Summer Time


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Summer Time (A story told from several perspectives)

 

Julia:

 

Dad dropped me off early (way to early in the morning for me) in front of mom’s house and I waved goodby, sighed…and picked up my bags. Mom was standing at the door, hands on her hips. I could see the scowl on her face from the curb. It made me a bit nervous. What could I have done, I thought. I never seemed to measure up or do right it seemed….at least in mom’s eyes most of the time. I got pretty good grades, didn’t do crazy stuff…that much, had some part time jobs….it just never seemed enough. As I trudged toward the door and whatever awaited me, I sighed thinking about how all of my plans for this summer had just come crashing down and i was pretty angry about it. Since finding out a month or so ago that the custody situation had changed and, rather then the usual arrangement of being at my dad’s a lot of the time, especially in the summer…I was going to be with mom …until August…MY whole summer ruined…ruined. Worse….we were going to be up north in the bugs and yuck…no friends…no fun….work….in the kitchen at a camp… with my mom….her rules…her badgering. I wanted to scream. She is the cook most summers at a conservative Christian camp. I’ve been there before. Not my thing…at all. I don’t care what it means or what it’s for…or how ungrateful I am for all I’m given (Mom’s mantra)….errrr. I was going to try with all my might though to keep a lid on my anger right now. I know from experience that things could ALWAYS get worse…so I try…try….try to bite my tongue.

 

Mom met me at the door and held open the screen, not saying anything at first. I could feel her eyes on me as I passed her into the house. I just tried not to engage. I was about to head for the stairs to my room, when she finally said, “I had expected you a LOT earlier. Your father….” she said…but then she stopped…staring at me, hands on her hips again. “What?” I said, suddenly  more uncomfortable then I was before. “Julia,” she continued, “….I thought I was VERY clear when you were here last time that you needed to get a decent summer haircut before we left. I even told your father about that….You’ll have no time for the hair and it just won’t work…I just don’t think you understand the importance of this summer what it means to us…in fact this money PAYS for things you count on…Lord knows your father can’t be bothered. I’m VERY disappointed.”

 

My gut tightened…and I did all I could to clamp down the volcano that I could feel boiling up. THIS was the constant thing. Always “the hair” as she called it…as if it didn’t have an owner. It was clear that she hated it, but over the last couple of years since the divorce she had been powerless really to force me to do anything about it.

 

I bit my lip and struggled out (as calmly as I could), “Butttttt….mom…I did. Dad gave me the money and I went to the salon down town. They cut a couple inches at least off the bottom and layered it a lot in front and some in the back. It’s a lot lighter. I….I like it mom.” I could tell she was not impressed but she just shook her head, clucked in her usual way and said again, “Again…YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE…OR THE CHALLENGE OF THIS SUMMER….. You won’t have time for hair, makeup, fancy dress up or any of that….it’s a distraction that WE can’t afford…AND something that is frowned upon at camp. ALL of this is just one clear indication once again that your focus is lacking and you have other priorities. As I said…I’M disappointed. It might be time to rethink some things young lady.”

 

In looking back, I was tired but the words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. I just blurted out, “ERRRR…I HATE YOU! YOU’VE RUINED MY SUMMER!…I DON’T CARE ABOUT ANY OF THIS. NOBODY EVER ASKED ME WHAT I WANTED!…” I could see the look on mom’s face now and it sent chills through my body. I knew the look…and before I could do anything else, mom had a vice grip on my arm…”DON’T YOU EVER….” she said, “Mom…please…” I blurted out..I mean…I’m sorry…Don’t you see my side? Mom?” I started to cry…I had really done it now. “Mom…” said again through the tears, “I…I…”

 

Mom looked into my face with a look of fury. “YES Julia…I…I…I…THAT’s the problem. NOW…you get your butt into the garage and load the rest of the things that are there in the back of the car. ALL of the stuff stays here…including your cell phone. Give it to me. I was going to make some accommodations and compromises….but I’m done…absolutely done.” I hesitated, “but handed it to her as if I was on automatic, “Please mom….” I begged. I watched my precious phone disappear as mom walked to the kitchen. As she went through the door she said, “I’ll meet you at the car in a few minutes young lady and you had better be ready to go with a MAJOR attitude adjustment. I need to make some phone calls.”

