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It's Comb Over for you! by Barbershop Thrill
It’s Comb OVER for you! By Barbershop Thrill
Looking in the mirror that morning I decided I would have to just make it happen. I was working and running around so much lately that I didn’t have time to get a haircut. I hadn’t had a haircut in months and being new in town I didn’t really have a barbershop that I went to as a regular. My hair was getting sloppy looking and took extra effort to keep looking styled in the windy fall days we were having.
I was 28 and while I didn’t want to admit it my hair was starting to thin rapidly on top. As I tried to comb it in place I winced as I noticed the reflection in the mirror was not what I wanted to see. The overhead light above me was reflecting my scalp through my hair and the top of my head appeared bald with a thin layer of see through hair resting between the darker thicker sides. I quickly turned off the overhead light to see my hair on top return in the reflection and breathed a sigh of relief. I reached into a drawer and grabbed a hand mirror to see if I had my hair combed to cover the thinning spot on my crown. Damn evil overhead lights. They make me look terrible. I knew it wasn’t really the lights fault but I didn’t want to think more about it.
After combing it as neatly as I could I blasted my hair with some hairspray. It wasn’t something I wanted to use but the last few windy days left me looking like Jack Nicholson in the Shining before I could get from my car into my office. It was almost empty.
Maybe I can ask the barber to give me a different style that would look more edgy and cool and I won’t need to use it anymore. I thought of the shaggy deliberately messy look my friend with thinning hair had in college. It made him look more boyish and sporty instead of just balding. Seeing the dark circles under my eyes from my recent lack of sleep I laughed at my own thoughts. "Yeah…but instead I might look like a college student who just pulled a couple of all nighters and has been losing his hair from stress," I said to myself! Regardless, I needed a haircut and I resolved to ask my barber if he could try to cut it differently to make it look a little fuller. I also decided to get some real rest that evening to get rid of the dark circles.
I looked at my watch and noticed I was running late so started to bolt out the door. I wanted to go to the barbers wearing more relaxed younger looking clothes so the barber would see me as the young guy I saw myself as outside work. I imagined he would then be more able to come up with a sporty hairstyle that fit me. However, since I was running late I didn’t have time to put any in a backpack and I wouldn’t have time to return home and change before making it to the barbers. I knew my standard engineer business clothes made me look older but as a young engineer at my company I needed to look professional and more experienced. I knew it wasn’t the real me though and looked forward to changing into I could be myself at home. . I had a meeting with a customer for my company in an hour and so instead of wearing my contacts I just put on my glasses. They were retro style so they had large black plastic frames. I liked them because my grandfather had ones similar.
When I got to my car I had to tug at my waistband as I put my computer in the trunk. My pants seemed to have become tighter over the last few months. I looked down and grimaced at a potbelly that had begun to hang over the conservative navy dress pants I had on. I reached back to adjust the seat and realized my butt had grown a lot bigger too. "Dang not my butt too! I need to get to the gym." I moaned. I had on a light blue oxford shirt and a red tie that now rested on my round gut when I sat down in my car. As I put on my seatbelt I realized that I also had to struggle to get the belt under my belly. With my busy work schedule I had been having to grab breakfast on the way and getting take out in the evening. I was also had gotten into a pattern of having a beer more regularly to relax after the long day.
At the end of the day I was disappointed that I still had no time to run home to change and make it to the barbershop I had seen near my home. I parked and walked up with the wind blowing my hair all over the place. I walked in and tried smoothing the mess down in embarrassment.
There were three barbers chairs that had customers in them and one other man in the waiting chairs. The other man waiting was in his 40’s and he had thin hair on top that was grown out to a longer spiky style with swept back sides. It appeared his hair had gotten too long to spike up without looking too messy. I thought maybe his style would work for me when I got to be his age. I was glad to be able wait because I would have time to wind down and hopefully get to choose a barber based on what I observed.
The first barber was in his late 50’s and was cutting the hair of a young college age kid into a clean pompadour type flattop. I was suddenly very jealous of the handsome thick brown flattop he had. It looked like dark brown fur on his head. I had never had thick hair like his.
The second barber was perhaps in his 50’ also but had not started on his customer yet. He excused himself to use the bathroom. The customer in his chair nodded and picked up a magazine he had in his lap. He was in his early 40’s and because his hair had started thinning hair like mine I was interested in seeing how he would get his hair cut since it might also give me an example to try.
The man’s hair was a nice golden brown and it shined under the lights. It was cut in a long shaggy style. With bangs over his forehead, and the sides covering his ears and then longer in the back.. I could see in the mirror that the back of his hair was allowed to grown longer and full on the bottom 1/3 so it reached down to the bottom of his collar where it formed a squared off more blunt curtain of hair. Sort of like a surfer might have it. It curled up some and looked youthful despite the fact that he was losing it on top. Overall however it seemed overgrown and could probably use the trim. I was eager to see how he would have his hair cut an thought maybe that could be a style for me. My hair was too short in the back at the moment, but I started to consider the idea of growing mine longer.
