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Halfway by Dax


Back in the late '70's when I was in college, one day I knew it was time for a haircut.

Long and shaggy, it flowed over my collar in the back, and when combed forward, almost reached my chin. So I was constantly sweeping it to one side to keep it out of my face, giving the overall impression of someone
wearing a football helmet.

I decided to play it safe and go to a shop that specialized in men's "styling" rather than to a traditional barber shop. The place I chose had paneled walls and red carpeting, which gave it a masculine feel, and I started to relax when a younger stylist in his late twenties said I was
next, as some of the older barbers I'd been to in the past sometimes tended to get a little too carried away. After all, longer hair on men was the current trend.

He asked me how I wanted it cut and I said "halfway", meaning halfway down over my ears and just cleaned up a little. He said "out of the eyes,
right?". "Right", I said, happily thinking he knew exactly where I was coming from. He turned the chair around, and re-fastened the cape more snugly around my neck.

When I heard the clippers turned on I wondered why he'd done that, as normally my hair was layered with scissors. Suddenly he made a pass around my right ear, and a handful of hair fell onto the cape. I could see in a mirror across from me (behind a row of chairs) that my bushy sideburn had been reduced to stubble. He quickly cropped the back, and was now clipping around the left ear. Another handful of hair went flying, and he was still buzzing away fast and furious, going higher and closer.

The black cape now looked brown because it was covered with hair.He finally stopped, and I thought with relief he was finished. Then he grabbed the scissors on the counter and chopped off my bangs above my eyebrows. Now white-walled, my ears totally naked, I realized when I'd said "halfway", he must have thought I meant halfway up the side of my head! Next he messaged a handful of foam all over, brushing and blow-drying until it looked like I had and enormous pompadour.

Before I could react, the clippers came to life again, and he mowed a strip straight down the middle, running them over a comb until it was totally level. A mound of hair fell off my shoulders and onto the floor. The first thing I noticed when he turned me around was the thick, rounded ridge in front, standing perfectly at attention.

When he asked me if it was short enough I said "yes", even though I thought he must be kidding since there was practically nothing left to cut. I
was wrong. He whipped the chair around, and proceeded to shave around my ears and neck with hot lather and a straight razor. Then he pumped the big leather chair up again, and another seven minutes of
clipping, snipping and blending followed until it was expertly tapered, skin-tight. I was done.

Leaving the shop, I felt the wind whistling around my ears, and, out of habit reached to push the hair out of my eyes, realizing it was all gone. Instead I ran my hand over the stiff bristles on top, while inhaling the scent of bay rum and talc he'd rubbed on.

Feeling about ten pounds lighter, I had to admit he had done a good job getting it nice and even. This was turning out to be a very positive experience.

My new look was well received by my family and girlfriend, and except for a brief time when I had a full beard, I've pretty much had a flattop ever since.

And all of these years later I'm still grateful to that young barber who found the right style for me, and set me free from that whole ridiculous hair thing
of the '70's.



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