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Colin Cans his Pomp by Manny
"Got any plans for the holiday weekend?" my stylist asked as he stretched my damp forelock to its full five-inch height and carefully snipped off the tips.
I listened to the pitter-patter of snipettes hitting the dark nylon cape before telling him about my plans to spend the weekend fishing with my college buddy at his lakeside cabin. As my long-time stylist sectioned off another lock to trim, I commented, "The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the heat! With the temps they're predicting and the humidity, even the very early morning fishing excursions are going to be fairly unbearable."
As the stylist sent another collection of snippets to the cape, I worked up my resolve to again address an issue I'd raised with him before several times. "With that in mind, Ty, I'd like you to cut my hair shorter -- at least an inch off the top. And, really, I think I'm ready for a much shorter cut in back too! In fact, I've been considering about a traditional 'short back and sides' taper."
"I think not!" was his predictable response. "When you're old, gray and thinning, you can have your hair cut as short as you like. But, great hair like yours needs to be appreciated and show-cased! Your stylized, executive cut suits you perfectly, especially the way this wavy forelock looks swept back. The pomp is so distinguished, so elegant! No, no! I won't hear of it. You're welcome to find another stylist, but I take pride in my work and don't want this dreamy mane of yours butchered. If you want a 'short back and sides' I suggest you find a barber!"
I had heard his sermonette before -- in fact, I heard it every time I suggested he cut my hair shorter. And the reason I kept coming back to Ty was that in a way he was right. I did have great hair -- so silken, soft and shiny. The gentle waves added a lot of body, and the way Ty left it long and full in the back gave me a very "coiffed" appearance. The trimmed back that lapped gently over the collar in back portrayed the very expensive salon look that was captured in the various glamor shots which adorned the wall of the pricey establishment I'd used for years.
I walked out of the salon, resembling a Fortune 500 executive with my power hairstyle gromed to a tee. I knew it would look vastly different once I was out on that lake, bathed in sweat and humidity.
Vince and I talked about the weather as we headed out for our holiday retreat. "At least it's not going to rain.....but with the humidity pushing 100%, we'd probably be better with rain," he commented.
As we were unpacking our things at the cabin, Vince called out to me from his room, "Hey, before heading out to the lake, could you do me a favor?"
"Sure," I said, heading to his room. As I entered, I saw Vince holding a set of electric hair clippers. "Would you mind giving me a buzz? My roomate was going to give me a quick one last night, but then he got stuck late at his job and time slipped away on us. You don't need any skill...."
Vince had sported a butch as long as I'd known him. Even back in college, when long, feathered hair on guys was the norm, I remembered him extolling the praises of the butch -- especially from a financial point of view. People always assumed he was in ROTC.
"Sure," I replied, "but only if you don't return the favor!"
"Shoot!" he exclaimed, "Wouldn't even try to offer. I know how fond you are of your girlyboy locks!"
I blushed, a bit, as he stripped off his shirt. Vince pulled over a chair and took a seat. "It's all set to go. Just snap it on and buzz me down...."
I ran my hand over Vince's furry pate -- his head felt like a plush teddy bear. "I don't think I've ever seen you looking this shaggy, Vince! Your hair is at least a half inch long! You usually keep this clipped a lot shorter."
"Well, you're going to take care of that! And because of the heat, I've put on a shorter guard then normal. You're going to leave me with a 5 o-clock shadow! Like an induction cut!"
I snapped on the clippers and enjoyed the feel of the vibration; I nudged his head forward and put the clippers to his nape. I briefly imagined myself on the receiving end of the clippers. Oh, wouldn't that be great to have a real barber -- a heavy-handed one -- clip off my stylized mane and give me a real barbered look?! A nice, tight taper -- and the top cropped down short!
As I drove the clippers up the back of Vince's head, I exclaimed, "Holy s**t! Do you realize how short this is going to be?!" A shorn swath left little more than stubble in the midst of the plush pelt.
"A sixteenth of an inch! Who wants a furry head out there in the heat of summer? Stubble feels great in the dead of summer!" Vince responded. "Sure you don't want me to buzz you too? It'll only take a minute or two to put an end to your prissy business cut."
"Ha! I just plopped down $60 yesterday for my monthly trim. Plus tip," I replied.
"I guess when you're a high powered executive, those are the sacrifices you need to make," Vince replied, dropping the subject.