 

 

Margaret (Mom):

 

When I saw her get out of the car I knew she had an attitude already. It didn’t happen often, but it was becoming more and more frequent of late. Maybe it was the teen years, hormones…I have no idea…but the snotty attitude, the slight disrespect and, worse…the selfishness was increasing. Maybe this summer would be the opportunity to work some of that out. She had no idea what was riding on this year. If it went well there was talk of a full time job with full benefits and other opportunities. This was Julia’s opportunity as well. She had no idea the effort that was required as a single parent…yes a single parent in SPITE of her father. He plays the good dad, lavishing her with freedom and little doodads…but the real work of raising and supporting fell on me. It always has.

 

I had asked her to do something about her hair for very practical reasons. I would have been fine with a nice bob or something a lot cleaner, neater and cooler. The long hair just won’t work with the kitchen hair net and all the heat there…I honestly just can’t risk it either. When I saw her get out of the car I wasn’t surprised…but it was still disappointing. I had explained the situation to her father…which was usually like talking to a brick wall. I had no doubt that she begged and pleaded and he caved. I wasn’t really surprised about that. The big, thick curtain of blond hair swung around her face and shoulders as she got out of the car. “My God girl…” Margaret whispered to herself, “…you really have no idea…and you’re so self absorbed you can’t or won’t listen…”

 

As she walked to the house I just figured I might let her find out the hard way…although there was a risk there. I’d just have to make some solid and firm rules and punish her severely if she was late for work, if that whole mess wasn’t completely covered by the hair net, if she complained…any of that. However…ALL of that changed with the outburst. The selfishness and insolence just rolled out of her and I had started to tell her what was about to transpire as a result…but thought better of it. I knew EXACTLY what needed to happen. An attitude adjustment was about to be IMPOSED. There wouldn’t be an issue with the hair net, showers…None of that. Not any more. It was time for a…final solution. As I sent Julia to load the car and walked into the house, I quickly found the number and made my first call…

 

 

 

 

Norma (The barber):

 

It’d been a bit of a slow morning, but I was anticipating a bit more traffic soon. It was that time of year. A small town barber and really the only game in town. I cut male and female heads…and had a LOT of fun doing it. Early summer is my favorite time of year. I could see em coming from a mile away…mom’s with daughters in tow and maybe a son or two as well…but usually that was dad’s work. Even with the guys, every once in awhile there’d be some shaggy head being pulled or pushed through the door with specific instructions by mom or dad to “just take this whole mess off.” The fun ones were the beggers or cryers or strugglers that needed a swift smack on the behind. Not by me mind you…I left that to the parents. I just made sure they watched the hair come off in huge sheets…rolling over the white striped capes that I trapped em under. I always made a bit of a show out of these with a firm hand holding the head in the right place as the powerful Osters pealed off the hair. That always took the starch out of em. I loved it.

 

I got more girls in here like that too then you’d think. I knew what was up as they came down the street…I had radar for it. I just knew something more than a trim or bob at the shoulder or something similar was going to happen. There were lots of reasons and sometimes I heard about em. More often then not there was just a stern mom ordering or helping the shaggy daughter into the chair and telling me to cut it short. “Get it all off her neck and outa her face…” I often heard. Sometimes adding instructions for a severe bowl cut or a very short, severe bob. Sometimes though not much instruction was given other then “short” and that was when I really got to work and have some fun. Most of the time these little pretties look more like little boys then girls by the time the cape comes off. That’s when the wails and tears really started sometimes, as usually I keep them turned away from the mirror as I work so they can’t see anything other than their beautiful locks tumbling down. Although the panic sometimes starts earlier…when I fire up clippers. That’s a first for some of em. Either way, it’s music to my ears. If it was up to me all of them fluffy, shaggy girls would be in the chair and brought to heel like this.

