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You said I could have a trim !! by Snipped Sam
In spite that my usual gents hairdressers was closed due to Neil being ill with flu, my father was insistent that I should get my haircut before my return to school on the Monday. When I said that I didn’t want to go to the two other barbershops which I had previously been to, he said that what I wanted did not come into the equation.
"You have a choice Simon, you either go to a barbers which is open, or I will take you on Saturday morning for a haircut."
"But he should be back open next week, a few days won’t hurt."
"I allowed you to postpone your haircut at the end of January because of half term being near. But there can be no further delay,"
I wasn’t happy about this, but I knew that if dad took me for my haircut, he would have it cut very short. My plan was to slowly get my hair a little longer than I was currently allowed, Neil had suggested that we take it slowly. The next day I decided to go to the library to check the Kelly’s Street Directory, just in case there were any other barbers that I didn’t know about in the town where I lived. Having found the listing of Gentleman’s Hairdressers there was one I did not know off, called A. Simpson and it was just out of the town.
I knew roughly where it was and headed straight there, the shop looked old fashioned from the outside, but my only other choices were William’s Barbershop, who was a miserable grumpy man who was not skilled at cutting hair. Failing that it was Dennis Jones who was ex-army and a butchering was guaranteed. I pushed open the door and went in and was greeted by a kind looking white haired man, who seemed very friendly. I was a bit unsure especially as his two customers were both older gentlemen, and so I said to him that I would just like a trim. He smiled and pointed to the seats in the waiting area and said that "I would be after Mr Smith."
So, I had sat and waited whilst he cut the hair of the two older gentlemen, one of which was already in the chair when I came in. In a way it had reminded me a bit of an old folks club with the first man had remaining after his haircut, to carry on chatting with the barber and the other man. The second man eventually came off the chair and paid for his haircut, and then Mr Simpson turned his attention to me. I had already taken off my coat and hung it on the coat stand.
"Ready for your haircut?"
"I think so."
"This way son."
I stood up and followed him to the barber’s chair, I noticed that the second man had sat down and the two of them were chatting away, when we reached the barber’s chair Mr Simpson paused then said.
"Just a second, I’ll get the booster pad."
He then fetched a three-inch-thick leather pad and placed it on the seat of the barber’s chair and he then told me to sit down. I wasn’t that happy at fourteen having to sit on a booster pad, but he was very matter of fact about it. I realised that I didn’t have a choice and to protest about it would only draw attention to myself. Once I had sat down, the white nylon cape was swiftly fitted and a tissue tucked in at the back. He then started combing my hair before asking me what I’d like done.
"Just tidied up please, just above the collar at the back, and if you can leave the sides, please."
He combed my sideburns and remarked.
"So, you like these the way they are?"
"Yes, it’s taken me a while to get them to this length."
He joked to the two gentlemen that boys these days have such specific ideas about their hair. One of them said that they should never have got rid of National Service, Mr Simpson now had hold of some long and very pointed steel scissors.
"I’m just going to pop your head down."
With that he pushed my head right down so my chin was almost touching my chest.
"Just concentrate on keeping your head down for me, and I’ll take care of everything else."
I could not now see my reflection in the mirror, and soon Mr Simpson was busily snipping away with his scissors at high speed. Every so often he pushed my head back down, whilst the conversation between the two men and the barber was about the impending February 1974 General Election. I was astonished at quickly his scissors worked. With my hair slightly longer than it usually was, I was keen to avoid a short back and sides, but the closeness of the scissors to my head was setting off alarm bells. I really wanted to catch a glimpse of what was happening in the mirror, but Mr Simpson kept my head bent forward. When my head was finally lifted to cut the front, he was standing directly in front of me obstructing my view in the mirror. As he combed my hair
at the front, he gave me a wink and a kindly smile, he reminded me of my best friend’s grandpa.
"Shut your eyes for me son."
Following this instruction, I felt the scissors being lined up to cut my fringe, the snips were determined and I felt my hair tumble down my face. As the soft brush made its side-to-side movement above my eyebrows, I was aware that quite a bit of my hair had been taken. I felt the flat of his spare hand hold my head firmly, and then realised that his scissors were poised at my right sideburn.
"Please don’t cut the sides."
"They must be tidied Son."
"But I did say that I wanted to keep them as they are."
"I know you did Son, but they need a little tidying."
Then there was a profound snip, and then he moved his scissors to the other sideburn and another big snip.
"Trust me Son, that looks better."
He advised me as the soft brush cleared away any remains of hairs on my face. Mr Simpson then moved away from where he was standing and I could finally see what he had done.
