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My Italian Scissors Cut by Manny
My traveling buddies left a day before me, so I was alone on my last night in Milan. Evening had fallen, but it was still pleasantly warm for a stroll. I walked the streets, a bit hungry, but not wanting to dine alone. Grab a slab of pizza to go? Perhaps…
I rounded the corner and was confronted with a jarring splash of neon! It was a small, storefront barber shop in the old style -- a hand-painted sign that read "Salone" hung above the door.
I pawed momentarily at my hair — it was long and heavy. I flicked my forelock away from my eyes as I hustled past. My hair had not been cut in nearly a year.
As I moved quickly past the shop, I noticed several men inside. No one, however, was getting a haircut.
I picked up my pace. Still, I couldn’t shake the thought of climbing into one of the big chairs and letting a real Italian barber have a go at my shimmering chestnut mane.
As a boy, I’d had my hair cut at Salvatore’s, a family barber shop run by a trio of brothers. They were speed demons with the scissors — their weapon of choice — and merciless with the thinning shears! I wondered if the men I had seen inside the Salone would be of the same school.
I stopped at a corner joint and ordered a beer and piece of pizza. As I ate, I decided to google some Italian phrases that might be used at the Barbiere.
The first phrase in an article on the subject was an omen: "Solo una spuntatina!" or "Just a trim" -- a very convenient and safe approach.
But then my eye locked on: "Un taglio corto," or "a short haircut." And, then on, "Vorrei fare un taglio a spazzola." or "I’d like to have a crew cut."
No way!! I pawed at my locks protectively. I wondered if the barber’s shears would reduce my bulky mane down to something short, tidy and manageable as had always been my experience with my boyhood Italian barbers.
My eyes skimmed down to the end of the article. A final phrase fueled my imagination. It suggested. "If you're courageous (or curious), you can tell the barber "Fai tu!", giving him the liberty to do with your hair anything he thinks would suit."
I downed the rest of my beer and headed into the darkened street. The sidewalk was uneven, so I stepped down onto the slightly slick cobblestone. I retraced my steps back several blocks. The neon glow on the far corner made my heartbeat quicken. The barber shop beckoned me. I knew nothing would stop the cape from being fastened about my neck. I imagined the barber struggling to keep my long locks up while fastening the cape. In minutes, an Italian barber would begin shearing off my thick locks.
"Fai tu!" or "solo una spuntatina"? That debate lingered in my mind.
I strode quickly to the door. As I grasped the handle, I took stock of the inside. Three barbers, no clients. Two elderly men sat in the small waiting area. A younger fellow was fiddling with a TV on the counter. His dark hair was tapered very close at the nape and short up the back.
As I opened the door, the two older men quickly stood and the young man swirled around. His broad smile seemed to signal delight that finally he had a client. His dazzling white teeth caught my attention. He wasn’t exactly handsome, but he exuded warmth. I wanted to know him! I wanted to entrust my precious, pampered hair to him!
"Buona sera!!" he exclaimed, still eying me closely.
I returned the stare. His hair was longer on top; it swept toward his forehead and over to the side — such flair! In fact, it was much like the style the teen set sported across Italy.
The young barber indicated I should sit in the chair next to the plate glass window. He was very hands-on as he helped me adjust into the seat. He brushed my shoulder lightly and then fondled my locks briefly. I loved the tender feel of his touch.
It suddenly occurred to me that barber’s joy was not just in having a client, but in having one with lovely, thick long hair that was desperately in need of a thorough shearing! He had an eager look in his eye as he surveyed my abundant mane.
Once he established I was American, he caped me while fussing and fawning with friendly pleasantries. The shop was small, and his manner further seemed to dispense with the concept of personal space.
The barber’s cologne filled my senses as he leaned very close to adjust the fastener on the cape.
Both his hands gave me a quick shoulder massage. "Relax," he murmured in accented English. "I take good care. Relax!" His strong fingers briefly chased the tension away.
