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A haircut just like Ryan's by Nick
As a kid I hated having my hair cut. You could probably call it a phobia. Every time my Mum and Dad mentioned it I would protest hysterically. In the end they gave up the struggle and my very light blond hair grew untamed. A natural curl made it look shorter than it was, but it still lapped well over my collar and fell a couple of inches below my ears.
Every Saturday morning Dad and I would walk to the local shops to pay for the newspapers we had delivered and maybe post a letter or two. The women who worked in the newsagent became familiar with our routine and always had a cheery hello and a few pleasant words for us. When I was old enough Dad would let me pay the bill whilst he browsed through the magazines. On this particular Saturday the shop was quiet as Dad handed me a five pound note and walked over to flick through the pages of a car magazine.
As I stood at the counter a man walked in and completely ignoring me asked for twenty cigarettes. The woman serving turned to the new customer and politely but firmly said
‘I’m sorry sir, but the young lady was before you’
I knew that Dad and I were the only other people in the shop, but I still turned around instinctively looking for the young lady. There was no young lady. Reality struck. The shop assistant who had seen me week after week for years thought I was a girl. I paid for the newspapers without saying a word then ran out of the shop crying.
Dad caught up with me.
‘Hey Nick, what’s the matter’
‘Nothing’ I managed to say through my sobbing.
‘Yes there is, what is it?’
‘The man tried to push in’ I said.
‘And did the lady serving let him?’ Dad asked.
‘So why the tears? What else happened’
‘Nothing!’ I replied stubbornly.
‘Something must have. I’m going back in to sort this out’
Dad went back into the shop and I could see him talking to the shop assistant. I could see that she looked embarrassed and was obviously apologising. She had clearly told Dad what she had said.
When Dad came back out he didn’t make any comment about his conversation. He just put his arm around me and whispered in my ear
‘Come on son, let’s go and post these letters’
The local parade of shops now included a barbers that had only been open a couple of weeks. As we walked past it Dad glanced in and sensing that the moment might be right turned to me said.
‘Nick, how do feel about getting a haircut?’
Instinctively I protested, although we both knew that there was nothing in the world I wanted more just then than a haircut. I was a boy, I didn’t want to look like a girl.
Dad persisted gently, knowing he was pushing at an open door.
‘Yes, come on, this new place looks really cool, I’m sure those young barbers could do you a great haircut.’
I didn’t respond and Dad knew my silence meant that I was agreeing to have a proper haircut for the first time in my life.
‘We better give your Mum a call, let her know we will be a little longer than she expected.’
This was before everyone had a cell phone, so we used the public phone in the post office. Dad simply told Mum we wouldn’t be back for a while, He didn’t tell her why.
I walked back to the barbers with Dad. There was an air of unreality about the whole thing. Here I was walking willingly into a barbershop to get my long locks tamed. Was this really happening?
As we walked in a voice broke my trance.
‘Hey Nick, how’s things?’
I recognised the voice straight away. It was Ryan, a lad about four years older than me who lived a few doors down from us. I idolised Ryan in the kind of way that boys often idolised those a few years older than them. Actually that’s not true. I had a massive crush on Ryan. I was eleven, too young to realise I was gay, too young to even know what gay meant. All I knew was that every time I saw him I felt tingle of excitement, every time he spoke to me I felt special.
Looking back I think Ryan knew precisely what was going on with me. I was the gay kid living a few houses down that had taken a shine to him, but was too young to understand his feelings. Being the kind and thoughtful young lad he was he didn’t push me away or call me a fag. Plenty would have done, but Ryan was happy to have me as a friend, his own little fan. And boy, was he was good looking! He had an athlete’s physique, nut brown eyes and flawless golden skin. His hair was terrific. Light brown in colour it always looked so clean and healthy. He was one of those people who had their hair cut in the latest style yet managed to look as though that was how they had always worn it. He could look cool without even trying.
Stepping into the unfamiliar world of the barber’s shop I looked round to where the voice had come from. And wow, what a shock. Ryan was just getting down out of the barber’s chair. His lovely hair that had always been so carefully styled had gone. He was now sporting an extremely short clipper-shave, a proper skinhead. He grinned broadly and rubbed his hand over his brutally shorn skull.
‘Wow, that feels great’ he said. ‘Hey Nick, what do you reckon to the new hair?’
With his perfectly shaped head almost bare he looked simply stunning.
I was completely tongue tied. I wanted to tell him just how gorgeous he looked, but knew I couldn’t.
Ryan filled the silence
‘I thought it was time to go short for a change’ and looking at his striking new image in the mirror added ‘and my, that’s certainly short.’
He paid the barber and walked over to the door turning from the entrance to say
‘Catch up with you later Nick. Looking forward to seeing your new haircut.’
Dad and I sat down on the waiting bench whilst the barber swept up Ryan’s severed locks that covered the floor around the chair where he had been sitting. When he had finished the barber turned to me and asked
‘So, are you ready for your haircut?’