 

That morning the shop phone rang just as I had finished a short crew cut on a shaggy teen boy who was just walking out the door with his mom feeling his shorn head–obviously feeling a bit naked. I was sweeping up the pile of his former hair as I cradled the phone, “Hi Norma…It’s Margaret Story…” Margaret was often a customer…a good looking woman in her 40s that had just gone through a challenging divorce, but was working hard to support her daughter and move forward. She’s been a customer for some time. In fact I may have first cut her hair when her daughter was just little. She had just been in a couple of weeks ago so I was a bit mystified…

 

“Well Margaret…I didn’t expect to hear from you for a bit…what’s up? Ready for the crew cut yet?” I joked. Margaret often talked about maybe taking that plunge some time soon. We talked a lot about the unfair double standard in this regard. “Well…yes…maybe even later this summer I’m thinking…” Margaret laughed dryly, “But…that’s not why I’m calling Norma…” she said. “It’s my daughter. She needs…an attitude adjustment…and we will be on our way soon…today. Can you fit her in this morning?” I smiled in anticipation, “Of course…I’ll be waiting…I’m sure you’ll have some instructions for me when you get here…I’ll look forward to it.” “Well…actually…” Margaret continued, “I’d like to do things a bit differently. I think all of this will go best if I am not there actually…at least in the beginning. I’d like to drop her off if I could and return after the hardest part is over…if you know what I mean…” I smiled and said, “I think so…Will I have any problem? I mean…sometimes  parents can be an important…ah…persuasion force…” Margaret responded immediately…”No, no, no…I think Julia will actually be easier for you to handle if I’m not there…In fact I know she’ll be good for someone she doesn’t know. Especially if there’s some way you can…ah…surprise her. I mean…is there way that she could not know right away how short her hair is being cut.? I don’t mean you necessarily have to hide it or anything but is there a way you could calm her a bit…until it’s too late…or something like that? I don’t have any real ideas…but I know you well enough to know how much you could have fun with this,” she added with a laugh. She continued, “You see…Julia really needs to be taught a lesson. She has just found ways to defy me and ignore my requests…especially with regards to this mess of hair she’s managed to grow…There is a lot riding on her taking this summer seriously…and she is NOT doing that right now. Any ideas?”

 

I laughed. Ideas? Oh ya…I have lots of em. “Margaret…,” I responded, “you get her here and in my door and I’ll do the rest. When you come back…she be a clean cut, model good girl. You just leave the details to me.” Margaret laughed and said, “I gotta go and make sure she is going what she needs to do. We’ll be on our way soon. Oh…,” she added, “You can take the whole mess off too. I’d love to see all of her neck, ears and lots of forehead too when I come to pick her up….You can leave a couple of inches on top, but want her to have a haircut that’s short enough she won’t have to mess with any hair nets or anything like that at all in MY kitchen…and a simple wash up and go in the morning so she can be working early with no muss or fuss,” she added. “It’ll make it easier to all concerned…We’ll be there soon…” I laughed a short laugh and added, “Plus Margaret…you can always just put it all on me if she hates it. I’m really good with that, seriously…plausible deniability if you will…see you soon.”

 

I couldn’t wait…

 

 

Margaret:

 

We rode in silence for the first few minutes. I was trying to find the right words to use. I glanced over occasionally at Julia. She was slumped against the door, her thick blond mane over her face and flowing across her shoulders. I laughed to myself as I looked at it–the “kind of hair that most girls would kill to have.” I’d heard that line myself more then once when I was her age. She so had my hair–thick with a natural wave…so thick…and heavy…and hot…which is one reason why I knew what a pain it would be if it wasn’t cut short. In fact, I first cut my hair short when I was pregnant with Julia that hot summer. Funny…one of the first big fights Joe and I had was when I told him I wanted to cut all my hair off. What a strange situation that all turned out to be. My worry was the Julia was turning out to be the spitting image of her father in many of the not so good ways…Hopefully this summer would help.

 

At some point Julia sat up, pushed her hair out of my face and asked, “where are we?” I hesitated for a moment and said, “We’re almost to Addison…we have some things to do there…” Julia looked at me a bit surprised. “Why Addison? That’s not on our way…Is it?” “It’s just a short detour…,” I added, “A couple of stops…you need some shirts and pants for work…I’ll go pick that up. I’m going to drop you off though for one thing. I won’t be long.” Julia looked a bit alarmed, but didn’t say anything. I said nothing either.

 

A few moments later, we entered the outskirts of town and turned at the first main intersection….

 

 

 

 

Julia:

 

I know I fell asleep for a few minutes and when I woke up, we were headed in strange direction. Addison? Mom seemed funny about it all too…Maybe it would be no big deal. Maybe we’d stop quickly and pick up a few things…and be back on the road…but why here. There were better places to buy clothes that were more on our way. My biggest concern though was…where was she dropping me off…and why? Probably the grocery store or something…but why here…now?

