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Not like other boys by Snipped Sam
Every morning on holiday I would fetch the newspaper from the newsagents in the town, it was a nice walk, and I really liked going because the newsagents also had a barber’s shop in the back. I was at the beginning stage of my fascination with haircuts, a bit of a dilemma for a fourteen-year-old in 1972 when the pressure was to have hair longer. The barber who I identified through his barbers’ jacket usually was in the shop serving unless he was in the back, cutting hair, he was a nice old gentleman very chatty. During the day I would think about it and wonder what a haircut there would be like, it was not possible to see anything of the barbers from the newsagents as multi coloured plastic strip blinds provided privacy. It was possible to hear the snipping of scissors coming from the barber’s shop, there was usually the same lady there serving in the shop.
One morning my father decided to come with me after breakfast to see if they had a magazine he wanted, dad liked to keep his eye on my hair and although I had managed to grow it a bit it was far from long. When we got to the shop the barber was there and very chatty, he had the magazine that dad wanted, which really pleased him.
"Any thing else I can help you with today gentlemen"
"Was there anything you would like Chris?"
Part of me really wanted to say that I would like a haircut, the idea of stepping through the plastic blinds was quite exciting. Even more exciting would be if the barber gave me a really short haircut and in one way I wanted dad to turn around to the barber and ask him to cut my hair.
"No, I don’t think so" I replied.
We left the shop and walked back slowly
"He seemed a nice old chap Chris"
"Yes, I think he is dad"
"Looks like he is the barber there, I expect he would give you a rather short haircut given the chance Chris, but you’re not quite due for your next haircut yet are you son?"
"I don’t know dad"
I replied sorting of flirting with it, my last haircut was about two weeks before and dad liked me to have my haircut about every four weeks.
"I don’t hear you protesting Chris, you would usually be telling me no your next haircut isn’t for ages"
I sorted of shrugged it off, later after a day out, dad said he wanted to go back to the newsagents to see if they had the tobacco that my grandad liked. I was happy to go with him, and whilst we were in there waiting to be served two lads obviously brothers emerged with the barber from the back of the shop. They both had very short haircuts, clipped sides and back and neatly Brylcreemed into place, the older boy who was a similar age to me paid for the haircuts. The lady was now serving dad and they had the tobacco for grandad. When the boys left the barber acknowledged dad and asked him how his day was.
"We have had a really good day thanks, and you have the tobacco too that we wanted for Chris’s grandad"
"I must say what very smart haircuts those two lads had"
"That’s very kind of you, they’re nice lads too, my haircuts do tend to be on the short side which really pleases their father"
"I think I would be very pleased if Chris came home with a haircut like that"
I stood there wondering the outcome of this conversation, those haircuts were so short, very old fashioned, when I went home it would be back to boring Terry for my haircuts. I tell myself if it’s really short and if I don’t like it will soon grow again, but I am still reluctant to ask for a haircut.
"Well Sir, that is easily taken care if you would like his hair to be cut while you are on holiday here, I can even do it now, it is going to be very hot tomorrow so he would feel the benefit"
After some minor hesitation dad decided to take him up on the offer, and I was left with the barber and some haircut money whilst dad went to listen to a cricket match back at the caravan. I followed the barber and at last went the other side of the plastic blinds, there was a main barber’s chair with a taller chair to the right of it which was like a perching stool, and four assorted wooden chairs to sit and wait your turn, it was quite small. He picked up the cape which was resting on the back of the main chair, I went to sit in the main chair.
"No Chris, that’s not the chair, this one please"
So, I sat in the taller chair, it had a straight back so I was sitting up straight with my arms not over the arm rests of the chair, the navy-blue cape was placed in position and tucked in snugly with some tissue at the back. The cape seemed enormous, but of course the chair was much narrower than a big chair and my feet were not touching the floor and I couldn’t see them as the cape was covering them, he lightly sprayed my hair with some water and then began to comb it
"When you came in the shop for a newspaper the other day for the first time I thought to myself he could do with one of my haircuts, and here you in the chair"
"I know, dad seemed really happy about what you are going to do"
"Perhaps you are not so happy Chris"
"Perhaps, but I know it has to be done Sir"
"That’s right Chris, has to be done"
He said placing his hand on the top of my head and bending it all the way down, on the floor there was a lot of hair and mine was about to join it. I could see a long electric cable moving across the floor coming towards the chair I was sitting in, I then heard the purr of electric clippers, they touched the back of my head and they began to explore the back of my head, working their way upwards, removing my chestnut brown hair as they went. I could feel the hair fall away, part of me was really anxious about what was taking place and another part of me was telling myself this is what I wanted. I could have tried to defend my hair, pleaded with dad not to leave me there, but no I had been quite happy to be left with the barber. The truth was that’s what I had wanted ever since I had first stepped into the newsagents. I could hear conversation in the newsagents, and of course they would be able to hear the sound of clippers at work. The barber rested his hand on the top of my head as he tilted it to the side to work above my ears, as he worked away he said reassuring things such as:" good lad … all going smoothly …. looking smart". He then changed the clippers and used them on the lower area on the back of my head and above my ears. After a really vigorous brushing off of loose hairs, he lifted my head up
"There young Chris, all clipped just like a sheep would be for its wool"
"Yes, all clipped"
I replied as he took a comb and scissors and started to cut my hair on top, there was lots of fast scissor snipping and hair falling from my head, then another brush down. He then released the straight razor from its safety position inside the handle, first he edged and shaped at the back which pulled rather and felt uncomfortable he then attended to the area around and above my ears. After a wipe down with a cotton napkin type towel, he combed my hair forward then took the red pot of Brylcreem. He took a generous amount from the pot and applied it rubbing it into my hair, the smell was wonderful, he then combed my hair into place so I had a sharp parting on the left side, my hair lay very flat. This was the first time my hair had been Brylcreemed and I loved it, he then took the powder blower and after loosening the cape applied a lot of powder on my neck and at the back of my collar.
"Would you like to see the back Chris"
He showed me the back in the mirror, there was a lot of white skin, and my neck and head looked very red from the clipping, the finish of the haircut was so short, but he soon put the mirror away removed the gown and handed me a tissue. I stood there wiping my neck and feeling the back of my head.
"That will do" he said quite impatiently.
So, I quickly put the tissue in the bin and followed him into the shop to pay for my haircut, I paid and left quietly. As I walked back to the caravan I could feel the three specific areas on the back of my head, the lower area was rough skin from where it had been shaved clean, a very bristly area with very short clipped hair then a small area which was Brylcreemed at the top. To me it was the best haircut ever, when I got back to the caravan, dad inspected my haircut, he was really impressed with it
"Well done son, you look such a smart young man"
"When we get home, we are going to have to find you a new barber as I can’t see Terry giving you one of these"
Sure enough, when my next haircut was due four weeks later, dad had a barber lined up and took me for my first haircut there. From then on dad kept my hair very short, other boys would have hated it but not me.