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A quiet, obedient boy by Storyteller
This story happened in 1978 in Brazil, when almost all 12-year-olds had long hair. I, as everyone else, wanted to be that way. (My parents started to let me grow my hair longer when I was 8 years old).
By then, my straight brown hair fell to my shoulders, covering my pale skin and my big ears. One day in October, after a few months without a haircut, during the winter, my mother told me that I could visit the barber to get a trim.
As I was an obedient son, I took the money and went to the barber, who was a friendly man around 60 years old, who used to cut my hair just a little, without having to say much, I just had to say: "please, Sir, as usual" and he knew what to do. Until then, I have never heard of haircut names, nor seen, heard, or felt clippers.
Upon arriving at the barber shop, I saw a little note saying that the barber had to travel for a month and that the barbershop would be closed in that while.
I was afraid to go home and have my mother think that I was lying if I said the shop was closed. Since I didn't know any other barbers, I started walking around the neighborhood trying to find another barbershop that was open.
Then, I found a barbershop that was very close to my house, but that I had never seen before. I saw the sign saying "open", I couldn't see the inside looking from the outside. I entered. It was an old barbershop, even by the standards of those days. Everything was very simple and organized. Very different from the one I used to go to. The barber was a 65-year-old man, with Male Pattern Baldness, clippered #1 on sides and back, and a well-trimmed gray mustache. He was wearing a white smock, old pants and loafers. When I saw the barber, I, who was always taught to be very polite and respectful with elders, said: "Good afternoon, Sir, excuse me, I need a haircut."
The barber smiled slightly, pointed to the large barberchair and said "Sure, my boy, sit there." I obeyed his instructions and had a seat. The barber then asked "How do we do it?" Only at this point did I realize that I never had to tell my regular barber what he wanted.
I was silent for a few moments and the barber kept looking at me. Then he said, "Do you want me to cut your hair in the usual way?" I was so relieved that he asked me that question, cause it was what I usually said to my barber. I didn’t think about how could he know what was my usual and said "Yes, yes Sir." He put a large white cloth cape around my neck taking care that my hair was not caught inside. Then he lifted the chair up and turned it with back to the mirror. This seemed strange to me because I was usually in front of the mirror, but I didn't say anything.
I couldn't see what was happening, I heard the barber move some instruments behind the chair. Then, I felt the barber push my head down, chin against chest. "Don't move, son," he told me.
Immediately a loud sound was heard in the barbershop and I felt a chill when something metallic touched my nape and started to move up. Then I started to see big strands of brown hair falling over the cape onto my lap, in front of my eyes. I tried to move my head, but it was impossible, the barber controlled it very firm. He said, "Stay still, boy." I obediently stopped trying to move my head.
The hairdresser kept his strong hand on top of my head and a few times again I felt that machine (which I would soon learn were clippers) from my nape to some point that seemed to be almost at the crown. And the hair was accumulating in the cape.
For a moment, clippers stopped their sound. I had a very strange feeling from the barber's hand directly on the back of my head, without feeling my hair. As soon as he realized he had done a good job thus far, he raised my head again and shifted slightly as he moved to the left side. There, clippers began to move from sideburns to crown. And a lot of hair fell on one side of the chair. I was silent. And he kept working, now on the right side. It felt like he did his job on the sides very fast.
Again, the barber turned clippers off a bit and ran his hand all over the sides and back of my head to make sure he did a good job. Although I was not seeing it, I could already feel that my hair was very very short in that area, but I did not know how much about it.
Then, I saw the clippers in the barber’s hands. I saw that he was removing a piece of metal with the number 0 written five times and putting another with the number 2 in its place. By then, I had no idea what that meant. The barber then put my head in a very straight position and looked at me, seriously. He switched the clippers on again and started moving them on the top of my head. I felt the metal running through my head. At this time, a lot of hair was falling, in front of me, from the sides, everywhere. With a few more movements of the barber with the clippers on the top a lot of hair left, and he turned off the clippers and stopped.
He rubbed the top of my head and was satisfied with his work. "Perfect, son," he said. I was looking at him, serious, quiet, obedient. He was putting the clippers back in their place when he said: "Oh yes, I was almost missing something". Then he pulled out a small electric shaver. He held my head again, it was strange to feel that his fingers not touching much hair there.
Then that little machine started working, it had a different noisy sound. All of that was totally new to me, and surprising, as I was expecting nothing of that. He moved that shaver all over the back and sides, very high. Then, it finally stopped. During the entire time the cut occurred, I kept my attitude: obedient, silent, without protesting or asking, because that was how I behaved with an adult, especially with an older person, even not understanding what was going on and feeling that the long hair I liked so much was being cut in what I already supposed was a very short haircut.
The barber picked up a small brush and started cleaning my head and my face with it. It tickled me and I tried not to laugh, despite my will. Then the barber shake the cape a bit, opened it, and said, "Done, son."
Only after I got up from the chair did he moved me to the side of the mirror and said: "Look how good you look." I was totally shocked. The white skin on my head contrasted with my tanned face. My ears looked like elephant ears.
But before reacting, I thought I didn't want to sadden that man and I said "Yes Sir, you did a great job." He smiled, rubbed my shorn head and said: "It's $ 15, and next time don't take that long before a cut." I handed him $ 20 and said, "You can keep the change. Thank you very much for the cut, Sir."
And I walked down the street touching my head nonstop ...