Unlike the the two middle aged guys and their older barbers, the last barber was finishing up on a young guy who was maybe my age. Both had amazing heads of hair. The barber himself was young and had a cool black pompadour with a low bald fade. His pomp was shiny and tall and his hair swept back to full sweep of hair that was left extra full and thick on the top third of the back of his head to display a perfect upswept DA that then faded away to a low bald fade. He had a cool v shaped chevron shaved into the hair just above the low fade. It was the kind of haircut that was clean and tight around the ears but showed off his thick hair on top.
The young barber was cutting his customers dark brown hair into a swept forward ceasar crop that he had put lots of different choppy length into to create texture. It flowed forward and ended in thick blunt bangs about an inch above his eyebrows. Some cutting of the ends made the straight fringe across his forehead look choppy. His top was a like a thick bottle cap of hair with his sides cut high and tight so they were almost bald. I thought it looked tough like he was ready for a rugby game. T
he waiting chairs were across from the barbers station and I looked at myself in the mirrors. The main lights were right over the barber chairs so it was darker where the waiting chairs sat. I was pleased to see that my hair looked fairly thick and dark in the reflection. Maybe I could get this young barber and he could give me some kind of cool haircut too. I watched as the barber finished up using his clippers to carve in a stripe along the top of his customers fade on the sides and connected it to a v-shape that dipped down in the back. It looked really sweet and I thought maybe I could have something cool like that.
Soon he was done and I watched to see if the old guy who was there before me would rise to take the place of the guy with the Caesar cut. He indicated that he was waiting for the first chair. Happily I was able to get the young barber.
Once the customer with the Caesar cut left I was asked to the young barbers chair. As he caped me up he asked me for my glasses and politely said, "How would you like me to cut your hair sir." I explained that because my hair was thinning some maybe he could do something to make it look fuller and neater.
"And the sides," he asked? Thinking about the cools shaved line the last guy had I said,
"I’ll be ok with letting you do something you think would look good." I said. He seemed pleased to hear my confidence in him and he said, "Yes sir, I’m sure I can make you look good."
As he began to comb my hair I watched as the older man with the messy spiky hair on top was getting caped up in the first barber’s chair since the college guy with the flattop had left. I heard him say take it back to a flat on top and, and trim up the fenders around the ears. I’d like the DA thinned out in the back some so it’s not too heavy to stay in place and give it a clean squared off neckline. I was surprised at first about what he asked for but looking how his hair was grown out it I realized that it was actually how he had his hair cut previously. It had just been a long time since his last haircut.
I wondered if maybe a having my thinning hair on top cut into a flattop with fenders might be the way to manage it when I got older. At least it gave the hair on top something to do and wouldn’t get messy. Also, when the short bristles on top eventually fell out it wouldn’t be a big change.
I was also watching the second chair with the middle aged guy who had thinning hair like mine. His barber had returned and I listened intently as what he might ask for. I figured it might help me find a style for when I reached middle age. "I just want a little trim today." He said. "I know I’m losing it but I just don’t want to have it all buzzed off. I did that once and since my head is big I just looked like a thug. I like having some hair to comb and I like to leave it a little longer in the back because I like the curls I get at the bottom. I was curious to see how much the barber would cut the man’s hair since he just needed a trim. I watched as he combed through the guys hair and looked at him from a few angles. Then he said, "I think you have good style that works for you now but I think you could try owning your hairloss by making it a classic slicked back style. Lots of guys go that route when they are losing hair but don’t want to shave it or try to hide or mask the loss. It shows you’re more confident by working with what hair you have. You can basically keep the style even as you lose more hair on top. When you eventually just have sides to slick back it will seem to have always been naturally your look. Are you willing to let me try." "Go for it, I’ve got nothing to lose but more hair." He laughed.
To my surprise the barber wet down his whole head with a spray bottle and began combing his all his hair straight back. It was now clearly showing his receding hairline that had been hidden under his bangs. The man looked a little nervous to see himself that way but didn’t object. His barber began to trim the ends of the top a little and add a few layers to the sides but it was clear he wasn’t going to be combing it back forward or to the side once he began to comb it back. The slicked back style looked pretty good actually. It made him look more confident like a banker or lawyer or mafia guy might have. It was a style I hadn’t thought of for myself yet but I liked that even with a balding top it left him with hair to style with no apologies.
Later I heard the barber tell him as he put some pomade into his hands and rubbed it through the man’s hair. "With this style you’ll be just slicking it all back with a little shiny pomade and it’s done. I left the length in the back below your ears like you wanted. That keep your curls back here and it gives you a little individuality and some hair for your wife to play with. It’s looking sharp!" I could see the smile form on the guys face relax and light up when his barber complimented him and his new look.
During the time the older men were getting their hair cut I could feel my barber working on me. I could feel the clippers working tight around my ears and in the lower part of the back. I also felt the comb lifting and cutting my hair on top and on the hair at the top of my sides and back.