 

When we pulled into town and up to that first stop sign, I sat up to look. We turned the corner and headed down a section of town I hadn’t been to for years. There wasn’t really much…a small furniture store, a couple of bars…and a barber shop. No! Oh…God no…I looked at mom, my stomach in a slight panic now. I was about to ask what was going on, when we turned into a parking spot…right between the barber shop and a small used furniture store. “Mom? What…” I said. I was scared now…really scared. She couldn’t…or wouldn’t…but deep down I knew better.

 

Mom got out of the car…and looked at me. “Come on Julia,” she said to me. “Ah…mom…where?” She walked to my side of the car, opened the door and said, “Out of the car please, Julia.” I got out, unsure what was happening…but I had a pretty good idea. Mom walked to the door of the barber shop and opened the door…and held it open… “Julia…” she said, “Come on…inside please.” I walked to the door as if on auto pilot, unsure still what was going on. “What?….” I said as I walked past her and then stopped inside the door. A middle aged woman with short cropped brown hair stood behind one of the chairs that was occupied by a man who was in the process of getting a military short flattop. She had a large smile on her face. “Hi Margaret…and this must be Julia,” she said, “Julia…you can have a seat in one of the chairs there by the window and I’ll be with you in a minute.”

 

I looked at mom, “Mom?” I said, still unsure what to do. “Julia…” mom said, “we are here to fix your hair a bit more so it’s appropriate for work this summer. Norma cuts my hair and is very good….she knows exactly what you need. You be a good girl and do exactly what she says and I’ll be back to pick you up in a bit.” She turned and started to go out the door. “Mom?” I said and then bit my lip to keep from crying. I sniffed back the tears, but it was really no use, “I already had my hair cut…I don’t want…” Mom cut me off, “NO Julia…you lost all of your choices this morning. Norma is going to fix your hair with a more manageable and practical style…I don’t want to hear any back talk or hear from her that you were a problem young lady. Am I making myself clear? Norma has instructions on what to do. You’ll be fine”. I couldn’t help it now, the tears started to roll. “Mom…please…no…” Mom just shook her head, and as she walked out the door she said, “you heard what I said, Julia. I’ll see you in a few Norma.” “O.K. Margaret…we’ll take care of her,” added Norman. The door closed and she walked to the car without looking back. “Have a seat, Julia…” said Norma. “I’ll be with you in a minute…” With that she flipped the switch on the large silver clippers she held in her hand and combed through the hair on her customer. I sat in the hard wooden chair and looked around. I was scared…

 

For a few seconds the soft whirring sound of the clippers and the whisking sound they made as Norma pulled them over the large comb she was using to create the flat haircut were the only sounds in the shop. Julia looked around the unfamiliar world of the barber shop, sniffing back tears and wiping them away. I could see my reflection in the large mirror over the counter behind Norma. I looked at myself, took a deep, long breath and looked away and down at the floor just wanting this all to end. My attention was drawn to piles of cut hair that had been hastily swept to the side from earlier today. Some of the hair was longer…maybe girl’s hair. I closed my eyes, just wanting this to all go away…

 

Norma’s voice pulled me back to reality, “Nice to see you again Julia…I think the last time you were here you were just a little girl. You’ve grown up.” Julia nodded, unsure what to say. Norma’s next words were directed at the man in her chair anyway. “Short enough on the sides there, Al?…I can take it right to skin if you want.”

 

Julia barely heard any of the discussion that followed. She was just trying to keep from having a panic attack, her thoughts all jumbled and crazy, she noticed that her right leg was bouncing now like a sewing machine needle. She was SO scared. She looked down at her hair now, ran her hands through it…and then up at the mirror. She loved her hair…mom wouldn’t make her get it all cut off or something…would she? What did it mean to “fix it.” It WAS…fixed…and looked great…It really did. Worse..what did “appropriate” mean. She had some idea based on past experience. Julia thought back to some of the haircuts she had as  girl that mom thought were “cute,” “appropriate,” “best”…they were mostly horrible–short bobs with sandpaper like buzz short backs, what mom called a “pixie cut” that often seemed to be code for “make her look like a little boy.” Julia shuddered. Her hair hadn’t been shorter then her shoulders for a few years…not that much more hadn’t been threatened from time to time. A few times when she was younger, mom had used threats of “maybe we should get a pixie again then if you can’t behave” if she was squirming or complaining..or a couple of times when she had misbehaved in some way. That had been a long time ago and, more then anything, those threats from the past HAD to mean that mom understood that she would NEVER actually want her hair short like that again…right?…but Julia just wasn’t sure. Why here? Why now? What if (and this thought made her shudder) the barber thought it SHOULD be short…OR…misunderstood the directions mom gave. This really made Julia nervous. Mom seemed really angry this morning too. What could that mean? Julia tried to take a deep breath to calm herself and looked down at her hair again. She loved it so much…the thought of…How would she deal with it…if? What would people say? Could she run? She felt like she would be sick just thinking about all of it.

