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Don't Even Tell Me by Tim

Bryan Evans knew why U-Haul said of the trip "An adventure in Moving." Here he was driving across country with everything he owned in the huge truck, towing his car on a trailer. It was a hot summer day traveling across the desert southwest, filled with long boring stretches of road and numerous inclines that constantly dropped his top speed below 40 M.P.H., and he was hungry and tired. He finally found a descent sized town and pulled off the Interstate.

Life was starting brand new for Bryan. He had broken up with his live-in girlfriend, quit his dead-end job, and packed up heading towards a new job and new life on the west coast. It was a total risk sight unseen. He had only dealt with his new boss over the phone and internet. He had always been a cautious, conservative man, and now he was enjoying the feeling of changing his stripes. He found a large strip-mall with several restaurants and a huge parking lot (courtesy of the Wall-Mart) so it would be easy to park the big truck.

He jogged over to the Applebees and went in for a descent meal. From his booth he looked out over the strip mall. There was a dry-cleaners, a bookstore, a barber shop, a...... He brought his eyes back to the barber shop. It had big glass windows clearly showing a gentleman in the chair facing towards him, and the heads of other men waiting their turn.

The shop reminded him of the one down the street from his old apartment that he passed every day on his way to work. More than once he desired to walk in for a cut. He never did though. His hair had always been cut by his mom, a veteran stylist, at her salon. He quickly ran his hand across his hair checking that it was laying correct across his head and that the part felt straight.

All the driving with the window open had wreaked havoc on his style, despite the blow dryer and hairspray he used that morning. His thick, dark brown hair now was basically the same way it had been forever; parted on the left side, long bangs combed over from one side to the other, covering half of his ears and just covering a bit of his collar. It had been longer but never really any shorter. Mom liked it this way and wouldn't hear of him going any shorter, regardless of what the current styles were.

Sometimes he wondered if she even knew what the current styles were, since her shop catered to an older clientele still getting their weekly bouffants. As he sat there eating his lunch he kept watching the shop. He was too far to see exactly what kind of cuts were happening but could see men getting on the chair or off.

The waiting line seemed to be getting shorter now. It intrigued him that the client faced away from the mirror and couldn't watch the cut. What would that be like? As he visited the bathroom he again checked his hair and combed his bangs aside so they wouldn't go in his eyes. It looked the same but then it should since mom gave him a farewell cut just last week. He wished he either had some hairspray to keep his bangs lying to the side, or that they were a bit shorter. He looked at his watch and noted the time. He was well ahead of schedule and would be at his hotel early for a change. At that moment Bryan decided he'd truly liberate himself from his old life with a visit to the barber after lunch.

As he finished his meal and sipped his coffee he tried to decide on what kind of cut to get. Did he play it safe and just get his present look trimmed? No, that wouldn't accomplish anything really. Did they have stylebooks like the salon? Would the barber be of assistance? Since he had never been in a barber shop he had no idea what to expect. He went back to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, trying to envision any other style on his face. He simply couldn't. He knew he wanted something different. In fact he wanted something drastically different. But what? As he paid his bill and started walking to the shop his heart was pounding and he was shaking with enthusiasm. He still didn't know what kind of cut he wanted, but figured he'd come up with something.

Tony's Barber Shop seemed a bit dark considering all the sunshine coming in the big windows. It was smaller than Bryan expected too. The cheap plastic chairs for waiting patrons were a far cry from the couches of the salon. The magazine rack was well worn with magazines for sport's buffs and car lovers. There were no stylebooks. The single barber (Tony himself he presumed) was a robust man who looked in his mid forties, with a crisp, short, black, flattop with a hint of grey. He looked Italian and smiled pleasantly while he worked on the elderly gentleman in the chair.

