It was long ago sometime in the mid 1970s. I’m Nathan and I must of been around 14 at the time. For as long as I could remember the two boys next door had always had shaved heads. Everyone else back then had longer hair. Tim and Ricky had a dad who owned a set of hair clippers. The boy’s hair would grow to a spiky crewcut length, then off their hair would come. The boy’s dad would shave their heads down to the skin bald with those clippers. Kids would laugh for a bit at school each time it happened.
It was such a contrast to all the boys with longer hair at the time. It was funny to see their white scalps and those ears. They’d had their heads shaved their entire lives and had become accustomed to it. I really don’t think either one of them minded being bald after awhile.
I had always kept my hair longer over the ears. My mom would take me to a barbershop nearby and I’d get a trim every 3 months or so. I just couldn’t imagine getting my head shaved back then. It would be like losing an arm or something. The whole idea made me quiver.
On a few occasions I’d witnessed Tim and Ricky’s dad shaving the boy’s heads. He’d always do it in the garage and spread newspaper on the floor. They would sit in an old metal folding chair and the hair would fall down and land on the newspaper. The clippers would buzz away loudly as their dad quickly shaved off about an inch or two of hair growth. I’d sit watching in a mixture of horror and fascination. Little did I know one day soon I’d wind up in that metal folding chair getting my head shaved. Their dad did it so routinely he thought nothing of it. Often a cigarette would dangle from his mouth as he shaved their heads. When it was done he’d sweep up the hair and toss it in the trash. I’d rub the boys bald heads and thought it felt strange.
One Saturday morning I made a huge mistake! My hair had gotten real long and I protested getting a haircut. I begged my mom can’t we just do it next week. She insisted on this Saturday to take me to the barber. I yelled, carried on, and protested like a big baby. My dad was listening in from the other room. What I didn’t realize was this very moment the boy’s dad was giving them those head shaves in the garage next door.
“Nathan, I’m taking you to the barbers this morning!” yelled my dad.
“No, I want mom to take me,” I said.
All of this had really fired up my dad’s temper. Looking back I likely got what I deserved! He was mad and I realized I was in for some sort of punishment.
“We’re getting you over to the barber right now for a nice short haircut Nathan,” he said.
My heart sank. I loved my hair and didn’t want to have it cut really short. I had gotten myself into a big mess this Saturday morning!
Just as we were walking out to the car parked in the driveway my dad stopped and starred next door. He’d seen the haircuts going on in the garage. He starred for too long. I knew he was thinking something, but what? Fear struck me right then.
“Nathan, get over here!” he shouted.
“What dad, why?” I asked.
“Ricky’s dad is gonna give you the hair cut!” he exclaimed.
“What?” I asked.
“Yeah, come on it’s time you cut your hair like a real man,” he said.
“No dad, please no!” I said.
My dad was a big man and it wasn’t a good idea to question him. I’d done it a few times and had been sorry. In my mind I knew Ricky’s dad only knew how to give one type of haircut, shaved bald. This did not sound good.
“Hey Roger, you have time for one more of those hair cuts this morning?” asked my dad.
“Yeah, sure why?” he asked.
“Well Nathan is way overdue for a haircut. I’ll pay you something for it,” he said.
“Oh no, I’ll do it for free,” he said.
My body shook with fear. Me with my head shaved bald! I’d never thought of this happening. Just then I saw the two boys start to laugh wildly.
“Bring Nathan right on in here, he’s up next!” their dad said.
“No dad, please no!” I protested.
“Nathan get it that chair boy!” my dad yelled.
I knew it was no use now. I walked nervously as all eyes watched me. My worst fear of having my head shaved skin bald was about to be real. I could hear the laughter and giggles from all four now. Tears came to my eyes. I quickly tried to hide that I was crying.
“Nathan is getting his head shaved too,” Ricky said.
I sat in that cold metal folding chair. Faster than I could brace myself for it the clippers dug into my scalp. Ricky’s dad had lifted my bangs and made one long swipe straight down the center of my head with the clippers. It was too late, no going back now. I saw long chunks of my sandy brown hair fall down on the floor. It landed on the newspaper mixing in with my two friend’s hair. All sort of thoughts flashed through my head. What will my friends say? How long will it take to grow back? I was doomed.
“Hey Roger, do you mind being Nathan’s new hair cutter from now on?” asked my dad.
“There’s no reason not,” he replied.
“He needs a real haircut like your boys have always had,” my dad said.
I sat still for the next five minutes as just about every bit of my nice long hair fell to that newspaper on the floor. Nothing but a 1/16 of an inch of stubble would remain. The rest of that day I cried off and on like a baby. For the rest of high school my head was shaved bald once a month just like Tim and Ricky’s. After a while all I could do was get used to it.