 

“There ya go, Al…nice and clean then,” said Norma then, jerking Julia back to reality. Norma was rolling the big white cape down and whisking a brush around his neck. A fairly large pile of his hair lay in a mound in his lap. Julia shuddered and looked away. Norma whisked the cape way, releasing the man and he stood, feeling his head, “Feels good, Norma. You’re the best…keep the change,” he said handing Norma some money. She opened a cash register with a ring, the cape still under one arm, “Yup…my pleasure…,” she answered with a wave. She turned and shook out the cape as the man walked out the door, tossed it over the arm of the adjacent barber chair and whisked around the chair with her brush, and then picked up a broom, “with ya in a minute, Julia…” she said. As she swept up the hair around the chair, Norma said pleasantly, “You’re the third young lady I’ve had in here this morning. Must be that time of year. Gettin warm out there already. You must be ready for something a bit cooler, especially for THIS summer…..” She paused then, focusing on her work. “Well…that is quit a head of hair you have too…must be especially challenging now, huh?.”

 

Julia didn’t know what to say. She didn’t like that last statement at all and was not in any way reassured. She seized the opportunity to try to clarify and maybe test the waters a bit and plead her case some. She took a deep breath and said (as calmly as she could), “Well…I really did just get it cut last week. My mom knows that…She must have told you…” She watched Norma for some indication. Norma didn’t say anything at first, “Hmmmmm…,” she said after a few seconds, seeming to focus on sweeping the pile of hair more then hearing what Julia was saying. As she swept up a large pile of hair and dumped it into a large plastic barrel in the corner Norma said finally, “Well…I don’t know anything at all about that…but your mom left pretty specific instructions nonetheless…that much I do know. Sounds like this is going to be a big summer for you and I think she has a pretty good idea what ya need. Right?” She added, looking up then at Julia, with a wry smile that made Julia shudder. What did she mean, Julia thought. She was about to ask Norma about the instructions and sort of plead her case again, but Norma had finished putting the broom and dust pan away and turned at that point and, grabbed the cape off the chair and said, “Alright there missy…have a seat…”

 

Julia got up, her knees wobbly, and walked to the chair as if walking to the gallows. She felt sick…still really uncertain about what was going on. As she sat down she said, “My mom didn’t tell you that I’d had my hair cut last week?” Norma didn’t say anything. She just tossed the big white and blue striped cape around her and pulled it up to her shoulders and turned to the counter, and opened a drawer searching for something. “Ah…here we go,” she said, pulling something out of the drawer and returning to the chair. She pulled Julia’s hair back and up, clipping it tightly and almost painfully up out of the way. Julia winced. “Sorry…,” said Norma. “That is a LOT of hair. Gotta get it up for a sec…just hold your horses.” She then grabbed a tissue from a dispenser, wrapped it around Julia’s neck and pulled the cape and fastened it tightly and reached out and spread it out so it covered Julia completely. She never felt more trapped and helpless. She then released the clip letting Julia’s hair spill out around her face and shoulders. As she reached back to the counter and picked a large comb she said, “Your mother gave me instructions, Julia…that’s all I know. You may have had your hair cut already. I have no idea about that. She must feel like you need a lot more done. That’s all I know.” Julia felt like she was going to cry again, “But…but…I really don’t want my hair cut again…” Norma started to comb out Julia’s hair and didn’t say anything at first. “Un huh…,” was all she said, “Sorry…trying not to pull to much. It’s so thick right now though. We’ll fix that. Be a lot easier for ya to take care of once we take a lot of this bulk off…,” she added as she worked away with the comb and her fingers. “and ya……I get it that you might not want your hair cut…but your mom has other ideas. This’ll be a nice simple cut for ya for this summer though. I think you’ll like it in time….” Julia was stunned. “Bulk”…”simple cut”….What could she mean? “Please…,” pleaded Julia mildly, “I don’t want it cut short though…I like my hair.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. Norma didn’t seem to notice and didn’t say anything at first. She just grabbed a smaller comb from a dispenser on the counter, picked up a pair of barber shears and walked back to the chair and said, “Well….ya….hmmmm…I’m sure that’s true…I’m sure that’s true…”

 

Julia looked back at Norma trying to see what was going on. Norma grabbed her head rather forcefully and repositioned it, and began combing through the right side of Julia’s hair again, she sighed and said, “Yup…a LOT of hair there girl…we’ll fix that right up, huh?”

