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My balding pate by Teddy Boy

This is the place I thought, reading the sign, D. J. STAPLETON, SPECIALIST IN ANTIQUE WRITING EQUIPMENT, I climbed the stairs to reach the top of the landing. There were two doorways, and K.J. Stapleton’s was closed. Outside his premises was a wall mounted glass case displaying antique fountain pens. I wished I had called first, it seemed like a wasted journey now, I looked over and in the other door an older woman with white hair was looking at me.

"He’s gone to the bank, but shouldn’t be too long."

"Thanks, I think I will wait then"

When I entered the first door downstairs, I think I had also seen a sign for hairdressers, this must be her I thought, and her overall confirmed it.

"You’re welcome to come in and wait here, you’ll have to keep your mask on mind, my 2.30 has had to cancel."

She gestured for me to go into hers before fixing her mask and I thought at least I might get to sit down, on entering her salon smelt strongly of products connected to hairdressing. I explained to her that I was selling a couple of antique fountain pens which had belonged to my late uncle.

"I expect a young man like yourself wouldn’t have a lot of use for a fountain pen."

"Not really, If I write something it’s in an email and if I am honest, I need the money, I am not working at the moment."

"How modern, I bet you’ve never been in a hairdressers like this either?"

"I have, but for a long time, when I was a boy, I always went to one, she was an older lady, sorry I mean."

"I know what you mean, she wasn’t straight from training school."

"That’s right mam."

"Is it a good memory?"

"She was strict and I had to have my hair cut really short but it’s a good memory."

"I find from experience it’s always best to be strict with boys when it comes to them having their hair cut."

The telephone began to ring and she answered it and made an appointment with someone for the following week.

"Where were we?"

"You were saying it is best to be strict with boys when it comes to haircuts."

"So I was, saying that probably all males."

"I guess so."

I could hear footsteps coming up the stairs, and she said that sounded like Derek and called out to him, he then stood at the doorway came into her place.

"This young man has two fountain pens he hopes you will be interested in."

"May I see?"

I walked to the doorway and handed him the small box with the pens.

"They look interesting, I would need to take a close look at them both, and I have to make a pressing phone call to my accountant so if you could give me about ten maybe fifteen minutes."

"That’s fine, oh sorry"

I said as I took out my mobile phone to check a message.

"That will work out well Derek, because he’s about to have his haircut"

"That’s great just pop across then, I’ll take a look at the pens in the meantime"

The man left us and the hairdresser opened a drawer and took out a hairdressing cape.

"You need to put that away now"

She said clearly referring to my mobile, so I placed it back in my pocket.

"How did you know I was thinking about getting a haircut"

"I didn’t, but it’s a little untidy at the back and if you get an interview you need to be looking smart, won’t you?"

"Yes mam."

"Take a seat."

She pointed to which chair I should sit on and I sat down, first she folded tissue over the collar of my tee shirt at the back and the blue cape was fitted, I was pleased that she wasn’t using one of the pink ones I had noticed. I was wearing quite short shorts and the fabric of the cape felt great as it tickled my knees. Taking stock of what was on the counter in front of me I saw various scissors and combs, I also saw that she had clippers with guards, but I was more than a bit apprehensive. A twenty-seven-year-old gay man enjoying the prospect of having my haircut by this stern matriarch. I suppose that may be a bit strong of a description, but by telling me to put my phone away and the way she told me to take a seat, she was in charge.

"What do you usually do for a living?"

"I worked in retail, but the store I worked in has gone into receivership as a result of covid19."

"That’s a shame, must be hard with shop work at the moment"

"It is"

"How do you usually have your haircut?"

"Number four sides and back usually and trimmed on top, usually blocked at the back quite low"

"I suppose by blocked you mean squared"

"Yes mam, I mean squared"

"I think you’ve got it too low at the back"

"I guess it is lower than it needs to be"

"So, you won’t mind me taking it up"

"I guess not"

"And tapered not blocked"

"Tapered is good"

"Number two sides and back"

"I always have number four"

My phone started to ring.

"Sorry I forgot to put it on silent."

"You better answer it then."

I could see it was my friend Luke calling and that she was less than impressed, by the raising of her eyebrows.

"Hi Luke, yeh I found the place and the guy is going to have a look at them."

As I was talking to Luke, she was carefully looking at the guards and snapped one on to the clippers, she turned around and had an impatient look on her face.

"Luke, I’ve got to go now but I’ll call you back later, no I’m getting a haircut, speak to you later."

I ended the call and put it on silent

"Sorry about that but it’s on silent now."

"I am pleased to hear it, now you’re quite sure it won’t ring again?"


"Good, don’t get me wrong, mobiles are great at the right time."

"I understand, but not during haircuts"

"Thats right, and now I’m just going to pop your head down."

Placing her hand on my head she bent it down as far as it could go, the clippers began to gently purr and then the sound of them ploughing through the hair on the back of my head. I was used to hot looking guys with sharp looking beards cutting my hair so why was I really enjoying this? I remembered just before Luke called, we were talking about which guard and we hadn’t finalised the number. Too late now I thought as my gut feeling told me she was using a number two. Having taken care of the hair on the back of my head she turned to the sides of my head. She removed the elastic bit which went over my ear to keep my mask in place and holding my mask she clipped the side of my head. She remarked that she was quite getting the hang of her customers wearing masks. Having completed stage one of my haircut, the guard was removed and she did some further work on the back of my head before the clippers went back and she picked up a razor.

"I’m just going to clean up the back then we need to have a bit of a chat."

She set to work shaving where my hair had previously grown so low down below the neckline.

"That looks a lot better, never let anyone try to tell you that it suited you like that, what was it you called it? Blocked?"

"Yes, blocked"

Taking a towel she wiped the back of my head, then moved my head up, folding the towel and placing it close by and turning my head to look in the mirror I could see a definite number two blade cut.

"Now young man, it’s not that noticeable at first glance, but you have the start of what we call a balding pate"

She patted the top of my head and said "Just here."

"Oh s**t, oh sorry mam I shouldn’t swear in front of you"

"I’ve heard worse young man, now back to your balding pate, you can keep your hair as it is but it won’t be very long before it becomes really visible. If we cut it short now it will not be as noticeable further down the line, that will mean keeping it short though"

"When you say cut it short, what are you thinking"

"A smallish fraction of an inch, I won’t buzz it today, I think that’s the term, but my advice to you is to enjoy the scissor cuts while you can."

"O.K if that’s what’s got to be done"

Taking a pair of scissors and a comb she began to cut off all the hair on the top of my head making it really short, my golden hair was nearly all gone.

"It’s a shame I need to do this but it’s for the best, I can see in less than a few years it will be a number two all over"

"Oh well I guess, but I’m only twenty-seven"

"The opposite way around to me as I am seventy-two"

"You don’t look it mam"

"You charmer you"

She ran her hand over the top of my head, moving it from side to side

"Yes, that will do nicely"

She fetched a mirror held it for me to see that back, she had taken it up, it did look really short but I did really like what she had done.

"Looks cool, thanks"

"You’re happy with it?"

"Very happy"

She wouldn’t take any money for the haircut and said that she hoped I’d get work soon, Derek Stapleton bought the pens from me, less than I had hoped for but still a decent amount. I hope next time I go she might let me keep my phone out to take a selfie, after my haircut but still in the chair.

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