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The trouble with cats by P.J.

The trouble with cats
Cooper sat in the wooden waiting room chair. He was watching Clive work on the shaggy business man's cut on his current customer.(Or victim as Cooper remembered thinking back) The last time he'd been here he was 12 years old. It was just after school got out, the first Saturday of summer. Dad had brought all his boys in for their summer butches. They got two, sometimes three haircuts a year, the summer butch, a trim before school started, and an ivy or Princeton just before Christmas. The summer cut was the worst, loads of hair got shaved off all at once. Cooper remembered well the feeling of having all his gorgeous dark mahogany red locks clipper shaved off, a #1 all over he remembered his dad saying, for all of 'em Clive. God how he hated those haircuts. He used to put up such a fuss, even though the end result was always the same. He left feeling like he'd been shaved bald, even though it was a #1 butch.

When his thirteenth birthday arrived Cooper begged his dad to be let out of the annual schools out clipper shaving events. He was now a teenager, couldn't he be allowed to take care of his hair on his own now, please. To his shock and dismay dad said O.K., he was tired of fighting about it anyway. As long as you keep it clean and combed, off your face, and NO pony tails his dad said.
Cooper was over the moon. wow he thought, not only will I not get shaved this summer but I won't get shaved ever again, I'll definitely see to that, he thought.

All through high school and college he maintained his mane, now cut into a deep rounded v in the back, all combed back, the longest part just touching his shoulder blades. Layered and thick, just a bit of wave to it. The girls went crazy for it. So did some of the guys. Cooper always thought of himself as decent looking, by the time he finished college he was a strapping 6 feet tall, wth a slim waisted, long legged athletic build. He had a ready smile for those that knew him well.

Now he was here at the scene of those many scalpings, needing a trim for his youngest brothers wedding. Tommy was in the Navy, just finishing basic training, and going to ship out in less than a month. He was marrying his high school sweetheart. They'd been together since grade school. Cooper was honored to be asked to be his best man. Logan, the brother in between Tommy and Cooper, was also standing up in the wedding party. a true family affair.

Cooper was the last one to arrive home, having to travel half way across the country from hi s new job. The stag party was tonight, the wedding tomorrow. The place that he'd been going to for hair trims while in high school was gone, Clive's was the only place he knew of that was still around. He was confident that without dad in the shop he could talk Clive through trimming his mane the way he wanted it. Clive was never malusious about those brutal shearings back then, he was just following dads orders.

Coop absent mindedly ran his hands through his plush thick locks, examining the split ends he wanted trimmed by Clive. Clive hadn't changes much in the last 10 years. Cooper thought he detected a bit of grey sprinkled through his perfect business cut dark blonde hair. Clive still had the perfectly trimmed moustache and goatee also. He was middle age, Cooper guessed, very professional in his blue tunic and black slacks. The shop hadn't changed much either, possibly a fresh coat of white paint above the wainscot and around the big plate glass storefront windows. The polished tile floors and mahogany back board and mirrors were the same as ever.

Clive was concentrating on the current client, running the clippers up into the gentlemen's thick blonde hair in the back, giving him a hint of a taper, cleaning up his nape. Then trimming around his ears, leaving it nice and full. when the thick forelock got combed down, Clive got Coopers attention. The thick shiny blond forelock came down to the guys upper lip, cut at a slight angle. Clive slid his shears in under it as Coop looked on. Clive knew he had Coops attention. Raising the shears to midway between nose and eye, he started snipping. Three inches of thick plush bangs slid to the cape. Cooper had a surprised expression on his face for Clive. Coop thought, wow that never happened for us when we used to come in. Clive worked his magic on the rest of the gentleman's hair, trimming the top a bit shorter, and doing a bit of layering. Soon he was done. The blonde gentleman and Clive went up to the register to settle up. Cooper had to admit the gentleman looked good, short haired, but a good cut over all. Now Cooper was suddenly a bundle of nerves. Why had he come back here, surely if he'd taken a bit of time there must be a salon somewhere around. It wasn't like they were in the middle of the boonies, this was the burbs after all. Clive walked back, quickly brushed off the chair, gave the floor a quick sweep, and smiled at Cooper and patted the big chair, Come on up son, you're my last customer of the day.