 

Norma (the barber):

 

I always feel like getting them in the chair and caped is the hard part. Funny thing about what happens once that cape is on and everything. Even the most difficult ones seem to surrender a bit as if the jig is up and they know there’s nothing more they can do. Even my criers and pleaders sort of give up. Ya the waterworks may still be going, but they generally don’t struggle much at this point. Julia kept it up a bit. She was a pretty good kid though and wasn’t going to fight me. I think she knows something big is coming. She just has to plead the case about the haircut she already had…supposedly…might be…but nobody cut much off THIS mop anytime recently…that’s for sure. The next part was going to be a bit of a shock and reality was going to set in quick for her. As I told her mother…I’d get in the chair and then get things to where there was a point of no return for her…where things were VERY clear. She was a very pretty girl and had a  very impressive head of hair. I’m sure it’s all going to be tough to let go of…but it was all about to go nonetheless…ALL of it.

 

Now…ordinarily I would use the clippers to get rid of that much hair. In this case that might not be such a good idea. I thought I would use scissors first…but in a bit different way…something she wouldn’t expect. I combed through everything one more time and then combed up a large section of hair on her right side and held it up high above her head….

 

 

Julia:

 

I could feel the panic rising, but was helpless…trapped. My hair! I wanted to scream, to cover it, keep it safe…but I grabbed the armrests of the chair waiting. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad…maybe…I hope…I hope…

 

Norma combed up a big section of Julia’s hair. This isn’t that much different then the salon, when the girl there cut the layers last week. Maybe…maybe…

 

 

Norma:

 

I pulled the section up, combing through it out to the ends a few times. I was honestly sort of playing this…and then repositioned my fingers about 2 inches from her head…and snipped everything else off…

 

 

Julia:

 

A foot long mass of hair rolled down over my shoulders and slid into my lap. I gasped…”oh…oh…my hair! What…?” I said as I choked back a sob. This was way worse then anything she could have imagined. Norma combed up another section another huge mass of hair slid down her chest. I couldn’t help it. I just started to cry. How could this be happening. There was NOTHING I could do now. I just cried and held the arm rests tight…Watching as mass, after mass of my beautiful hair rolled onto the cape.

 

 

Norma:

 

I was having fun now. I’m sure she wasn’t. The heaving sobs were obvious. She knew. Haven’t cut this much hair off in awhile…at least not like this. It was work. I combed up the front in the same way, held it up and sliced it off the same length. The whole right front side rolled over her face and into her lap. A few pieces stuck to the wet face and I brushed them away with my hand. “You’ll look great when we’re done…” I said for some reason. I wasn’t really trying to console. I mean…how could I do that. Geeze…all her hair was getting cut off and she knew it now. She didn’t say anything more and neither did I. I just kept combing up and chopping. We were now at the point where half her head just had a couple of inches of hair and the other side was still long. I brushed her face off with my brush again and repositioned the chair and went to work, starting in the back. The masses of hair did a slow dance over her shoulder, some sliding down and slowly floating to the floor. The poor girl’s front was covered in her hair now and I looked down and saw that my feet were as well. More was coming…

 

I kept lifting and shearing, lifting and shearing, working back up to the front. I combed through what was left around her left ear and as I did so, she turned her head to try to look back at the mirror. I heard her gasp. Most of the hair on her head was now not more then a couple of inches. What she didn’t know as that we were just gettin started. “Hold on there missy…I’ll show ya in a bit.” I pulled her head around, lowered the chair a bit more and combed up another large section. This rolled down over her shoulders. Once last couple of chunks…I combed up the last in front then and sliced that off. I then brushed her shoulders off with my hand, pushing the mass of hair down over her chest and into her lap. A mound of hair covered her entire front. She had calmed a bit at this point. The tears were still flowing and probably would be for awhile, but…she knew now. It’s ALL goin baby…all of it! “Well…,” I said, “that’s a load off. Hard part’s done.” I didn’t expect a response. I just repositioned the chair, combed back through everything and added, “this is a grown up hair cut. You’re going to be clean and cool…A good new start, huh?” No response. I combed everything out again to check things and started working up the back with comb and scissors again. At this point I’d usually switch to clippers to get rid of this bulk…but figured I’d work this way a bit more…