My barber then surprised me by wetting the top down with a spray bottle too. He said, "I’m going to use a small amount of mousse to give you more volume." Volume sounded good and he went to work with a hairdryer and round brush. I couldn’t see what he was doing and since I had never used a hairdryer before I was excited to see the new me. I thought, maybe he was even able to give me a pompador like he had. Finally after some straight razor shaving around my ears and neckline and some careful combing I knew my haircut was done. Then my barber put his hand in front of my eyes and sprayed some hairspray on the top. Using hairspray surprised me because I thought I wouldn’t need it after getting my hair cut. I was then even more curious now to see my new look.
Soon my barber handed me my glasses and turned me toward the mirror. I stared in shock at my image. It took me a few seconds to register that it was me in the reflection. When I sat down in the young barber’s chair I had thought he would make me look like a cool and stylish 20 something. However he had decided something entirely different for me.
My part had been moved a full 2 inches to the left. I smiled weakly and turned my head to see the new part travel straight back along the left side of my head. The hair on top swept exactly perpendicular to that part over and across the top of my head. That hair had previously had been combed downward at the top of my left side was now combed and blended into the rest of the hair on top. It was a clear attempt to put more hair on top of my head which now appeared much wider because my hair started on the far left side and continued to the far right side of my head. It formed a smooth wide and flat plane of brown hair across the top.
The barber was able to give it more volume with his hairdryer and brush so I was glad that it wasn’t plastered down to my scalp. However I was dumbstruck. I had full knowledge that my hair was thin on top but I had never imagined at 28, a barber would have started transitioning me to a combover!
This young barber had apparently saw me as much older and decided to use his skills to turn me into a middle aged man! I told myself it must have been the dark circles under my eyes, conservative clothes and retro black glasses that made me look older. Maybe it was the potbelly I now had from eating poorly.
I turned my head and things got worse. Just like in my bathroom, the bright light over the chair hit my hair at a different angle and seemed to be shining right through the top. This made the top hair practically disappear in contrast to my sides. I could see the round pink bald top of my head and my mouth fell open. No that can’t be me I’m only 28! I still have hair, right? I turned my head back to change the angle of light and my hair returned.
It was now painfully clear that I was now going to need to buy and use hairspray as a regular thing to keep the hair on top carefully arranged and held in place. My mind raced at the thought of the inevitable day when hairspray would be the only thing holding the hair on top my head as iit draped over a smooth bald dome underneath. I felt like someone had gut punched my round belly I could see my face turn deathly pale.
The young barber’s face looked for my reaction as I looked into the mirror and then back to him. It was clear from his eager expression that he had thought he had done a good job making the best of my pathetic hair.
I looked at his cool black pompadour haircut and youthful face. I suddenly felt embarrassed to have even thought that I could get a young man’s haircut. This barber had done his best with the sad hair I had left. I had no right to expect more. After all my hair was thinning and he did put in a lot of effort to make it look fuller, trimmed, and combed into a tidy shape.
I looked at myself again and tried to see it in a positive light. At least I wasn’t bald yet and the flat wide top gave a square shape to my head like a flattop. I did like that. He did cut the sides in a more interesting way than I had before. At the top they appeared to be 2" long at the top and Then half way down the sides my hair sharply tapered down in an inward angle until it faded away into a wide white bald arches that ran around my ears. The tapered area showed a lot lighter as you could see skin though the short hair so they created definite whitewalls. I like that this gave my head a more interesting upside down triangular shape compared to the regular tapered sides that I usually had.
However, the short area seemed lighter in color than I would have thought. "Wait, is this gray hair ?" I asked, "Yeah, you got a little starting there. If you keep it short it we can cut out most of it out for now, " said my barber. "Of course that eventually stops working he laughed. I get some guy’s your age tell me to cut out the gray and then they are shocked when the day comes when I hand them a mirror and they see I had to shave most of their sides bald."
My mind started spinning at the thought of now becoming both gray and bald. I blinked a few times and then snapped out of it when he said. "Don’t worry about that though you’re probably got a couple years until your 50’s. I got you looking sharp now. You look good man." He said that rubbing my shoulders.
"Fifies!" I said to myself in horror. I looked at my reflection and realized that he really did think I was 20 years older than I was. Trying to find a positive thought I looked at my haircut and saw that I did look more mature but I didn’t look terrible. Maybe this will be good for work too.
I wasn’t fooling my self too much though. I knew I was now faced with the fact that one day I would have to ask a barber to snip off what would become just a flap of hair combed over a mostly bald top. Then he would shave away any surviving strands that refused to fall out up there. I would eventually have a shiny bald dome and my sides would turn fully gray and I wouldn’t ever look like the young guy I imagined I was just a half an hour earlier. I wouldn’t even be the middle aged looking guy I had now become.
After the barber finished up brushing off my neck he took off the cape. Standing up to pay at the register I saw my full image in the mirror. The young guy out of college in my mind was now replaced with that of a middle aged engineer that should be someone’s Dad.
I weakly smiled at my refection and walked to the counter to pay the barber. I tried to cheer myself up and told myself that I looked somehow more mature and comfortable. At least bald and gray was some day off in the future. I thanked the young barber for taking care of me and I bought a can of extra hold hairspray. "Here’s my card sir. I hope you come back as a regular," said the young barber. I smiled and said I would and thanks for the new look.