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Ralph's Short Back And Sides Treatment. by Snipped Sam

Ralph the barber ran a tight ship, from the swinging sixties onwards he had seen a decline in younger customers coming to him and now in the mid-seventies his client base was mostly older gents. A few school boys also came and received Ralph’s short back and sides treatment. It was a chilly February afternoon when a new boy came through the door, Ralph could tell that he was unsure and also nervous. He greeted him with a warm hello and pointed to where he should sit to wait his turn. On the face of it he appeared to be a smart young man from a good home, probably about fifteen, the sort of customer worth cultivating.

David sat down on the wooden chair, he felt very apprehensive, and was not sure this had been a good idea. He had been curious about this barber since he had seen it when out on one of his bicycle rides, a few Sundays ago, with it now being half term, he had the time to come over to this part of town. The barber’s had a blended aroma of hair cream, dusting powder and hairspray, he noticed a sizable pile of hair on the floor by the barber’s chair where Ralph was working. David was reminded of the first barber he had been taken to, which had been similarly old fashioned. The man in front of him had taken his place on the barber’s chair fairly soon after David had come in and was having his head near enough shaved.

As Ralph buzzed down his balding customer, he could see that David was getting a bit agitated, clearly not comfortable about having his haircut, and the sound of the clippers probably wasn’t helping. The lad’s hair was a reasonable length, not long and not short, almost touching his collar but at least it was off his ears. Ralphs traditional short back and sides would really suit him and he would change that middle parting.

David decided that he should have gone to one of the gent’s hairdressers that he usually went to, he would just say that he was sorry, and that he had changed his mind about getting a haircut, he stood up from the chair. Ralph could see what was about to happen and was keen to divert David’s exit, and money hungry Ralph also wanted David’s haircut money in his till.

"I was about to suggest that you hung your coat up, but you beat me to it."

"I think I’ve changed my mind about having my haircut."

"Have I done something to upset you lad?"

"No" David replied shaking his head.

"Are you sure? Because I think that you came here because you knew you needed a haircut."

Ralph was being super nice.

"I did, it’s just that I’m not sure now."

"I think it not so much that you’re not sure that it needs cutting, you would just rather not have it cut, if only there was a way to stop hair growing so fast."

David knew what the barber was saying was right, and his dad had told him to get his haircut, and the barber did seem a really nice man. Ralph could tell that David was wavering, just a bit a reassurance was needed.

"I don’t think you’ve been here before lad, so it bound to be a bit daunting, but you’ll be fine."

David nodded, and took off his coat and hung it on the peg and then returned to his seat, Ralph busied himself with the man’s haircut, and on completion removed him from the chair. Having brushed his shoulders and handed him a tissue to wipe his neck and face, Ralph directed David to the chair. David followed his barbers request and went and sat in the chair. Normally he would have been called to the chair after the man had paid for his haircut, but Ralph was keen to get things more certain. As Ralph fitted the white nylon cape and tucked it in, David knew that he wouldn’t be able to back out now. All preparations had been made by the time the man had put his jacket on and was ready to pay for his haircut. On his returning from banking some more money in his till, Ralph had removed the comb from his top pocket and was ready to comb David’s dark brown hair. David sat there nervously as his barber combed his hair, and combed the front forward.

"Do you usually have a half term haircut?"

"I suppose I do."

David replied as Ralph reached over and selected his scissors, Ralph was going to use his softly softly tactics, let him see him making a few light snips, so he would relax.

"It shouldn’t take too long to get your tidied up."