The rest of his buzzcut was delivered in silence. I was pretty pleased with the very nice tight butch I gave him. The stubble head looked manly and bold! No doubt it would leave Vince a LOT cooler fishing on the lake than my dense mane.
Throughout the weekend, I suffered under my thick padding of humid hair that got all snarled in the wind and under the fishing cap. The sweltering hours out on the lake really got me thinking that it was time to cut free from Ty and ditch the salon look. While I wasn't ready for any type of amateur butch cut, a la Vince, I felt ready to turn my hair over to a clipper-wielding barber! After all, that's what Ty had suggested -- 'if you want a short-back-and-sides, find a barber.'!
Just the thought of going to a barbershop instead of a salon excited me. And, if I was going to make the transition, I wanted a clean break. A total transformation. A traditional shop. A no-nonsense, heavy-handed barber who would take pleasure in plunging the clippers into my overgrowth.
Back home, I started an aggressive internet search to find just the man to put an end to my wavy coif. The reviews were all very helpful in narrowing down my options. The more I read the reviews from barbershop patrons, the more determined I was to become one myself. Finally, I focused in on a downtown shop that got mixed reviews. The frightening thing was that the one barber who dragged the high ratings down appealed most to me. Here were some of the things about him:
- "All the barbers are great, except Scott, the young guy with the flattop who scalped me this morning. Maybe I wasn't clear enough, but most barbers understand what 'just a trim' or 'the usual' means."
- "I always ask for Scott. He rocks!"
- "Scott delivers a great haircut. But, be advised -- he generally gives you shorter than requested."
- "Avoid the barber with a flattop. He's a demon with the clippers."
- "I always ask for Scott. He understands what appeals to a former marine like me! His flattop is fantastic too."
- "If you don't want a barber who chatters incessantly, go with the young barber who generally works the middle chair. He's serious and totally professional. No one cuts a better tight ivy. Love the way he finishes it off with warm lather and a straight edge razor."
The last post got me curious. What was a tight ivy, I wondered? I googled several images and the cut looked ultra severe! Clipped short all over except for a bit of length on top -- like what a teen in the 1950's would sport. It appealed to me! A tight ivy would be a radical change. But, I wasn't sure that I could go all the way in one sitting. Maybe it was something I could work towards, going shorter gradually. The first thing I wanted to put an end to was the forelock. Have it chopped down significantly. Hair in my eyes had been the most annoying thing on the fishing trip.
As I took a break from the computer, I ambled into the bathroom and took a good look at myself. The graceful swirl of the executive pomp was a far cry from the sweaty, stringy hair in my face, but I was tired of the whole coiffed look. Could I go through with it? Would I turn my pampered pomp over to Scott. I ran my fingers through my dense long hair. Yes, I would. In fact, it needed to be cut without delay!
Yes, I would put a down payment on my transformation now! And, I could do it myself. Take the first step. I rustled through my bathroom closet and located a pair of barber shears. Those six inches of shimmering glory that had enjoyed all sorts of fondling and adulation would fall right then and there! Ty be damned!
My heart pounded wildly as I snapped the shears open and shut a few times. I would lop off the copious bangs myself immediately and visit the barber in the morning to have the remaining bulk consigned to a set of electric clippers. Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to spend my free Monday?!
In the mirror, I saw myself combing down the long bangs so that they completely covered my eyes. How much would fall? My hand trembled. A lot! I quickly brought the shears to my forehead. CRUNCH! I did it! Watched in shock and horror as I took in what had just happened. Four inches of prime real estate fell into the sink. I had brutally hacked off the long forelock to an awkward length midway between the top of my brows and the hairline. My stomach felt queasy -- a mixture of fear and excitement. I felt great about having finally taken over the fate of my long, stylized locks.
As I looked at the cauldron of shorn hair in the sink, there was ample evidence that I had just mangled my exquisite executive pomp! I quickly hacked off the rest of the bangs, shortening them another half inch, and felt absolutely giddy about it. Scott would apply the clippers to me in the morning. If I asked for a "tight ivy" what was I bound to end up with at his hands?! I hardly cared. I wanted to be severely shorn.... Above all, I wanted to feel the naked steel teeth of the clippers chewing everything in their wake down to stubble.
It was hard to sleep that night, and even harder to concentrate as I drove toward my rendez vouz with Scott. In a way, I was a bit embarrased because the short bangs didn't go well with the rest of the unpruned mane. I had to spray them back, and that looked goofy too.
