It was a bright sunny summer morning in the Smith’s kitchen. Kate was making pancakes for her husband Sam and 2 kids- Lily, age 7, and Alex, 13. It was the end of June, and the kids were off from school.
“Mom, when are we gonna pack my suitcase” Alex asked.
“I was thinking we’d pack it after you guys get home” Kate responded.
“Where are we going?” Lily chimed in.
“You guys are going with your dad to get a little trim today, so you look your best in our vacation pictures” Kate answered the kids. “Sam, when you get to the salon make sure you ask for Stella, I don’t trust the other girls there”.
“Stella. Gotcha. Will do. What time is her appointment?”
“12pm. But she’s usually running late so take your time”
“Alright, so we’ll head to the barbershop first and then to the salon. What did you say I tell her?” This was Sam’s first-time taking Lily to get her haircut. Usually Kate would take her, but today Kate was busy with her own appointments. They were heading to Mexico tomorrow, and Kate was going to get her eyebrows done, then a manicure, and then a Brazilian wax today.
“Just ask her to give Lily the same cut as me, I was there last week” Kate said, bringing the pancakes to the table. “Pancakes are ready!” Lily was sitting by the table, a fork in hand, smiling ear-to-ear. She loved pancakes. The light was pouring in through the windows, and Lily’s long blonde hair was glowing like gold. She looked adorable.
Soon enough, the pancakes were eaten, and it was time for everyone to go.
“Kiss mommy goodbye” Kate came in and kissed Lily’s sweet cheeks. “You’re gonna look just like mommy dear, Stella’s gonna give you the same haircut as me. Mommy and Lily are gonna be matching”
Little Lily loved matching with her mom. She loved wearing her mom’s clothes and doing things her mom did. Today she was wearing a t-shirt that used to belong to her mom while she was in college. The dark graphic t-shirt was vintage at this point and really faded. Lily started jumping with joy. “Just like Mommy! Just like Mommy!”
Kate and Lily both had blonde hair. Only Lily’s was natural, and Kate’s was dyed. Kate had her hair down to her bra, while Lily had her hair to an inch above her butt.
“Alright, in the car!” Sam spoke up. With that, the kids were off to her day with her dad, and Kate off to her beauty errands.
A few minutes later, Sam pulled into the parking lot in front of the barbershop. The three walked into the shop and were greeted by Joe the shop owner.
“Helllooooo Sam!” Joe greeted. “What do we have here today?”
“The kids and I are here for our summer haircuts. Kate wants us looking good for our summer vacation.”
“Ok then! We’ll be sure to making y’all looking your best in no time. Now what about the beard of yours Sam, ain’t it ‘bout time to let your pretty face shine again?” Joe was no fan of Sam’s hipster beard.
“You know what, I think you’re right. Kate isn’t much of a fan anyway, we might as well make her happy.”
“Alrighty then, y’all take a seat and I’ll be with you soon”
With that, the three of them looked to the chairs. The shop was long but narrow. To the left were 6 barber chairs in front of a mirror. On the right was a row of cheap plastic chairs lining the wall. Further back there was a couch and TV, where the barbers would sit when the shop was quiet. They even had an Xbox. The shop was loud and crowded, and only 2 chairs were available, one on each end of the row of chairs.
“Alex, why don’t you go play some video games while we wait?” Sam asked. “Lily, would you like to sit here or on the other side?”
“Here” Lily was in a barbershop for the first time. The entire scene was new to her.
“Alright then, you sit here and I’ll be sitting over there. Be good now sweetie”.
Sam made his way to the other end of the chairs. After a long wait, the barber closest to Sam finished his client. “Who’s next?” He looked around.
“I’m waiting for John” one client said.
“I made an appointment with Tim” another waiting client said.
And so on. Sam realized that he was the next in line and volunteered to let this unfamiliar barber take care of him.
“Hello, I’m Ben. How are you today?” The barber asked as Sam sat in his chair.
“I’m good, and you?”
“Great, thanks for asking. What will we be doing today?”
“A shave and a haircut, please”
“Oh ok. I should let you know I’m an apprentice- which means I’ve done my barber school but still am not certified. Haircuts with me are 50% off and shaves come with a free facial treatment and neck massage. It’s a great deal but I do take my time, I’m not that fast yet. Is that ok with you?” Ben asked.
“Sure, fine with me. Who doesn’t like a good deal?” Sam chuckled.
With that, Ben threw a cape around Sam’s neck and leaned the chair back until Sam was facing the ceiling. “We’ll start with a series of hot and cold towels to open your pores and soften the beard hairs” Ben headed to the back and came back with a steaming hot towel. He gently placed it on Sam’s face, covering everything save for the nose. Then Ben walked behind Sam and started massaging his neck.
“Whoa, I needed this. This is great.” Sam was really enjoying.
Meanwhile, Joe was finishing up his last client. He looked around started asking. “Who’s my next client?”
“I’m waiting for Tim” one client said.