Then he took my hair with both his hands. "Wash?" he asked as he plied his fingers through my locks. It was as if he was promising me a very long, thorough, intimate scalp massage.
Out of my eye, I saw the list of prices — only 10 euros for a haircut. But nearly twice as much with a wash. My hair was clean, and I had no desire to bend over and lean my head into the sink on the counter.
I signaled with my hands simulating scissors. "Taglio! No wash."
He took a brush to my locks and worked through them repeatedly. My exquisite natural auburn highlights were absolutely dazzling in the harsh neon glow of the shop.
"Un bel taglio!" he finally announced.
With panache, he reached for the shears and comb on the counter. Then he leaned my head forward. I instinctively resisted, but his intention was firm. The barber prevailed and I sat submissively with my head bowed looking at the clean white cape.
My mind raced! How to say trim?! I heard him prime the shears with a few warm-up snips in the air. Then, with the comb, he lifted a section of my flowing mane up from off the shoulders. I could feel the plastic comb very near my nape.
OMG — at least six inches were probably dangling and on the chopping block. I squirmed slightly.
The EXCRUCIATING sound of scissors cutting violently through thick, dry hair rang out. In an instant, I heard the metal blades clamp together and then open for a second chop. Again, the crunching sound left me in no doubt my hair was being cut as short in back as the barber’s.
I could feel long lengths of hair falling away as the barber went into overdrive. Lift and chop. Then, higher….lift and chop. Then, even higher….lift and chop! Then, repeat the sequence! The back was being radically reduced in length.
My mouth felt dry. What had I gotten into? My stomach churned. Just relax, I told myself. Relax like the barber had urged. Relax and enjoy this once-in-a-life experience…
I imagined my long hair beginning to accumulate at the barber’s feet. I was kept with my head bowed low, staring at the clean, white cape. There was definitely no more hair covering the neck. I could feel a breeze waft across the newly exposed skin between the cape and the nape.
The barber stopped cutting to watch a replay of the final goal by penalty kicks which ended the soccer game that was on TV.
I took the opportunity to lift my head and steal a quick glance at the floor. OMG! It was covered with long chunks of my cut hair!! The chestnut-colored locks with fiery auburn highlights looked so beautiful strewn about the barber’s feet.
The two old men stood to leave. They were not barbers, after all — just at the shop watching the game.
"Arrivedeci," they called out as they left.
After the old men left, it was just the two of us in the shop. I felt an enhanced intimacy with the young barber who returned his attention to cutting my hair. I was made to look down again into my lap. His tender fingers were guiding and forceful. The scissors resumed clattering at an alarming speed — from nape to crown, from very close to rather close. He cut and cut and cut. I was sure very little hair was left to grace the back of my head.
Finally, the barber’s focus changed slightly. He allowed me to sit up straight and watch as he combed my long hair over my ear a few times. There was a bit of a disapproving cluck. In a flash, the comb scooped up a good amount and the shears came in quickly for the kill.
CHOP!! My ear was partly unveiled.
LIFT AND CHOP! Most of the ear came into sight. I glanced down at the cape. The two whacks had put an end to the snowy white.
A third CHOP revealed my ear in its totality. I smiled, a bit. In a way, having my hair cut short was making me feel good, very good. Excited even. I shifted under the cape a bit. I would leave Italy with a very shorn look.
The barber smiled broadly as he began manipulating the scissors up the side of my head. His snipping went into overdrive. My hair was being tapered very short!!
"What is your name?" I asked the barber as his shears clacked rhythmically up the side of my head.
His huge mouth of teeth smiled broadly. "Andrea!" he announced. "Andrea, you barber now! I give you good haircut! Un taglio corto!" He put on a bit of a show with elaborate snipping around the ear.
He pointed to the shorn side and smiled broadly. Then he pointed to the uncut side and frowned. He grasped the hair on the uncut side and said, "Donna!" Then he traced his finger up the tapered side and blurted out, "Uomo!"