As coop approached the chair, Clive said, You look familiar, haven't you been in here before son. Yes, Clive, It's me, Cooper, Jim's oldest son. Ah, of course, yes, I do remember you. Coop flopped into the chair, flipping his long thick mane back off of his face. Clive quickly sterry stripped and caped him. Struggling to get the cape snapped with the thick bulky mane hanging in the way. It's been quite awhile though hasn't it Cooper. I think you weren't yet a teenager the last time I had you under the cape if I recall. Yes sir, Coop replied. I'm all done with college now and working halfway across the country. I'm just in town for my youngest brother Tommy's wedding.

That's why I'm in here actually Clive, I was wondering if you could give me a good trim up. Take the split end off, and layer the back. Trim up the curls back there a bit. Nothing drastic. I love my long flowing locks sir. I don't ever remember seeing you cut longer hair though, are you able to do that sort of thing sir? Clive laughed, he ran both hands through Coops plush mane, sliding them from temple to shoulder blades. Cooper I can do most any cut from a high and tight to a shag. Even done a few mullets, they seem to be coming back in fashion again, god knows why.
You have a beautiful healthy head of hair here son, well maintained, very impressive. Thank you sir, I've come a long way from the summer butches you used to give us back in the day. Ah, yes, I remember those Clive said, shaking his head. Your dad was always one to get the most for his money wasn't he.

Well, I can certainly get you all set for the wedding son, don't worry. You say young Tommy is getting married. I haven't seen him in here in awhile either. You 'd hardly recognize him sir, Coop replied, he's all bulked up, filled out, just finishing basic training in the Navy. Sporting a high and tight haircut, quite a change for him sir. Hmm, Clive said, combing Coops impressive mane down and sectioning him off, a high and tight eh. I do one of those every now and then, usually on guys your age, trying to go for the military look. Clive brushed out the long flowing locks on the back of Coops head. You'd look good with one too son, Clive cooed to Cooper.
Up to that point Cooper been starting to relax, the conversation was helping calm his nerves. Now he shivered a bit, oh, I don't think so sir, I never liked the feel of the clippers on my head sir.
Well Clive purred back, I'm going to start with them back here and clean up your neck a bit. Don't get to upset, O.K.
Clive pulled the long thick locks to the side and took his balding clippers slowly up from the base of Coops neck to his hairline. MMMN, that feel s great sir, I don't ever remember it feeling that good when I was young sir, Cooper murmured. Well we've progressed a bit with clipper technology son, these are much smoother and quieter than the old style clippers. That feels really good sir. Clive made his way along Coopers neckline from left to right. cleaning him up as he went. Just as he was finishing on the right side Cooper sneezed. Clive involuntarily severed a 6 inch long hank of Coopers plush locks, just behind his right ear, it promptly slid into Coopers lap. Oh, God, Clive, what happened. I tried to be as still as possible but that sneeze came out of nowhere, Cooper moaned. Cooper, son, I'm afraid we're going to have to trim the back a bit shorter, son. Cooper squeaked, how much shorter sir. He was mortified. Well Clive said, sawing his finger back and forth at Coopers hairline, About this short son. S**t! really sir! Clive looked Cooper in the eye, and said, sorry son, but there's no way to but that back on, he said gesturing to the long thick heavy locks in Coops lap. Coopers shoulders sagged, do what you have to sir, but please leave it as long as you can, O.K. Can you still round it down in the middle like it was, only shorter? Yes, yes, of course son, Clive said, secretly delighted that he would now be giving Cooper a much shorter cut, clipping off 9 or 10 inches of heavenly thick mane here in back at its longest, he'd also have to reduce the sides and top accordingly. This was turning into quite the haircut.

Clive used the clippers and comb to remove most of the long thick locks across the back, he'd come back and layer it a bit after he took care of shortening the sides. Now Cooper, I can do a couple of things here, I can cut the sides and bangs all one length, at your chin line, giving you kind of a masculine BOB cut. Or I can trim it shorter , say half way up your ears, or even expose the whole ear, and take the top short. God Clive, that's taking a lot of hair off, wow, Cooper lamented. I can't believe this is happening, and of all times, too. Pictures from the wedding will be around forever, documenting me with short hair again. S**t!. Let's try the Bob, O.K. if it doesn't look good, you can go shorter then right? Sure, sure, son, Clive said.