 

 

 

Julia:

 

All my hair rolled over my shoulders. There was nothing I could do. I felt some still left over my ears and  a bit on my neck and a little on my forehead. When I had looked back at the mirror with Norma turned the chair a bit I could see there wasn’t much left…a couple of inches maybe. I tried to breath deep and calm down. There was nothing I could do…nothing. Maybe she was done. It might not look that bad…I felt her lower the chair then and push my head forward with some force so that my chin was tight against my chest. I could feel the silky feel of my hair that still clung to the front of the cape against my chin…I started to cry a bit again as it dawned on me that this would be the last time I would actually feel my silky, beautiful long hair for a long, long time. I felt so, so naked…

 

 

Norma:

 

I pumped the chair a couple of times and went to work now, lifting with the comb and shearing off as much as I could. Margaret had said she wanted to see ears and neck…and lots of forehead. Well…that’s what’s happening. I worked quickly up the back, repositioned her head and started up the left behind her ear, clipping up to the crown like the back and then went back and worked around the bottom cutting away everything around the nape of her neck. I’ll come back with the clippers here and blend everything I thought to myself. I worked back up behind her left ear and then repositioned the chair…and snipped everything off around her ear…

 

Julia:

 

I had never had my hair cut like this before…or at least not that I could remember. Norma was lifting the hair that was left with a comb and cutting it off with the shears. I had no idea how short it was…or if any was being left at all. Maybe she is just evening things out…but then she pumped the chair up, folded my right ear down and snipped everything off around the top of my ear. I know I gasped a little again. I felt NOTHING over my ear now. She did the same on the left side after turning the chair and I craned my neck trying to see what it looked like. “Oh…,” I know I squeaked out. I looked like a little boy. Everything was off my ears and neck. I felt totally bald! She lowered the chair again and started working with the comb and shears then up the left side, working up to the crown. Inch and a half tufts of hair rolled over and covered my shoulders as she worked. I felt a breeze now on my ears and neck. This was worse then anything I could have imagined…anything. She then combed through the top, snipped here and there around my forehead and then turned the chair started the same way up the right side. I felt like I had no hair at all…

 

Norma:

 

Alright…come to Jesus time missy I thought to myself. I snipped here and there with the comb and scissors, worked back a bit around the sides near the top to blend a bit and then turned and put the shears on the counter…and grabbed the big red Oster 76 clippers–my favorites–from the hook on the side of the counter. I also grabbed the brush first and whisked around her neck and shoulders…such an improvement. Time to clean her up right now though….

 

 

Julia:

 

I closed my eyes as Norma whisked the brush around my face, but then looked down as she brushed off my neck and shoulders. A mound of short blond feathers rolled down onto my chest. How could there be much at all left, I thought.

 

The bell on the door rang then and I looked up…to see mom standing there…beaming. “Oh Julia…that is SO much better…oh my though…it is really short, Norma! Looks great though” I couldn’t help it…I burst out into tears again, “OH MAMA!” I wailed. “STOP Julia,” said mom, “Norma…it is a huge improvement. She looks really good with short hair…right?” Norma gave a short laugh, “They all do, Margaret…they all do…gotta be just an amazing load off though young lady. How in the world…?”

