I was 13 and spending the summer with my aunt Tina while my parents traveled abroad. She owned a beauty shop downtown and most of my days were spent there since I didn’t know any local kids. The shop had 5 leather pink plush chairs and cigarette smoke hung in the air from patrons and stylist smoking throughout the day. As a young male I felt invincible in there since I only had received haircuts at a barbershop up till that point. There were only 3 beauticians working at the time and one of them named Rhonda really intimidated me. She was always eyeing me as if she wanted to get her hands on my long blonde hair that I had managed to let get below my ears in my parents absence. She would tease me and say” sit in my chair shug and I’ll trim you up nice and short like a young man should look” I hated to hear those words, it made me so uncomfortable and set on a since of impending doom. It didn’t help that she was quite attractive, she was tall and thin and in her 40s. She had brunette hair and it was always teased up high. She loved to wear high heals that clacked everywhere she walked and leather leggings which I had never seen until that summer. Between clients she would relax back in her styling chair smoke cigarettes teasing me about my haircut to come.
One morning my aunt had a doctors appointment and sent me ahead to shop without her, this made me very uneasy as I knew Rhonda would be there . I walked in the shop to see her busy away cutting a boys hair a little younger than me, I was shocked. I didn’t know boys got there haircuts in beauty parlors and suddenly I felt vulnerable to the possibility myself. Rhonda smirked at me and said good morning. She could see the shock on my face and she reveled in it. I could see from the hair on the floor it was a pure shearing the boy had been getting. He was draped in a black shiny vinyl cape and the chair was positioned as high as she could pump it, he was helpless. She snipped and snipped until his bushy hair had been reduced to almost nothing. He appeared to have been crying at one point but accepted submission to his uncontrollable fate. I tried to ignore the horrible scene and scurried past to the big leather styling chair in the corner that no hairdresser was occupying at the moment. I sat back and opened my book looking down into it secretly praying I would get out of there with my long hair before day ended. Suddenly I heard the blow dryer roar and looked up to see Rhonda blowing the loose hairs away from her victims neck. She combed his hair and played with it as if she was admiring a trophy. Then she hit the chairs pedal with her high heel and it dropped down to floor level. She ripped the cape off the young boy and said ” up you go sweetie, that’s enough for today.” He climbed out of the pink chair and walked away as if ashamed he let himself be shorn like so. Rhonda ran her fingers through his hair as he walked away to add insult to injury.
I looked back down as if by not paying attention I could cloake myself from same thing happening to me.
As he walked out the door to the shop I peaked up to see Rhonda plopping back in her styling chair, she crossed her legs and fished through her gown for her cigarettes. She pulled one out and lit it with a big inhale as if she had just declared victory. The sound of her leather leggings rubbing against the leather chairs cushion just about sent me into a trance. Suddenly I was hoping for the very thing that I had been fearing all summer. I wanted to be Rhonda’s victim.
Rhonda took a big drag and spun around slowly to face me and said” changed your mind yet, I could trim you up right now and have you handsome in a jiffy.” I played it cool and just nodded no. ” suit yourself shug” she put her cigarette out in the ashtray inside the armrest of the big styling chair and blew out the remaining smoke in my direction. At this point I was feeling a stirring inside me like never before, Rhonda had me hypnotized.
The phone from back of the shop rang and she exited the chair to answer it. As she disappeared to the back room I studied the surroundings of her styling station. The black shiny cape that hung off back of the chair, the white and black checkered floor under the big pink chair, and the stream of smoke that emitted from the half extinguished cigarette she left in the armrests ashtray. I stood up and slowly walked over not really sure what I was even thinking, I just wanted a closer look. Then before I knew it I sat back slowly in the chair and surcombed to the comfy pink leather that was still warm from Rhonda sitting there herself.
I slowly pulled the still smoking cigarette out of the ashtray and put it to my lips and tasted her lipstick as I dragged slowly from it and exhaled the sharp smoke into the air. I had a moment of clarity as I looked up into the mirror infront of me and saw my small helpless body in the very chair I had been avoiding for weeks.
Then it happened, Rhonda came from the back room, saw me in her chair and said” what do we have here.?” I stammered something uncomprehendable out of my mouth and made an attempt to stand up but she was already behind me with her hands on my shoulders pulling me back into the chair. She ran her long fingernails up my neck and into my hair and flicked it out from behind my ears. I was squirming and knew what was about to happen, Rhonda was going to have her way with me.
Paralyzed with fear and excitement I watched as she pulled the cape out from behind me and whisked it out into the air infront of me allowing it to settle slowly over my puny frame. It was pulled tightly around my neck and now it was official. No Escape.
I could clearly see she was loving every minut of my turmoil. Now caped and with her hands on my shoulders holding me in place, she slowly pumped the chair pedal accenting me to the highest level . Every pump jolted my senses, up I went feeling more vulnerable with each budge.
Now that I was just where Rhonda needed me, she walked to the counter in front of the chair and grabbed the comb and water bottle. ” don’t worry sweetie, we’re just gonna dust these split ends” . She spayed me down and combed my hair straight making it look 2 inches longer than normal. With her hips she bumped the pink chair and it spun around to face away from the mirror, I knew this wasn’t a good thing.
Behind me I heard the the shears being picked up off the counter and snapped open and shut a couple times. Then it happened, Rhonda, with her fingers which reaked of cigarette smoke, placed the scissors at above my ear level and spun the chair slowly, snipping away as if a bowl cut with out the bowl on my head. She had removed all the bulk in a matter of seconds and now could start really trimming me up.
I was devastated and she could see it, a tear ran down my cheak and I sniffled trying to hold back anymore. ” it will be over in a bit shug, just sit still”.
Rhonda spun the chair back around to face the mirror and walked infront of me to the counter. She picked a pack of cigarettes up off counter and pulled one out. She pulled a lighter out of the back pocket of her black leather pants and lit it with a deep inhale. She turned around and blew it in my direction. ” I’ve been wanting to trim you up all summer and I have to admit it is funner than I thought it would be, there is nothing like a little helpless boy in my chair and you do it well.” She leaned back against the counter and puffed on her cigarette admiring the victim she had tackled. I sat there still and helpless covered by the shiny cape wondering if it would ever end.
Then the bell on the door rang as a new patron entered, ” hello” called out and Rhonda chirped” come on back” . Then a pretty lady in her late 30s came up from behind me making eye contact and giggling at same time saying ” Rhonda what have you got here” ?
“I’ll be finished up in a bit sug just sit in the next chair over and I’ll be right with you”. She said.
“He’s precious Rhonda, go easy on him”
Now I was completely mortified, like a little sissy in the beauty shop chair, completely helpless.
The new patron sat back in the styling chair and crossed her legs as if she right where she wanted to be, she lit a cigarette and started to read a magazine.
Rhonda walked back to behind the chair and raised the 4 inches of hair off my head with her fingers and snipped away till an inch was all that was left. Schlick, Schnick, Schnick was all I heard and suddenly it was all gone. A snip here and there around my neck and ears to clean things up and then a jolt as the chair was lowered to floor level.
The hairdryer blew my neck clean of the tiny little hairs that itched and as if she had done it a million times, the vinyl cape was ripped off me and that was it. I had been completely clipped of my dignity. I sat there in a daze still wondering what happened when Rhonda pushed me up and out of the chair. ” don’t worry ” she said ” the next one will be easier” .
I walked over to the styling chair in the corner and sat down feeling totally immasculated. No barber had ever worked me over like this. Rhonda and the fresh client giggled as she sat back and was caped. Rhonda pumped the chair up a couple times, looked over at me and said,” don’t frown! your precious”