‘Come on then, hop up into the chair’. It must have been obvious that I had not stepped foot inside a barbershop for a long time, if indeed ever, but the young barber who was about to tame my unruly mop made no comment. He wrapped a paper strip around my neck and carefully wrapped the dark blue cape around me. I looked up into the large mirror in front of me. It was a sight I hadn’t seen before. Me sitting in a barber’s chair, with my blond wavy tresses hanging down on the cape.
The barber picked up a comb and gently pulled it through my unkempt hair. His eyes met mine in the mirror. He could not have been much older than twenty and was really quite cute. I was glad he was the one that was cutting my hair.
‘Right, so how do you want it?’ he asked.
Dad started to reply for me and knowing how I felt about haircuts thoughtfully said
‘Not too much off, just tidy it up a bit’
My mind was working overtime now. If he doesn’t take much off I might still look like a girl.
‘No Dad’ I said, ‘I want it short’
Dad looked surprised.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes’ I replied firmly. ‘I’m sure. I want it really short, a proper skinhead just like Ryan’s
‘You seriously want the whole lot off? You’re absolutely sure’
‘Yes Dad, positive’
The barber smiled and said
‘I take it Ryan is the lad that just got the zero buzz’ I nodded. The barber picked up the large maroon clippers that still had same blade on them, flicked the switch and pushed my head gently forward. ‘Here we go then, it’s all coming off.’ He lifted a lock of hair at the back of my head just behind my right ear. I felt the clippers pressing against my skin, then moving slowly but purposefully up my head. A clump of blond hair fell onto my shoulder and forward down onto my lap as the clippers continues their way up and up divesting me of my hair.
The barber began to carve a second swathe through my blonde tresses just to the left of the first. I could feel the air against my scalp now as a mass of hair fell to the floor. I was looking forward into the mirror and couldn’t see any change yet, but I could see my Dad’s reflection as he stared aghast.
The barber continued to push the clippers up the back of my head. I still couldn’t see any change but the feel of the buzzing clippers against my skin was sensational. The barber finished the back of my head and moved to the right hand side, pushing the clipper under the mass of hair that hung down in front of my ear and reached down to my jaw. Slowly he pushed the blades up the side of my head. They moved effortlessly through the waves. A sheet of hair rained down the back of the blade glided over the barber’s hand and down onto my lap and for the first time I could see the result of their merciless passage up my scalp. A white swathe of skin appeared where the locks had been a second before. The clippers swept backwards over my right temple and suddenly my ear, hidden in hair for most of my life, was exposed to the light of day.
The same process was carried out on my left side so I was sitting there with the back and sides of my head all but shaved bare and the girly locks intact on top of my head. The barber turned the clippers off briefly and combed my remaining hair forward so it covered my face, reaching down to my lower lip. Then with a pair of scissors my luscious bangs were hacked off right to the top of my forehead. They fell forlornly onto my lap joining the huge pile of hair already resting there.
Then the clippers were turned back on and placed in the centre of my forehead. The barber hesitated briefly flashing me a smile via the mirror.
‘This is it then’ he said before moving the clippers back into the thick mass of my hair. A white channel of skin emerged in the centre of my head, then with a few more passes the rest of the hair was gone.
‘That’s it, all gone’ the barber grinned. I could see my Dad in the mirror looking utterly stunned.
A bit of tidying up, a brushing down and dusting and the cape was coming off.
‘Wow, he looks so different!’ Dad exclaimed.
‘Looks good though doesn’t he, a massive change and a real improvement’ the barber responded.
I got up out of the chair, my legs like jelly and walked right up to the mirror to get a close up look of my savage shearing. With my hair so fair I looked practically bald. My white forehead, ears and neck contrasted so much with my summer tanned face that anyone who saw me would be in no doubt that I had just been subjected to a of a severe scalping.
I caught site of the piles of hair on the floor. Hair that had been part of me for so long, but that was now severed forever from my head. Part of me wanted to cry, but the other part was thrilled at the startling transformation in my appearance.
Dad paid for the haircut, I thanked the barber several times and we made our way home. My head felt deliciously cool and light. I loved the sensation I got when I rubbed my head and the sound the ultra short bristles made as they brushed my fingers. I stopped at almost every shop window we went past to stare at my startling new reflection. The girly boy I was used to seeing was gone, in his place a tough looking kid with a really vicious haircut.
Mum cried when she saw me, shocked at the sight of her sweet little boy shaven headed and looking like a little thug. Ryan loved it ‘Hey, we’re skinhead brothers’ he had grinned when he saw me.
I’ve kept the zero buzz ever since. At first my Dad was surprised when I had asked if I could get my haircut again just three weeks after the initial shearing. A little while later and the cuts had become weekly. I started to make the visit to the newsagent on my own, and would then make my way down to the barbers so that Chris, the cute young barber, could ruthlessly strip away the week’s growth.
Ryan kept his hair shorn for about a year, but then as trends moved on he grew it out. He had a number of different styles over the next few years but his hair always looked great however it was cut. I still got a tingle of excitement whenever I saw him but I saw him less often as we grew older. Then he went away to university and never came back to live in the parental home, taking a well paid office job in London. He would send me postcards occasionally and pop in to say hi on his infrequent visits to his Mum and Dad.
