worry though, Timmy, you don’t have to leave unless you want to. If you want you can go in the other room and watch TV or something."
"No, its okay, I can hang out here while Chris gets his haircut, if Chris is okay with it," I responded.
"Of course not, Timmy! Pull up a chair from the table," Chris said, which at first made me think by him saying to pull up a chair meant for me to get a haircut. But then I understood and I took my place at the table as Chris hoped up into the higher chair. His dad took the black cape and covered his son in it. I didn’t think Chris’ hair was particularly too long at the moment, but I guess since it had been a month since he came into school with the new haircut, it had grown a significant amount I guess. So, Chris’ dad got right to it, taking the clippers to the left side of his son’s hair, buzzing right through and leaving the hair shorter in the wake of its path.
Wow, he was cutting a fair amount off of Chris I thought to myself. I guess his hair did grow back a lot in a month. Chris’ dad kept peeling away at the longer hair to reveal the short and new sides. He’d take the clippers from the bottom and bring it up pretty high, but not across the top. Once each side and the back was done, he moved on to the top. At this moment, he brought out this really wide comb, and from the front of Chris’ head he placed it across the top at a slight angle towards the back, so that more hair stuck out from that end. With the pair of clippers, with no guard now, Chris’ dad buzzed across the comb, holding it perfectly in place. More chocolate brown hair came raining down on the cape and onto the floor. Once this detailed part was over, Chris’ dad took a regular comb and the same clippers and was cleaning up and blending between the sides and top, but still keeping everything neat and boxy. There didn’t seem to be a hair out of place or any strays sticking out from the sides. It was all perfectly clipped to a gradual length around the head, but with the front of the head not being buzzed completely down. Chris’ dad then took a spray bottle and wet the top of his son’s head, then taking a pair of scissors out of his pocket, and lightly trimmed around the front. This I guess was how Chris got that cool flip in the front of his hair. But that wasn’t all. After this part was done, he took a fair amount of gel, rubbing it through his son’s hair especially across the front, and took a comb to help make everything stay in place. Looking back and forth, all around the head, making sure everything was sticking up correctly, and then his masterpiece was done.
"There you go, Chris," he said with a smile and pat on his son’s back.
"Thanks Dad," Chris responded before looking over at me, "What do you think?"
"Great!" I said right away. "It really does look good on you."
"Thanks Timmy," Chris said. "How come you don’t put gel in your hair?"
"Me? No, I don’t know… I’m not cool enough I guess," I responded.
"What? What do you mean?" Chris was saying to me. "I think your cool, and I think you’d look awesome. Dad, wouldn’t Timmy look awesome with gel in his hair?"
"He would Chris, depends how Timmy would want that gel to style his hair though."
"What if he had my haircut, Dad?" Did Chris really just say that? What was he getting at? Did he want me to look like him?
At this moment, Chris’ dad surveyed me, eyed my head up and down and to the sides, with his one hand still holding the cape and that arm propping the other hand that held his chin as he observed me. "You boys actually do seem to have a similar head shape. Just your hair is a lighter color though, Timmy, but that isn’t a problem. I wonder if the gel would make it darker."
Chris got face-to-face with me and said, "I think you’d look really cool with your hair short, we’d look like twins. And my dad could cut it for you, right now if you wanted! Right Dad?"
"Woah, Chris, you gotta let Timmy decide. Its his head after all."
I stood there as both father and son looked at me. What was I thinking, I couldn’t just get my haircut. Not that I didn’t trust them, it just seemed weird. And what if I looked stupid with my hair short? I already was self conscious about my looks, what if this made it worse. "I don’t know Chris, what if it doesn’t look good on me."
"What do you mean? Its going to look great on you! I know it will. It would be so cool if we had matching haircuts. I could show you how to gel your hair, too."
It was tempting, and the thought that Chris wanted to have matching haircuts with someone like me was a big shock. I’d never put gel in my hair before, but now I would be possibly cutting my hair short too? But I didn’t want to upset Chris, he’d really been a great friend to me, and he seemed really excited about the idea. I just hope my family wouldn’t get mad at me. "Okay, let’s do it. Would you cut my hair please Mr. Pinot?"
"I would be more than happy to cut your hair, Timmy, come have a seat," he patted the seat of the chair, inviting me to it. And so I got up and went to it, out of the side of my eye seeing Chris really happy, beaming from cheek to cheek. He took my spot at the kitchen table and played spectator.