You want a left or right part, Clive asked, plunging the comb into the dense bulk. Dampening it down as he combed. Oh, god, I hate parts, s**t, Cooper moaned. Left, I guess, O.K. Good, good, Clive said, parting the thick heavy mane off to on the left. Relax Cooper, this will look O.K. son, Clive cooed. You'll still have plenty of hair son. Clive worked his way around Coopers head, trimming and layering, incorporating the shorter back length. As Clive was coming through the back, Cooper sneezed again. Clive inhaled sharply. Cooper jumped. Oh, Cooper, did I nick you son, Clive asked, concerned that when Cooper sneezed , the scissors dug into his scalp. No, I don't think so sir. OH, Cooper, I didn't nick you but I did take a large chuck of hair off rather high up, right to the scalp. Oh, son, this isn't good. Clive reached over to the shelf and picked up the hand mirror, showing Cooper the damage. Cooper sagged in the chair. S**t!, S**t!, S**t!, sir. I don't know what's happening, I don't usually sneeze like this, sir. Are you getting a cold son, Clive inquired. No, I don't think so sir, I don't know what's going on but now this really sucks.

Son, I'm going to have to give you a low fade to hide this, I don't see any other way out of it. That means removing all this, he said, running his hands through the thick locks along Coopers chin line, I'll have to take this up around the ears now. All the air went out of Cooper. I'm really sorry about this son. Cooper could only nod his ascent. Clive was secretly ecstatic, he was now going to be shaving all the heavenly bulk off with the clippers, the balding clippers at that. Clive started the bald line just above Coopers ears, bringing it down a bit below the O bone in the back.

Mounds of thick dark mahogany red hair began falling away into Coppers lap. He whimpered a bit, quietly to himself. Clive worked away, shaping the low bald faded sides and back. While Clive thought Cooper was going to look quite handsome with this new cut, he knew Cooper was distraught. The fading work was basically complete now. Clive started working along above the fade line, blending the longer remaining hair above, reducing it down bit by bit, hoping that Cooper wasn't paying attention to the fact that his hair was getting shorter still. The upper parts of the sides and back now looked good, blended into the lower fade work. Clive picked up a large section of the hair on top, saying, I'll leave this on the long side son, we can try it slicked back, and combed forward too, and see which you prefer. Clive picked up Coopers still long bangs, combing them straight up, and was gauging how much length to leave. Let's try it here he said, getting Coopers attention in the big mirrors reflection. All cooper could do was shrug his shoulders at this point. Clive noticed that Coopers nose was a bit red, and his eyes were getting red rimmed, he didn't think the lad had been crying though. Cooper are you O.K. son, Clive asked, getting concerned. I don't know sir, I haven't been like this in quite awhile sir. Cooper watched in the mirror, as Clive pulled his bangs up again and started to cut. Cooper involuntarily sneezed again. This time Clive said it. S**t son! Clive barked, as the long thick bang lock, accidently severed almost at the hairline fell into Cooper lap. Cooper instantly realized what had happened and now began to quietly cry.

Sir, do you own a cat by any chance, Cooper quietly asked. Clive looked up in horror. Why son, he responded with raised brows. I've been racking my brain sir, and the last time I started sneezing like this it was because I was around a cat. I've become deathly allergic to them over the last few years sir. OH, MY GOD, Clive moaned. Cooper, I have my new young Siamese in the back room. He isn't usually here but I picked him up from being neutered at the vet at lunchtime today and brought him here to keep an eye on him. I've been handling him on and off all afternoon.

Clive quickly stripped off his barbers tunic, and the shirt underneath. Taking both into the back of the shop. He emerged with a new tunic on, and a Benadryl for Cooper with a glass of water. Is it O.K. for you to take this son, Clive asked. You seem to be getting worse by the minute. Oh, yes, thank you sir, that's great, Cooper said, popping the pill and gulping it down with the water.

