Just lower his ears.

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I first realized my desire to wear my hair short by accident. I was 14 years old and always kept my hair shaggy. I actively resisted going to the salon or barber and usually managed to convince my father to allow me to get my hair just trimmed. Many times I had observed other boys in town mercilessly shorn for the summer and I always managed to walk out the the shop unscathed. That all changed one summer day.

My father was out of town on business the last week of school. My brother and I were home on Saturday morning and as we eventually did, we had pushed my mother to the limit. She had clearly had enough of our rowdy behavior as she banished us outside to play for the morning. Around 10:15 she emerged with her purse and keys in hand. “Let’s go boys. Time to get your summer haircuts.” she ordered. I was shocked as this was not anticipated. “But Dad usually takes us to the barber?” I questioned. “Not this time. I want you looking sharp when he arrives tonight. Now get in the car.” she commanded. We obliged and were silent the entire ride downtown.

We entered the shop and the familiar smell and background noise awakened our senses. There were three barbers working on several of our friends I recognized from school. I remembered the barbers from my last trip. There was an older gentleman with white hair and a young guy with a very long beard who both had cut may har before. I was always happy with how the cut my hair but something about the lady barber always caught my attention. I had silently wished many times I could request her but it always seemed she was in the middle of a cut and one of the other chairs would open first. Something in my teenage brain longed to sit in her chair but it never worked out.

“Have a seat. We will be right with you.” the female barber said as we entered. My brother and I had a seat while my Mom walked over and began talking to the other parents. Moments later the lady barber finished up with my friend John and announced “Who is next?” My brother and I sat silent until my mother realized it was us. “Oh, sorry! He will go first.” she said pointing directly at me. I blushed in anticipation as I rose and walked to her chair. Sitting down she asked “What are we doing today.?” “Just as trim ma’am.” I stammered as my mother approached. “Hi Kathy, their father usually brings them in but I decided to get their summer cuts out of the way while he is out of town. Let”s do a nice short cut for the summer.” she requested.

I spoke up in protest “I don’t even want a haircut. Just a trim please.” Placing her hand on my should the barber laughed. “Don’t worry hun, we can just lower your ears a bit.” My mother quipped. “Yeah Kathy, just lower his ears. No haircut for him today!’ Kathy smiled “Sure we can just lower his ears. Short for the summer, you want white walls on the sides?” My mother looked perplexed “Sure Kathy, whatever you think looks best. I just want it to last”. “One summer cut coming up. How about the top?” the barber asked nonchalantly. “Just blend it into the sides. Whatever looks best.” she said calmly. I was really concerned at this point as my mother clearly didn’t understand barber talk and had given the barber all control.

I was quickly caped with tissue around my neck when she placed her hand on my crown. “Head down please.” she commanded. The clippers popped and began to buzz. Before I could move she plowed them up my neck as my mother looked on curiously. She worked her way through the back of my head quickly as I felt a noticeable breeze of cool air on my scalp. Moving to my side she took the clippers up my temple revealing my bare scalp as I saw hair rain down the cape. My mother gasped as she realized what was happening. “Oh Kathy, that’s really short!” she blurted out. Looking away from my shorn scalp she questioned “You said to lower his ears? White walls like I said before right?” My mother blushed “I didn’t understand what you meant but I guess it is too late now.” “Definitely too late to stop now. This young man is almost burred at this point.” she stated. “Finish him up then. It will grow back. Sorry hun.” my embarrassed mother apologized.

The barber then continued without hesitation to peel what remaining hair was left on my back and sides. I later realized she had started with a balding clipper and had taken me straight to the skin all around. She then proceeded to reduce the top of my hair to a number one and faded in the crown. With a straight razor she tidied up the neck and around my ears. As she announced “That will definitely last for the summer. Who is next?” averting her gaze to my brother sat bewildered by my shearing.

My brother rose and sat in the chair as I approached my mother. She looked sheepishly at me “You look great. I hope you are not mad.” I rubbed my bare nape as the goose bumps tingled. “It’s ok. I like the way it feels!” The barber interrupted. “Just like his brother hun?” My Mom looked apologetically in his direction. “I guess it is only fair?” “Sure thing.” she said quickly as she began to shear my brother in similar fashion.

As I sat in the shop with my scalp tingling something in me was realized. To this day I have never had more than about 2 weeks of growth on my head and I have made a hobby of trying every short cut and visiting as many different barber shops as I can always secretly hoping the barber cuts my hair shorter than I ask for.

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