As I drove, I fondled the collection of plush wavy locks that spilled liberally towards the mid-point of my collar. They were soft and silken. I remembered how Vince's stubble felt at the lake and shivered, considering the contrast. Scott would inflict an extremely shorn look if I asked for a tight ivy....
I began to waver..... Really, I should ease back on the instructions and request a taper. And, maybe, I ought not start with Scott.....one of the other barbers who had been praised in the reviews. Yes, that was a much better plan for a gradual transformation. One of the older gentlemen who would follow my instructions. The closer I got to the shop, the father away I was from asking for Scott and from telling him to give me a tight ivy.
I rehearsed a new instruction outloud, "I'd like a medium taper -- and fairly short on top, please." The important thing was that I feel the clippers at my nape and briefly up the back of my head for the first time in my life that morning! I would not leave the barbershop unclipped. The soft locks that I fondled at the nape would fall to the floor in the wake of the barber's clippers.
The traditional shop came into view. I had reached my exciting destination! It look like it was still operating in the early 1960's. To my surprise, there was only one older barber working when I arrived at the shop. He was carefully trimming the hair of a client about his age. A few white tufts were sprinkled about the cape. In the waiting area was a young father -- looking quite shaggy with floppy hair over his ears and eyebrows -- and two boys, trying to be good, but still carrying on a bit. The father would flick his hair back nervously as he tried to get the boys to settle down.
Entering the shop was like entering a dream! The matching white cape and tunic on the barber, the glow of neon, the smell of witch hazel, the black-and-white checkered linoleum floor. Everything looked and smelled like yesteryear! The old barber nodded at me and acknowledged my presence as I walked past the dad and boys to take a seat in the waiting area.
Against the wall was a broom that rose up from a huge collection of shorn hair. Most of it was quite dark and shiny -- but there were some patches of blond and a fair bit of snowy white. Someone had gotten shorn -- as the main collection was a brown and honeyed color like my own. Right above it hung a chart -- published circa 1954 -- that had sketches of official haircuts. My eyes locked on the ivy league!
Then, I turned my attention to the other waiting clients. I was wondering what sort of haircut the shaggy father would get, when the curtain into the back area was pulled open. Like a startling apparition, through it walked none other than Scott in a very confident, authoritative manner! The flattop, the serious face...and the muscular arms emerging from the short-sleeved white tunic all let me know this was the man I had read about, as well as the one I subconsciously longed to be shorn by!
"Who's next?" he asked as he snatched the white cape that had hung over the back of the middle chair.
The barber looked at me directly, and I froze in fear. Quickly, I diverted his intense gaze to the young father. "He was here first," I stammered.
"No, go on, I'm waiting for Al," he said, nodding at the old barber. Oh, he wasn't a fan of Scott's, I realized. That made me even more apprehensive.
"Your boys, then?" I said, betraying my nervousness.
"Nope, they're not here for haircuts," came his quick reply.
Scott took charge. "Then, you're next, sir!" he said, flicking off some shorn clumps with the cape while staring directly at me. He studied my copious locks that dangled precariously over my collar and nested on my ears.
My legs felt like jelly as I rose to take my seat in the huge barber's throne. My maiden visit to the barbershop would definitely be memorable. Scott had an eager look in his eyes -- probably what Vince or I looked like when we were reeling in a big catch.
I wanted to enjoy the event, but anxiety and remorse overpowered my emotions. What was I getting into?! Dreaming was one thing. However, getting shorn by a heavy-handed, overly-eager barber was another! As I shuffled to the huge chair, I felt like I wanted to be anywhere else but in that barbershop.
I eased slowly into the chair. The comfort of the huge, red leather seat provided a bit of relief. In a flash, the cape was secured with a huge metal clip. As if I had been subdued in a straightjacket, it was clear there was no escaping now. I was totally in Scott's hand.
"So, what'll it be? Any special instructions?" he asked perfunctorily. He was just itching to take the clippers to me. I could sense it.
"Well, I'm looking for a change," I began.
"I thought I hadn't recognized you. New to the shop, you are? Scott's my name," the barber added.
"Yes, first time here for me. Colin's the name," I replied, beginning to warm a bit to my situation.
"So, you're wanting a big change," the muscular barber stated as he reached for the clippers.