I had met John by now. The way I felt when I was with him was completely different to the way I had felt when I was with Ryan. I never lusted after John the way I had Ryan but he made me feel warm, safe and secure. Love rather than infatuation I suppose. I knew within a few weeks of meeting him that he was the one, the guy I wanted to commit to. We rented a flat together, although I still spent the weekends at my parents’ house, and a year later went for a Civil Partnership, the UK’s equivalent of a gay marriage.
John suggested we both have a best man at the ceremony. His older brother had been very supportive when he had come out and he saw it as a fitting tribute to ask him to fulfil the role. My choice was more difficult. I was an only child and all my friends were John’s friends too. There was someone I could ask, someone that had meant so much to me in my formative years, Ryan. The more I thought about it the more I was sure that it had to be Ryan.
I got his number from his mother and called him about a month before the ceremony. He sounded genuinely pleased to hear from me and said he would be honoured to be my best man. We ended up chatting for ages. He was going away on holiday for a fortnight so would not be able to help out with the preparation, but was due back the day before the ceremony.
We spoke again just before his trip to Italy to firm up arrangements. He would drive up to his parents late Friday night. I would be staying at my parents as usual and he would come round first thing in the morning on Saturday for a couple of hours to help me get ready, then come back again at two to take me to the registry office.
When I heard him knock on the door at about nine on the morning of my wedding day I got the same tingle of excitement that I used to get whenever I saw him all those years ago. When I greeted him on the doorstep I could feel myself blushing like a little boy meeting his hero.
He looked even more handsome than he had in his teens. His hair had become darker over the years and was now a rich chestnut brown. It was styled in the current trend, covering all of his ears except the lobe and reaching halfway down his neck, flicking out slightly at the bottom. The front reached the top of his eyebrows, pushed to the left in an indistinct parting. As always it looked in great condition.
In truth there wasn’t much for him to do, so we chatted for a while then he left me to get ready and spend some time alone with my parents. This may have been the day of my Civil Ceremony but it was still a Saturday. The newsagent’s bill needed paying and I wasn’t going to pledge the rest of my life to John with a week’s growth of hair on my head. So just before eleven I left the house to tread the familiar path to the local shops. I had made this trip practically every Saturday for the past ten years and not a week had gone by when I didn’t reflect on the one trip I had made as an eleven year old that had become such a life changing event. Perhaps it was seeing Ryan, but on this Saturday, possibly the last time I would follow the familiar routine, the memories were even more vivid than usual.
I stopped off at the newsagent where the women assistants wished me all the best for the afternoon and handed me a carefully wrapped gift.
As I walked into the barbershop, my head was filled with thoughts of ceremonies, speeches and married life. A voice broke my trance.
‘Hey Nick, how’s things?’
I recognised the voice straight away. It was Ryan. I looked round to where the voice had come from and saw him just getting down out of the barber’s chair. The beautiful chestnut hair, that had looked so healthy and carefully styled, had gone. He grinned broadly and rubbed his hand over his brutally shorn head.
‘Wow, that feels great’ he said. ‘Hey Nick, what do you reckon to the new hair?’
I wanted to tell him he looked gorgeous but I just couldn’t bring myself to say it, because somehow he didn’t. I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps it was because the stubble was darker and more visible. It could have been that with his face deeply tanned from the holiday the white scalp looked just too stark. It might simply have been that his hair had looked so lovely when I had seen him earlier.
All I could say was ‘Why?’
‘When you opened the door earlier and I saw you still had your hair really short I remembered that time when we were kids and we both got our heads shorn on the same Saturday. When I first saw you buzzed that day I was so proud. I knew how you felt about haircuts and you had chosen to have the same haircut as me. Then today I thought, we are groom and best man, we should have the same haircut again and be skinhead brothers one more time.’
He looked across at Chris sweeping up the mass of silky dark locks and I thought I saw a hint of regret in his face.
‘It will soon grow again’ I said.
‘If I let it’ he grinned.
We had resolved to keep in contact and meet up regularly, so one Friday evening two months later John and I were sitting in a restaurant in London waiting for Ryan and his partner to arrive. All day I had been thinking about his hair. It grew pretty quickly so would be an inch long by now.
I didn’t notice him come in and he was standing right beside me before I saw him. There was no inch of hair. In fact there was no hair at all. His head was shaved completely smooth. He looked, in a word, beautiful. Without the dark stubble and with his scalp tanned his good looks had returned, and then some.
After a very pleasant evening John and I made our way home by train. I was dozing on his shoulder when he tapped me gently and said
‘That Ryan is a really handsome guy you know. He looked so hot tonight.’
‘Careful’ I replied ‘I’ll get jealous. Besides I saw him first!’
‘Yes, really sexy’ he continued. ‘I think it was the shaved head’
He rubbed my stubble playfully.
‘You know what Nick. Tomorrow when you see that barber of yours you should ask him to get his razor out and shave your head blade-smooth.’
I didn’t need much persuasion. I replied smiling ‘Okay, yes I will. I’ll ask him to give me a haircut just like Ryan’s.