"Oh no, you’ve cut my hair so short."
"I expect that it is a little shorter than you were expecting, but it looks so much neater."
"You said I could have a trim."
"I think if you remember, you said you wanted a trim and I said to take a seat."
"That’s really unfair."
"Trust me Son, your hair looks so much better."
"But I never wanted it this short."
"Believe me young man Mr Simpson has done a good job on your hair."
I didn’t know how to answer the man, I did want to tell him that it had nothing to do with him, but I knew I couldn’t be so disrespectful.
"I’m not saying he hasn’t Sir."
"I’m pleased to hear it."
The man replied, whilst Mr Simpson was adjusting the cape at the back.
"Anyway Son, I’m afraid that we not quite finished with the haircut."
I had forgotten that there still would need to be a bit of tidying and shaping with the clippers and sometimes a razor, this was usual. Despite the shortness of his haircuts, Mr Simpson was a nice man especially compared to the two barbers who would have cut my hair. If William the barber had cut my hair, it would probably been hacked and lopsided and if Dennis Jones had cut it, I would be scalped anyway. I just nodded to Mr Simpson about my haircut not having finished.
"And now just a little tickle."
He jovially announced as he selected his clippers, as he walked behind me, he placed his hand firmly on my head.
"Once I have bent your head down, you must stay very still for me son, and no worrying about what I’m up to."
"I’ll do my best to keep my head still for you, but I think that I’m already worried."
"Well, I think if you are already worried son, you know what I’m going to do."
"I can guess, but you don’t need to do this Sir."
I replied hoping that he would change his mind, but instead he pushed my head down and I heard one of the men chuckle. The clippers came to life as the power surged through them and the cogs turned, they touched the back of my head.
"Stay completely still son, this will soon be over with."
Mr Simpson then began to clip the back of my head.
"Just think son, all over the country there are lots of boys just like you sitting in their barber’s chair also having this done."
On hearing this, I thought perhaps if it was the 1950’s there would have been many fourteen-year-olds being clipped, but I knew in 1974 there wouldn’t be lots of boys, and it certainly didn’t make me feel any better. As far as I was concerned, I was the only boy it was happening to. But the barber meant well, it was just he was so set in his ways, and he had probably always given this haircut to lads my age. The trouble was this haircut would put my plans to get my hair longer right back, Neil had stopped clipping my hair short about two years before. It seemed that Mr Simpson was taking his clippers up high, I feared that dad would see this as an opportunity to keep my hair shorter. Perhaps he might even insist that I went to Mr Simpson for all my haircuts.
After blitzing the back of my head, Mr Simpson tilted my head to the side and then first clipped the right side of my head and then the left. I suspected that there wouldn’t be much if any sideburn left, when he finally lifted my head, I could see that they had gone completely. Mr Simpson saw me looking in the mirror and as he brushed the loose hairs away, he remarked.
"I’m afraid your sides didn’t survive son."
"So, I see."
Just to make sure he used his flat razor to shave where they had once been and then on my neck, before generously powdering the back of my head.
"Do you usually have anything on your hair?"
"How about some Brylcreem to finish off your haircut."
"It’s a bit greasy."
"Brylcreem will really finish it son."
Mr Simpson already had hold of the pot, and had taken the top off, soon after a large dollop landed on the top of my head and was then massaged into my hair by Mr Simpson. Taking a comb from the side he exactingly combed my chestnut brown hair into place with a severe side parting. Having rinsed his hands, he picked up the mirror and held it so I could see the back of my head, it was every bit as short as I had dreaded. But saying I had to admit that it did look very smart, the clipping had been expertly done.
"Much better than the trim you wanted."
Remarked the man who had been in the chair when I came in. I politely thanked Mr Simpson for my haircut. Having been released from the chair, I paid him and quickly left, walking down the road with the hood of my Parka up, as I didn’t want anyone to see my haircut. That evening when he came home from work dad was very pleased with my haircut. He wanted to know where I had it cut and all about Mr Simpson and his shop.
"Looks like you have found yourself just the barber Simon, so from now on, I want your hair looking like this every time you go for a haircut."
"But dad, I don’t want to go back there."
"I don’t suppose you do, but you will go there and you will have your haircut exactly like it has been done today."
"That’s so unfair."
"And in future there will be no pushing back getting your haircut, you will go every four weeks without fail."
Dad’s view was that I may not like it but I would get used to Mr Simpson as my barber. I guess in the end I did get used to leaving his shop with the back of my head all bristly, and the familiar sweet smell of Brylcreem after he had plastered my hair with it.