That done, both now looked at Coopers reflection in the mirror. Cooper looked away quickly. Sir? was all he eeked out. Clive combed Coppers bangs down, there was a large section that had been cut extremely short, almost to the hairline at his forehead. Cooper, son, I can fix this, but.... I know sir, it'll be very short, Cooper said, completing the sentence for Clive. Yes, son, I can try and do a short Caesar, and see how it looks, or go with a #5, or maybe a #6 clipper. The sides are going to have to come all off though, clipped up short. I think the Caesar might look a bit Frankenstein ish myself, Clive said. I'd recommend the clippered look. Cooper was quietly crying now. O.K. sir, just do it. Clive snapped a #6 on and unceremoniously plowed in from front to back, where the accidental cut had been made earlier. Nope, sorry son, gonna have to go with the #5, sorry. Cooper sagged further in response. Clive ran the #5 all over the top, upper sides, and upper back, short lengths of mahogany hair raining down into the cape. It didn't take long to remove it all. He snapped the clippers off, brushed the top of Coopers stubbly head a couple of times, and said O.K. what do you think, do you want it shorter? Cooper was quiet, too quiet for Clive's taste. Clive studied the boy in the mirror. Cooper had a murderous expression on his face for a bit. He brought his hands out from under the cape and scrubbed them across the stubble on top of his head. MY HIAR! he cried, covering his face and sobbing. Clive stood behind him and gently massaged his shoulders. Cooper, son, he said quietly, almost whispering. It doesn't look bad son, only radically different for you. Take my word for it, as a barber, I see drastic transformations like this frequently. Usually asked for though, I'll admit. You're an incredibly handsome guy son. This cut makes your emerald green eyes pop. I think that if I taper the sides a bit more, here and here, Clive motioned , it'll look fine. I could also raise the fade higher, that would look great too, I do that cut a lot these days. You have dark hair so it'll look great. You do look good son, despite what your thinking, trust me.

To Clive's surprise, after a couple more minutes to stew about it, Cooper said, let's go for the higher fade sir, might as well look like a total freak, right? Now Cooper , stop that , or I'll leave you as you are right now. Take a deep breath son. I realize this is a bit traumatic but once you adjust to it, you'll be O.K. really, you will. It will grow back if you want too. Oh, I know , it'll grow back sir, it'll only take about 2 years to get anywhere near what it was when I came in here sir. Alright, that's enough, let me finish up . Clive got the balders out, and raised the fade up to above the O bone in back, and up high on the sides. Once he was finished, Cooper sighed. Well, I guess that's it, Cooper said, right sir. I don't really have any hair left to cut. This is even worse than the brutal butch cuts I used to get sir. I came in for a trim, and I'm going to leave with the haircut I detest most in the world. God this sucks, Cooper said quietly to himself.

Cooper ! Those butch cuts totally lacked any type of style at all, Clive replied, getting exasperated. This at least looks like we took some time and meant to do it. I'm sure you didn't come in here intending to get this cut either. I'd say I'll make it up to you next time, but I'm pretty sure that next time is nonexistent I'd guess.

Clive brushed him off, and unsnapped the cape. The whole of Coopers treasured locks slowly slid to the floor as the cape was removed. Cooper teered up again, quickly looking away.
Cooper studied himself in the big mirror, hands on hips. Clive looked on, holding his breath, expecting a final tirade. Cooper turned his head from side to side. His features really did stand out. The strong jaw line, bright eyes, and fortunately his ears were perfect and didn't stick out. Yes, he thought to himself, maybe I can pull this look off, just for the wedding though, no haircuts for at least a year.

Well sir, Cooper said, it's going to be hard for the guests to tell which of us is the new recruit sir. Cooper gave a sad smile at Clive and ran his hand over the short stubble on the top of his head. No one's going to know it's me standing up on the alter with him , that's for sure.

Cooper, Clive said, it does look good son, it really does. And yes for you it's brutally short, I will admit. No charge by the way, not after all that's happened here son, I feel truly awful about this. I never dreamed that cat could cause this much trouble. Allergies suck, Cooper lamented aloud. Have a good evening sir Cooper said as he headed for the door. Deep breath son, It'll be O.K. , Clive said as the lad walked out the door.

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