“I want Ben” said another.
Joe went around the room, and everyone was waiting for their turn with another one of the barbers. “Alright then, I guess it’s your turn” He said turning to Lily. Lily was dressed in her mom’s oversized dark vintage t-shirt and a pair of jeans that were too big on her. Kate had bought her new jeans that she would grow into, but today they looked quite baggy on her. Her blonde her was in a bun that didn’t really show her length. The shy little girl was caught off guard. She didn’t know how to respond to this burly middle-aged man. “Come on there, in the chair” Joe motioned to her. Lily finally mustered the strength to respond, at least partly. She shook her head no. “Hey kiddo, your daddy said you needed a haircut. Come on over and I’ll even give you a lollypop as a prize” Little Lily was starting to think she was supposed to agree with the man. Joe was starting to lose his patience. Joe yelled over to Sam on the other side of the shop. “Hey Sammy boy, it’s your kid’s turn and they aren’t getting up. Help me out here!”
Sam was in no place to be disturbed. He was being pampered with a relaxing massage and hot towel, and hearing the yelling snapped him out of his state of relaxation. He was disgruntled. “Get in Joe’s chair, now!” He yelled with a generous amount of anger in the voice. He knew his children couldn’t resist his yells, and right now he wanted to get back to relaxation and not deal with the kids.
Afraid and a bit confused, Lily finally got out of her seat and into Joe’s barber chair. He pumped her seat up high and threw a cape around her neck. He fastened it tight. “Now kiddo what do we want to do today? A gentleman’s cut, a crew cut, a buzz?” Lily had no idea what he was referring to. Utterly confused, she was silent. “Come on little one, talk to me- what’s it gonna be?” Lily couldn’t respond. The seven-year-old had never asked for her own haircut before, not even in a salon, let alone in a barbershop. She shrugged. “Sam, what are we doing for your kids cut?
“Summer haircut” He yelled back.
“This kid has a lot of hair, mind being more specific” Joe yelled back.
“Something short for the hot summer” Sam was becoming increasingly frustrated. What had started as a relaxing experience was quickly going downhill.
“Alright so crew cut, buzz, tell me what length?” Joe wasn’t a fan of minimal directions.
“Look Joe I trust you. Give ‘em a good chop and please leave me alone. Thanks”
“Alrighty then. Off with this mop. Hmm..” Joe headed for his clippers. Then, he had an idea. He spun Lily around to face the other side of the shop. Right above where Lily had been sitting was a chart with different haircuts printed on it. He walked over and pointed to a picture of a crew cut. “How’s this one kiddo. Yes or no?”. She shook her head no. He then pointed to a shorter look, a buzz cut with faded sides. “Alright then. Want this one then? Yes or no?” She vigorously shook her head no. With that, Joe started walking back to the station. “I know what you want. You haven’t had a cut in G0d-knows and you’re dying for a big chop. I’ll take care of you.” He went over to his hefty maroon Oster 76 clippers. He popped off the guard and swapped it with a blade that read “0” on it.
“Chin up so the hair doesn’t get in your face” Joe directed. Lily lifted her chin, and with no fanfare, he dug the clippers straight into Lily’s hairline. The violent clippers severed her blonde locks, leaving behind a pale patch of skin. The vicious hair chopping continued as Joe made his second pass to the side of the first, removing Lily’s hair with military speed. To Lily, the loud screech of the rapidly vibrating clippers sounded like a monster in a nightmare attaching her. Joe hadn’t even bothered to turn her chair back to face the mirror so all Lily could see was the top of haircut poster on the wall. Joe was making quick work of Lily’s shining golden hair, removing it with the same emotion one would shear a sheep. Another few violent passes of the clippers, and the top of Lily’s scalp was completely denuded of its hair.
Now it was time for the back. Joe forced Lily’s head down, until her chin was touching her chest. He brought the roaring clippers up to her neckline, and plunged them right in. They went up to the crown of her neck in a quick motion. Joe hadn’t even bothered to open up Lily’s bun, now the bun was falling to the floor. As it did, the hair unraveled. The hair was wrapped maybe 5 times around, and only now had Joe realized just how long Lily’s hair was. “Damn son, you had hair like a girl!” He laughed as the clippers continued ripping through Lily’s hair. Lily finally spoke up.
“I’m a girl”.
Joe didn’t hear what she said right away and continued shaving Lily’s hair. All was left were the sides, and within a few short moments those were shaved too. Finally, the clippers fell silent. As Joe reached for another tool, he asked “Did you say something earlier hun?”
“I’m a girl”
“Oh” Joe let out a chuckle, then fired up a foil shaver and started shaving off the stubble covering Lily’s head. “And I’m the queen of England” he said under his breath. He couldn’t believe Lily was serious- her appearance, her dad bringing her in for a summer clipper cut- had mislead him to believe she’s a boy.
“We’ll you’re gonna be a little man when we’re done” He said gingerly to Lily.
*Like for part 2*