I blushed at the idea of him transforming my girlish long hair into something short and manly.
Suddenly, more words from the article rushed back into mind, "Piu corto! Molto corto!!" I urged him, giving him the green light to reduce the length to something even shorter.
He quickly combed my forelock down. It dangled to my chin!
The first snips were at brow length.
SNIP, SNIP, SNIP!!!!
The veil fell. I blinked and smiled widely. No more hair over my eyes.
Again, I was inspired to urge the barber to go even shorter. "Fai tu, con i miei capelli!" He could cut my hair as short as he liked!
Andrea came in for a second go. I watched in horrified excitement as he snipped the fringe again, to mid-forehead length. Snip, snip, snip. "La frangia cortissima!" he gloated.
The only significant length left was over the "Donna" ear.
Andrea was quick and capably skilled to reduce it to the exact length as the short taper on the other side. I smiled broadly as I watched the remnant of long hair end up on the cape.
Next, Andrea seized a duster. He doused it with a splash of talcum. Then he was all over my face and ears, sending the snippets of cut hair flying in all directions!
After that, the barber took a spritzer and lightly doused my hair. I had a flashback to my days at Salvatore’s Barber Shop. I knew what he was gearing up to do. Andrea was about to unleash the thinning shears.
Like I thought, he seized the shears with the clunky, threatening serrated teeth. He began thinning the sides. The sound was so different from the regular shears slicing off long dry locks. It was sort of a grating sound. But the rapid movements of his hand and fingers were identical. From the bottom up he snipped and snipped and snipped. Then he combed out the cut hair. Again and again he thinned the sides. The bulk was being reduced significantly. My short hair hugged the sides of my head, making my ears look a bit like winged projectiles.
I shifted uneasily in the chair. Part of me wanted to ask him to stop thinning my hair. The other part very content that I was getting scalped. Not knowing what to say in Italian helped decide — I sat quiet and submissive.
Andrea thinned away to his heart’s content as I grimaced.
The barber sensed my discomfort. "Relax, my caro friend. I cut your hair very short, very good!"
I smiled weakly. "You are doing a very good job," I acknowledged.
Then he whispered in my ear, "You are looking more handsome than prince. Il Principe de Milan!" The sweet compliment may in fact have ended in a subtle peck on the ear.
I shivered. I wanted to bed Andrea!
"Fai tu!" I whispered back. "Do it to me! Cut my hair even shorter!"
"Vorrei fare un taglio a spazzola," he said with his eyes sparkling. He grasped the long hair on top of my head, "Como militare! Cortissimo!!"
"Prego," I groaned with delight. "You can do whatever you want — bald, even!" Hearing myself say that made me surge with feelings of delight.
Andrea swapped the thinning shears again for regular shears. He smiled me and winked. He combed up the remaining bangs with a mass of thatch from the top. He opened the shears broadly, and paused momentarily. He was poised and itching to begin the final assault on the remaining length.
"Sicuro? Taglio a spazzola?" he asked.
I gulped. Things had spiraled out of hand so quickly.
I hesitated to answer because I was far from sure.
Then he did it! WHACK! He started taking down the top. Showers of cut hair came off in every direction. He plowed the comb deeper into the thatch and whacked away some more. WHACK! WHACK!! His hands were more determined than an unstoppable machine. I was getting a very short brush cut! All my hair was cut to no length greater than 3/4 inch.
Andrea must have spent the next 15 minutes snipping everything on top down to a perfectly short and uniform length. Hair by hair. Snip by snip. Very short, very boyish looking. Finally, the cutting stopped.
He took a brush to the dense pelt and removed all stray snippets. Then, he caressed my clipped pelt with his fingers. They lingered sensuously. I stared at the young barber in the mirror. He was not very handsome; but he was charming. His smile was charismatically engaging, his lips full and enticing.