With that he lifted up David’s hair on top and trimmed a quarter of an inch, and then repeated it a couple more times. David thought this won’t be too bad, as the barber started cutting the hair on the back of his head, Ralph moved his head slightly forward. Then whilst snipping away and chatting, every so often he moved it a little further down. He had dropped the chair right down when the previous customer had stepped off it and not raised it up when David had sat down. This meant his line of vision was now just below the oval mirror in front of the barber’s chair. Ralph was now able to cut David’s hair without alarming him, and soon much larger pieces were falling but he was careful to make sure no large pieces of hair fell onto the cape in front of him.
David thought the barber was a really nice chap, he chatted away to him, but in a way that did not require David to talk very much. He would have really liked to see how his haircut was progressing, but he knew that every barber had his own way of doing things. Ralph was a sizeable man, so when he stood in front of David and lifted his head up to cut his fringe, he could not see his reflection in the mirror. Just before this moment Ralph had extensively thinned David’s hair, warning bells had been ringing for a while that this was actually a very short haircut. He certainly was concerned how high the scissors had been placed, and as Ralph snipped along his fringe David was well aware what was happening. Ralph brushed his face with the soft brush then combed his hair to his preferred side parting, he then stepped away and David could see his hair.

"Oh no."

"Is it a bit shorter than you thought it was going to be?"

"Yes, you’ve cut it so short."

"I’m afraid it had got very wispy it needed a really good cut to strengthen it."

"That’s why you’ve made me have my head down all this time, so I couldn’t see what you were doing."

"It wasn’t a trick."

"I bet my dad told you to cut my hair like this."

"No lad after all I don’t know you, do I?"

David realised that his dad had no idea that he was coming there today and he was just being silly, he also knew that he shouldn’t speak to a barber like that he if he didn’t like the haircut.

"I know, its just I was pretty mad at seeing my hair this short."

"It will grow back really strong and in great condition after such a mighty haircut, you’ll see."

"I hope so."

"I just need to make a few finishing touches and you’ll be done."

"I thought you’d finished."

"No son, but as I said, just a few finishing touches."

Ralph took his fine-tooth comb from the small steriliser cabinet and then selected the black Bakelite clippers which hung from a hook to the right of where David was sitting. Ralph had decided that after his little outburst one young man had earned himself a clipping. An anxious David had seen the man take his comb and clippers, and in the mirror saw this man with his shiny bald head place his hand on his head once again. As he started to bend David’s head, he felt some resistance and heard the words.

"Please don’t take any more of my hair."

"Now, now young man, you know I’ve got to do my job."

He replied firmly but in a friendly tone, as he pushed the lad's head right down, he was soon had lifted David’s hair with the comb, switched on the clippers and began to run them over the comb, making Davids hair very short. Ralph had always thought this was the best way to finish a haircut, it was his speciality, his trademark. David was shocked that this man was giving him such a short haircut when he hadn’t asked him to, he had said he was going to tidy his hair up, and that would have been fine. As for few finishing touches, that was a joke, he thought hearing the clippers still purring away, as Ralph moved the comb higher up the back of his head.

Ralph now pleased with the level of shortness at the back, tilted David’s head to the right and did the same on the side of his head, then the other side to match. Having returned the clippers to their hook, there was a lot of loose hairs to be brushed away, which Ralph promptly dealt with.

"Now that wasn’t so bad was it, young sir?"


Was David’s reply, as Ralph selected his pot of Brylcreem, to dress his young customers hair, having applied a generous amount and combed it in, he carved the sharpest parting David had ever had. He proudly showed David the back of his head in the mirror, who could not believe the amount of bare skin which was now visible. On his walk home, he kept looking at his reflection in any window he came to and constantly feeling those short bristles.

David’s father was delighted with his son’s new haircut although his mother was less keen and he knew that David wasn’t at all convinced either. Later that evening he had a chat with his son.

"Look son, I know you think it’s very short but it’s the best haircut you have ever had, you did well to find such a good barber."

"I knew you would like it dad, but I really don’t."

"Well, I have a proposition for you, if you are willing to continue going to this barber, and keep your hair short, I will double your pocket money."

David was given the chance to think it over, and the doubled pocket money would start from David’s next haircut. It was the beginning of the second week of March when Ralph welcomed David back, still a bit apprehensive but ready and willing to have another short back and sides.

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