"Well, uh, yes. But, uh, maybe not all at once," I offered. My voice was very thin, and it seemed like I was using all my energy and breath to get the words out.
"My signature cut is the flattop. How about one -- you've got good, thick hair for a nice plush top," he suggested, beginning to comb through my hair.
Then he paused. "Now, what happened here?" he asked as he examined the truncated bangs.
I turned red. "Got so frustrated last night that I chopped away at my bangs myself. They were all in my eyes," I admitted sheepishly. As if having to explain, I stammered on, "I said to myself -- that does it! First thing in the morning, I'm off to find a new barber who won't be timid with the clippers!" As soon as the words escaped my lips, I realized that I had handed the muscular, take-charge Scott a golden opportunity he would run with.
The young barber snapped on the huge set of Wahl clippers. "You came to the right shop!" he said in an animated tone. "No one has ever accused me of being timid with the clippers," he said as be snapped them on.
His eagerness spooked me. "Besides a flattop, what do you suggest? I mean the flat looks great on you, but not sure how that would go over on me," I responded quickly.
"Ivy," Scott stated flatly. "It's practical, tidy, crisp -- works well on any age, any profession. It's a classic cut," he said, holding the chattering clippers impatiently.
I glanced at the chart on the back wall and gulped. It was very short, and Scott would push the envelope. I glanced at his impatient face. He looked determined to take me down. My heart raced. Why not just throw in the towel and give the green light?
"Go for it! And make it tight!" I blurted out, surprising myself! A warm feeling of excitement overpowered me as soon as my assent was given and the strong barber gripped my head.
Scott needed no other encouragement to unleash his turbo-charged weed-whacker! In a flash, he'd gripped my head, wrenched it to the side, and begun peeling off the thick padding of hair that had formed the basis of my executive pomp. The sharp steel teeth chomped through my locks very close to the scalp starting at the base of my fashionable sideburn. My melted into submission as he began stripping away my signature styled executive cut.
Scott was careful to flick each shorn strip so that clump after clump piled up on my caped lap. The determined barber tackled my coif with gusto and quickly reduced the side to a fraction of an inch. Then the barber shoved my head down, so that my chin almost touched my chest, and I felt the vibrating clippers at my nape. I groaned with delight as the powerful machine tore through the dense locks; I squirmed as I felt the determined steel teeth clearing the occipital bone. I finally lost track of the vibration about half way up my scalp. Oh my, it was going to be one incredibly short haircut! I felt nervous and psyched. Adding to my delight was thinking how horrified poor Ty would be if he could see me now being shorn down to the bone.
The barber cleared away all the growth from the back and then moved to uncover my right ear. "You're going to find the ivy a whole lot more practical with this hot weather," Scott said, breaking into a bit of a chat. "Are you sure I can't convince you to go flat? Your hair is perfect for one." he stated with a gleam in his eye.
I looked at the precision top Scott sported. He looked so handsome and well groomed. I began to waver. Was I going out of my mind?! "How long have you sported a flattop?" I asked him in order to avoid a direct answer.
"Gee, as long as I can remember. It's a man's man type of haircut. Not for whimps. How about I carve you out a rather longish flattop and then I can take it down shorter and shorter until you say stop?" Scott seemed determined to make me submit to his plan for me. "I figure a nicely carved landing strip would make you look swell! You'll swagger out of here with a macho look and feel."
The thought of the clippers grazing the top of my head made me swoon. As much as I admired the flattop on Scott, I just could not buy-in to his recommendation. "Let's stick with the ivy for now, and I'll work towards the flat at a future point."
Scott snagged a clump of my truncated bangs and ran the clippers over the comb near the hairline. "Fine. And I'll make it real, real tight!" There was no turning back. The medium taper was no longer an option. I was firmly on the road to a tight ivy, and excited about the destination.
Scott went to town using a clippers-over-comb technique that took me down on top to a mere quarter inch! Only a very small bit of bangs were left at half inch! As he buzzed my remaining bristles down closer and closer to the scalp, I gasped, "Oh, it's so short!"
"Yep, ironically, a lot shorter than the flat I was going to cut you," he said with a grin. Then he began to go-over the entire cut with the clippers one more time. The vibration felt wonderful! In a daze, I submitted willingly to his strong hands as he guided my head from side to side and then chin-to-chest again.