Once I had been caped up, Chris’ Dad asked, "Are you ready, Timmy?"
I looked at Chris, and he gave me two thumbs up, "Yes, I’m ready when you are." And with that, the pair of clippers was at my left sideburn, just like how Chris’ haircut was started. Of course, I had a lot more hair to loose. And loose it I did, it was coming off in huge piles, and flying all over the place. Because it was a lot lighter in color, it was really showing up on the cape and the floor. There wasn’t a mirror I was looking at so I didn’t know what to expect, only based off my senses. It felt weird when half my head was buzzed down and other half not. But that feeling would end soon enough. Mr. Pinot cleaned up around the edges before moving on to the top. He took out that wide comb again and said, "Now Timmy, you have a lot more hair on top of your head then Chris did, so don’t be scared. Just hold your head still for me please," and so I did. When the clippers came across the comb, it made a lot more noise than with Chris’ haircut. I also was still seeing sheeves of hair flying down in front of me There was a lot to get through so it took a bit longer. For some reason, and I didn’t understand why, I was getting a bit warm and bothered in my seat. I didn’t know what that meant; I’d never experienced it before. When the top was finally done and the comb removed, I could almost feel the difference on my head. It felt buzzed, but not like a buzzcut. Then Chris’ Dad continued with the haircut, cleaning up any loose strays, before he sprayed my top. I still had the longish bangs toward the front. So when he cut mine, they made a true crunching sound, and fell down onto my lap in large wet clumps. The hair also looked darker from the water. He continued to even things out with the scissors before putting them down and putting gel in his hands. He rubbed it good across my head and began to style it, with his hands and a comb. This part felt really good, I could almost moan. I couldn’t believe I was finally wearing gel. Actually, I couldn’t believe I was getting a haircut by Chris’ dad in their kitchen! Once it was all up to Mr. Pinot’s liking, he took the scissors one last time to make any last few adjustments.
Finally it seemed done, as was whatever I had been feeling during the process of my haircut. He carefully took the cape off me, and said, "Alright Timmy, there you go. Chris, why don’t you go show Timmy his new haircut in the bathroom mirror." With that, Chris leaped up from his chair, grabbed me by the hand, and rushed me over to the bathroom a couple rooms away. Before going in, he turned on the lights, covered my eyes and said, "No peeking until I tell you okay?" I nodded my head and let him lead me in. Once we were in front of the mirror, and we both could fit, he removed his hands saying, "Look!" and there it was. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I had the same exact haircut as my friend Chris. Nice and short, sharp and crisp around the edges and on the top. I felt around all the buzzed parts and couldn’t believe it. My hair did look a bit darker though, not as blonde anymore, almost dark like Chris’. We really looked similar now. We both laughed at each other and smiled. I couldn’t believe this happened, I was so happy he convinced me!
The Pinot’s offered that I could stay over for dinner and have a sleepover if I wanted with Chris. My parents didn’t mind, but when Mr. Pinot called my parents to ask, he also warned them that he had given their son a haircut. My parents didn’t seem upset or angry, they said they were excited to see it the next day. Chris and I hung out the rest of the night after dinner, we changed into pajamas (I was allowed to borrow his which were really cool looking, they didn’t even seem like pajamas, more like gym clothes) and ate ice cream sundaes. Then we played video games with his older brother, all three of us in matching haircuts. Eventually, Chris and I watched a movie in his room on his bed, and ended up falling asleep, so I never slept in the air mattress to his bedside.
We woke up in the morning and realized this, how close we were sleeping next to each other. I looked at him, eye level with each other, he was stroking the top of my head. It felt really good. He was smiling as always. "Do you really think it looks good?" I asked.
"It looks awesome Timmy!" he said and that made me smile. "Want me to show you how I style my hair with gel?"
"Sure!" I responded, and so he led me to the bathroom and gave a demonstration on his head as I watched. Then he let me do it on myself, with a little help from him. I didn’t mind, I quite enjoyed having Chris touch my hair. I still was in shock of everything, but really happy to have someone like Chris as a friend. And I could tell he felt the same. We were both so different in some ways but that didn’t matter to us, we got along. This was really the beginning of a great friendship I could tell.