Then I noticed for the first time that he had a receding hairline. That elaborate swoop of hair brushed foreword was in fact carefully arranged to conceal a pre-mature balding pattern — and sprayed into place! Poor Andrea! It was a nice disguise, but with close inspection, the truth was evident — he definitely was fighting an advanced case of MPB.
"I wash your hair now!" Andrea announced.
I was ready to yield to any desire he had.
He swiveled the chair around and then reclined it almost flat. He gently eased my neck into the notched sink. He hovered over me, fawning about my new short haircut. "Sei molto bello. Bellissimo!" he cooed as he toyed with my tidy pelt. From 6-8 inches, down to just a half. He had cut almost everything off!
Andrea wet my brush cut with warm water and worked in a dollop of shampoo. His strong fingers massaged my scalp vigorously. For over five minutes he lathered my hair.
I groaned with delight.
"Does Mister like?" he asked inches from my face.
I almost exploded under the cape, heaving as I imagined his lips kissing mine.
"You are very handsome, Andrea," I murmured. "Would you come back to my hotel with me? It’s just a block from here."
I had no idea if he understood any of what I said. His expression was elusive.
He proceeded to rinse the suds from my hair. He was deliberate and attentive to me. As I remained reclined, I imagined us in bed.
He sat me up and took a towel to my damp pelt.
"Andrea will be your barbiere, amore mio," he said. He took his time with the towel.
I imagined us together in the shower…. I would rinse the spray out of his forelock and force him to confront, and possibly embrace, his MPB!
As he swiveled the chair back to face the mirror I looked at all my hair on the floor. The floor of the small shop was almost half covered with my hair.
Andrea reached for some shaving cream and traced it around my ears and covered some of my neck. His fingers played on my sensitive skin, and I shuddered with delight.
He carefully unwrapped a new razor and slid it into the straight edge.
I watched him begin to carefully carve a small arch around the ear he’d tenderly folded down. Extremely small and deliberate strokes with the razor were repeated again and again. First he left me with a tidy look, but then he decided to expand the arch and carve a more exaggerated frame for my ear. He smiled broadly as he survey the first imposing arch. Then he copied it on the other side.
In back, I sensed him shaving away at the hairline, then above it….and then considerably above it! He was shaving off all hair below an imaginary line that stretched from earlobe to earlobe. My stomach churned.
"Andrea?" I asked with a quaver to my voice.
"Prego! Finito!!" he exclaimed.
After wiping off the foam remnants with a moist towel, he took a blow dryer to my pelt and blasted it with warm air while repeatedly fondling my short strands.
As he handled the blow dryer, I closed my eyes and imagined him giving me a blow job!
"You like?" he asked, showing off his handy work with a mirror.
My neck was like alabaster and my hair extreme short behind.
But the haircut was not over!
"Prego," he said, again taking the shears to my wispy short fringe and snipping the remnants off just beneath the hairline.
Finally, the haircut was over. I had a crewcut! The cape was finally unfastened and carefully withdrawn. Another load of cut hair fell to the floor.
Andrea leaned over and whispered in my ear (even though we were alone in the shop), "Yes, you will take Andrea to your hotel now. It is time for you to "Fai tu" with me. I will go change."
I stood and looked down at the floor. All my hair! Shorn off!! I missed it already, but the thought of having my way with the sensuous Andrea made the sacrifice worth it.
I took a set of clippers and put them in my coat pocket. Next person playing barber would be me!
Then I grabbed a broom and started sweeping up my cut locks. So much to sweep up and discard! I had a brimming panful in my hand when Andrea came back in without his barber jacket on.
I held it up toward him. It looked so beautiful! "My hair…" I said.
Andrea pointed to the trash can. "Capelli corto….much better!" He reached up and playfully stroked my clipped pelt. I leaned in and kissed him on the lips.
He came toward me closely and affectionately. "Amore mio," he murmured as he kissed me back with equal passion. "All’hotel…"