Bryan was a bit surprised to find no others currently waiting. Perfect timing! Tony smiled at him as he sat down. Bryan looked at all the decorations on the wall. There were numerous pictures all showing men with short or very short haircuts. Some had almost no hair at all. While he wasn't looking to be totally bald the idea of a very short haircut now surged through his veins. Yes, he was going to go for it. He felt chills running all through his body at that moment. The gentleman currently in the chair was getting up, meaning it would soon be his turn. He eyes frantically passed from photo to photo trying to make a decision. He still had no idea. In fact, he didn't really care, as long as it was something short and different from what he had now. The barber motioned to the chair. "Have a seat, I'll be right with you." He went off to collect payment for the last cut.

As Bryan walked to the chair he looked one long last time at his reflection in the mirror. His hair was trying to fall in his eyes again. He reached up and pushed it aside. He was so excited he felt even a little queasy as he sat down in the huge chair. It was so different from the small chairs of the salon.

He watched as the barber returned by his side. "Hello, I'm Tony. How are you today sir?" "Doing real well actually." "Good to hear that." Tony walked behind him and ran a comb under some water and then proceeded to comb Bryan's hair back in place, pulling the bangs over to the side and making sure the part was straight. "What'll it be? Just a trim?" The moment of truth had arrived, and Bryan finally knew what to say. "No, it's time I make a change. I want a whole new look. Something very different from this, and real short." "What did you have in mind?" "I'm going to leave that one up to you. Don't even tell me what you have in mind." Tony chuckled to himself. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been given these instructions. "OK, something very different and real short coming right up."

Tony threw the white robe over his shoulders, put the tight white lining around his neck and fastened it all snugly. Bryan looked straight ahead at the warm Arizona skies proud of his daring instructions. Mom would be screaming if she knew what he was doing. He didn't care. This was marking the start of his new life. Part of him was dieing to ask Tony what he planned, but the kid in him that loved Christmas Morning surprises won and he kept his thoughts to himself. Since he couldn't see anything he focused in on his senses of touch and hearing. The first thing he heard was Tony walk behind him, and then felt his hands push his head down so his chin almost touched his chest.

The sound of a pair of clippers roared to life. His mom's shop didn't even have a pair of clippers. A comb lifted up his hair in the back as the clippers touched down on the base of his neck. For as loud as they were he expected to feel a strong vibration against his skin, but he only felt the slightest bit. He was a bit surprised that they were laying directly against his skin. But then he did ask for 'real short.'

The barber pushed the clippers into his hair and he could hear their tone change as they cleared a path ahead of them. He could feel hairs falling on his neck as the barber continued the run clear up the back of his head. It was a magical feeling at first, but as it got higher he feared that the barber might choose to shave his head bald. That look would fit his instructions! But Tony stopped before the very top and returned to the base of the neck for a second pass. He relished the sensation again of the clipper against his skin. He was surprised how much he liked the feeling.

It was almost....liberating. He figured right now he wouldn't mind even if Tony did shave him bald. The speed with which Tony worked was amazing. His mom always took about 30 minutes to cut his hair. He figured Tony would be done in 5-10 at this rate. Some of the freshly cut hairs had now worked their way around front and fell down the cape in front of his eyes. They were all 3-4 inches long. He didn't realize how long his hair actually had been. In no time Tony had finished the back leaving it feeling light and cool. He put his hand on Bryan's head and returned it to level as he walked around to his left side.

Bryan's bangs fell forward once more, once again poking him in the eyes. Those eyes opened wide as the clippers made their first pass tight against his temple clear up to his part. Huge clumps of hair came raining down on the salon robe. He realized that the side of his head was going to be as short as the back. He had no idea how much hair was left back there but it didn't feel like much if any.

The fact he couldn't see what was happening made this who adventure much more fun. He had no idea what style the barber was going for but it was clearly going to be short and different. The clippers were now running high above his ear, also stopping just at his part. Soon the left side of his head felt as light and cool as the back and Tony was making his way around to the right. He ignored the bangs lying against the front of Bryan's face and started in once again at the temple, repeating the process the left side had gone through.