As he worked on my back, I saw the immense amout of shorn hair that had gathered in my lap. It was staggering. Ty would weep at the site! Actually, he was going to weep at losing a long-time loyal client who was a sucker for expensive hair care products!
Finally, I was allowed to sit up. The site in the mirror made me gasp,"OMG! I'm just a few swipes away from a butch cut!"
"I beg your pardon!" Scott said, acting offended. Then he playfully rubbed my head. "Here, let me show you what a beautiful, tight taper you have up the back -- shorn to zero half way up, then gradually giving way to a quarter inch. That's no butch, Buddy! You've got a first class, super short ivy -- a classic haircut."
I stared in amazement at what I saw in the mirror. I looked like I had been drafted into the military.
"Now, let me just outline a nice sharp arch around your ears, and we'll be done!" Scott said with an air of finality. The young barber proceeded to rub some shaving cream around my ears and tidy me up carefully with a straight edge razor. A few dabs of witch hazel, and my radical transformation came to an abrupt end!
After dusting my entire head with an instrument that tickled, my cape was removed with a flourish. "There! You're a new man!" Scott proudly held up a mirror so I could take in the new my in my shorn entirety.
I stepped up from the chair and toward the mirror, looking closely at the severe haircut. "No one's going to call me a 'pretty boy' anymore," I muttered absentmindedly. I rubbed the stubble in back and then felt the length on top. "Boy, do I ever feel light-headed!"
"So, you like it?" Scott asked, seeking approval.
"Sure do -- but I'm not sure how it'll go over at the office," I said with a bit of reticence.
"Look, Buddy. You strut in there with confidence, let them get a look at the new you and stare 'em down. Act like a frigging man! If anyone gives you mouth, just tell 'em it's the cut you wanted, it's the cut you asked for and it's the cut you're going to keep!"
Wow, he was right! I sensed I would follow his instructions to a tee! Then, I grinned, and joked, "The cut I'm going to keep?! I thought I would go for the flattop you recommended -- on my next visit. Your haircut is looking super appealing to me just now!"
"Why wait? Hop back in the chair and I'll be happy to carve you a tight, tight horseshoe! I'll leave 95% of your scalp gleaming, scraped clean, and the tiniest hint of a shoe you can imagine along the crown!"
It sounded scary! "No, thanks -- I'd prefer my that when I get my flat it look just like yours with a luxuriant pile and nice landing strip!" I said quickly and handed Scott a $20. "Keep the change! The ivy is fantastic. You most certainly have a new regular client."
"I want you in my chair every other week, hear?" Scott commanded.
I nodded a quick agreement. As I began moving toward the door, the young shaggy father stood up. "That's a great haircut, man!" he told me as I passed by. "I think with this heat, a tight ivy is going to be the cut for me too. Scott, think you can pull an encore and cut mine just like that fellow's? You won't mind, Al, if I have Scott take me down tight for a change?"
"Get your shaggy mop over here, Reggy! I've been waiting for this day to come for a very long time. That mange of yours is going to be history...." Scott chirped eagerly. "Sure I can't persuade you to go for a flattop?" he said with a laugh as he began casting the cape around his next client.
The barber called out to me one last time as I headed to the door, "Enjoy your new haircut, and take some of the shops cards there by the door to give your friends! Don't think I'm not going to remember your promise to go flat next time....uh, what's your name?"
"Colin," I said. "See you," I called out with my hand on the door.
I glanced at the huge mounds of my shorn hair on the floor around Scott's chair as left the shop. I felt reborn -- like a new man. The haircut had been drastic -- it was hard to believe I'd actually had the balls to submit to Scott's aggressive shearing. And there was no turning back! The salon and the stylized pomp were relics of the past. I was happy to be free from Ty's tyranny of stylized, girlish hair. All the way home, I could not keep my hands off the clipped, bristled pate.
After I'd stared at the new me for about half an hour back in my apartment, I sat down to pound out the following on-line review of my experience:
- "Scott was totally fantastic. I give him six stars out of five! I was a little hesitant, as it was my first visit. He put a quick end to my salon cut with his expert barbering skills. I love the tight ivy he gave me. I highly recommend Scott -- especially to anyone who is wavering about making the transition from stylist to barber! You'll look and feel like a real man when he's through with you. And the heat of summer will be much more bearable too. My only regret was not opting for the flattop he first suggested. Hell, I might even go back tomorrow and get 'shoed!"
ooooooooooooooo To be continued