 

Mom walked around me looking at my hair and fluffing it here and there with her hands. “This is shorter then I thought it’d be…but I like it…you look really good Julia…but…hmmmm…” she said looking me over with her arms across her chest.” I can see this gettin away from us…you know…it’s just so thick…can you…ah maybe thin the top some and take it down a bit….?” Norma walked to the chair and combed through everything fluffing up what was left. I felt like a prize pony. I looked at mom, starting to get even more agitated. My knees kept shaking…but nobody seemed to care. Norma said, “Ya…I was thinking the same…In fact I think it needs to be clipped close on the sides to keep that neat…and then…ya…we’ll take this all down a bit up here and thin it….” “Mom…,” I choked out, “…not shorter…it’s so…so…,” Mom just rolled her eyes and shook her head, “Stop Julia…you lost any choice in the matter…it’s going to be neat and clipped short…get used to it…That’s fine Norma,”

 

At this point a bell on the door rang as a mother and her three kids came in. Norma greeted them…but I was barely paying attention, other then all of them seem to be staring at me. The girl leaned over to her mom and loudly whispered, “is that a girl momma….” That much I did hear. As if I couldn’t feel worse now…

 

I know I jumped though as Norma started the screaming machine she held in her hand and pumped the chair one time. “No…no…no…oh God…” I said, my leg shaking as Norma pushed my head down against my chest. There was a strange scratchy feeling there as nothing but short clippings hung there now. It felt so odd…my whole body shook now too.

 

 

Norma:

 

My trusty Osters were my favorite tool and now I had full reign to use em as I saw fit. I could feel her shaking as I brushed a mound of hair off her shoulders with my comb and then I pushed her head forward and started to work.cleaning up around her neck and defining that and then lifting with the comb around the nape and shearing everything off. This was going to be a pretty sleek short cut…maybe shorter then even I had planned. I smiled thinking about it. She didn’t resist at all…resigned maybe. I worked up towards the crown blending and then started around her left ear using the bare clipper. I felt her wince at that. I’m sure the feel of a bare clipper blade was all new for her. I just kept working up around the sides. It was buzz short now with skin showing around the ears and about halfway up the back. I just kept blending, spun the chair and worked up the right side. She seem to surrender now…her eyes were red, but she wasn’t fighting.

 

When I got to the top I started the same thing, lifting straight up with the comb and taking off another inch or so. She started crying softly again as the first rain of clippings wafted over her face. She’d be legal in a military inspection now…and she probably figured that out…

 

I combed back through everything and shut off the clippers. “Short enough then, Margaret?”

Margaret had been standing away from the chair but walked up then and looked her daughter all over. “That is a really great haircut,” she said, “Yes…that’s great.” I added, “Let me even out the top a bit and thin it some…and I think we’ll be done.

 

I grabbed a small spray bottle from the counter and sprayed the hair on top lightly, grabbed my shears again and worked across the top evening everything out, then put those on the counter and picked up my thinning shears. I worked all across the top then thinning things out, combed through everything, sending a mass of clippings down over her face again. I reached for my brush and whisked her face off. “There young lady…that should feel really, really good…Let me clean up around the bottom here a bit and YOU’LL be done and on your way to camp…”

 

I grabbed the large silver balding clippers from the hook and turned them on. I loved the contrast between these beauties–the soft whirring–and the whine of my Osters. Both were admirable with a specific job. Great tools. I pushed her head down again and worked around her nape a bit, clipped here and there with the comb and clippers and then shut them off….

 

I grabbed the brush again from the counter as I hung up the silver beauties and whisked all around her neck and shoulders, undid the cape and cleaned her up there. Her entire lap was covered with a huge mound of hair as I slid the cape down and pulled it off, dumping the contents on the floor near the basket. Julia’s hands shot up to feel her head and she let out a high scream as she bit her lip. As she stood up out of the chair she turned to look and scream again, “I’m bald…Oh God…no…..”

 

Julia:

 

As Norma pulled the cape off and I watched all my beautiful hair disappear and get dumped by the garbage I reached up immediately to feel my head. I know I shrieked…it was way, way worse then I ever could have imagine. My head was like sandpaper up the sides and back and there was barely an inch or so left on top…all soft too as if was barely there. I looked then back at my reflection and was shocked…horrified. I didn’t recognize myself. I looked like a clipped boy…”Oh God….no…” I kept looking at myself in the mirror and feeling my head in total disbelief.

 

I heard mom say behind me, “Come on Julia…Norma has other customers….” She grabbed my arm like a little girl and pulled me away from the mirror and as she did so she handed me a bag…saying, “Norma, can Julia use your bathroom to change? We have some more appropriate clothes for her here…..” “Go right ahead there missy…It’s right in the back,” she said pointing with a broom. She was sweeping up a huge mound of my beautiful hair now…and unceremoniously…dumped it into the garbage. I walked past with the bag mom handed me as if in a dream, still feeling my head…and took one last look at my hair as I walked past. It was all gone…

 

 

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