The cape was now covered with hair, and Bryan's head felt lighter. It seemed like he was sitting taller now as a result. If it weren't for the bangs clouding his vision, Bryan would swear he didn't have any hair left. His heart was pounding hard. Tony walked behind him and quickly pulled the bangs straight up with the comb and lopped them off with a pass of the clippers. He didn't know how much was left.

Nothing fell back into his line of vision but he also knew he didn't feel the clippers against his scalp. It seemed the top would be left longer than the sides and back. The comb and clipper duo continued working on the top, lifting and buzzing, shorter and shorter. He found the feel of the comb against his scalp oddly pleasing. All his senses were alive.

Then Tony laid the comb flat against the sides of his head and ran the clippers over them. Just small amounts of hair fell. Bryan could tell he was blending in the top with the sides. He wondered what this look would be. Was it a flattop? One of those short buzz cuts? It might even be a Mohawk! No, he had cut everything off the back. So that couldn't be it. The clippers were silenced and returned to the rack.

Tony loosened the robe, removed the tight lining around his neck, and shook all the stray hairs to the floor. Bryan wondered if he were done since Tony hadn't said anything or shown him his new look in the mirror. But then the cape was returned loosely around him and Tony walked back to his counter. Bryan had no idea what was next. He heard a strange blending sound, and then felt the odd but wonderful feel of warm shaving lather placed all around along his hairline. This was a totally new experience.

Tony started spreading the foam and Bryan was surprised to feel it running 1/2 way up the sides and back of his head. He didn't think this was a mistake, but was a little alarmed at how high it felt. Maybe he was going to be bald after all! Tony once again directed his head down. The feel of his fingertips on his short hair felt totally different than earlier. He used a straight razor and started removing the foam along the hairline.

He could tell by the sound he was being scraped smooth. Sure enough, the widely spread foam was no accident as Tony continued this motion 1/2 way up the sides of his head. He was definitely going to end up with a 'real short' cut. His head was returned to level, and Tony attacked the left side, again starting at the hairline but extending about half way up the side. It was strange feeling the barber hold his ear as he scraped around it. In just minutes the same performance was repeated over his right ear. Then Tony put down the razor and used a fluffy towel to gather up any remaining foam. It felt totally foreign against his now smooth scalp. Bryan couldn't wait to touch it himself.

Again the clippers were turned on, and Tony worked deliberately on blending in the line between the shaved sides and where the short stubble of hair began. Soon the clippers were silenced and a vacuum came to life, which was run all over his head and face gathering up every stray hair. Tony finally said something. "OK Sir, let's see what you think of this. It's real short and definitely different." He handed Bryan a hand mirror. Bryan didn't even recognize himself. The hair on the sides of his head was gone, except for very faint stubble starting about 2 inches above his ears.

Otherwise the sides were very white and shiny smooth almost to the point of reflective. The top was just a small pile of hair about 1/2 inch long and 4 inches wide. There was a perfect blending from the top to the smooth sides. He looked at his reflection and saw the back. This was just like the sides but totally smooth about two-thirds of the way up the back before the stubble was blended in. From the back the small pile of hair on top was hardly noticeable. It was an extremely short haircut, far shorter than anything Bryan had ever had before. He looked like an advertisement for the military.

He also looked taller, leaner, and tougher. He was already loving this new look. "Wow, this looks great! Is there a name for this haircut?" "Sure is. It's called a High and Tight." "Well you did a great job. I like it a lot." Tony removed the robe and Bryan stood up, gazing at the huge pile of hair on the floor. Was that really all his? "That'll be $6." Bryan gave him a $10. "Keep the change." "It's appreciated. Have a nice day." "Oh I will. You just made my day." As Bryan walked out of the shop both hands immediately shot up to touch his new head. They ran all over it, enjoying the smooth feel of the bare skin and the short hairs on top.

He was truly now a new man, headed out for a better life. He started jogging to his U-Haul, ready to continue his adventure in moving.

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