Daniel could not believe his eyes when he finally saw his Goddaughter, Lisa, at her friend Christa’s place. Lisa was donning a skimpy, tight body-hugging dress that hardly reached to cover her backside. Her dark and beautiful mid-waist hair was open and in fact, she had them highlighted with an obnoxious blue color. On top of everything, she was drunk.
Daniel firmly yanked at the crook of her elbows, hauling her towards the car. Lisa was in no condition to protest and threw up unceremoniously a few feet away from the car. Daniel held her hair back with one hand while steadying her with the other.
By the time he brought her back home, Lisa fell asleep on the car ride and Daniel scooped her up in his arms, gently, and laid her on the bed. Dragging the duvet atop her, he strode out of the room.
“Is she alright?” Maria asked skeptically. She was the godmother of Lisa and wife of Daniel.
“She is sleeping now. I will have a talk with her in the morning.” The clipped of tone Daniel brooked no argument and hence, Maria decided not to prod any further.
The next morning, Lisa woke up disheveled, hung-over and at a complete loss. It took her a moment to gather the incidents of last night. Deep down, she knew she crossed the line too far this time but a certain stubborn part of her didn’t care at all. Shrugging off the little sense of remorse she had felt earlier, she strode inside the bathroom to freshen up and discard the clothes from last night.
Post her parent’s demise, Lisa grew up to be the rebellious, obnoxious, foul-mouthed and arrogant 14-year-old teenager. No matter how much Maria tried to reform her and be as loving as she could, it was in vain.
Freshly showered and clothed, she walked into the kitchen and met with the stern gazes of her Godparents. Lisa knew they were extremely disappointed with her behavior but chose to ignore them, as usual, and concentrated on her phone.
Infuriated, Daniel walked around and snatched the cell phone from her hand.
“Do not curse at me, young lady. You’re in worlds of trouble already,” Daniel snapped.
Lisa rolled her eyes. “I don’t think I have done anything wrong, Daniel.”
“You know exactly what you have done, Lisa. You sneaked out of the house late at night, partying without permission, getting drunk and wearing that scanty little outfit, God knows from where you have bought. Even if I let go of all the past transgressions, last night was preposterous.”
Lisa lifted her chin defiantly. “You are not my father, Daniel. You don’t have the right to scold me.”
Daniel’s heart scrunched at her words. He knew that he wasn’t the biological father but he loved her no less than his own child.
Pushing aside the hurt, he sighed. “I know that. And I am sorry he isn’t here with you. But Lisa, you know how much we care about you. And this time I can’t let you go unpunished for what you did last night.”
“So am I grounded again?” she asked as a matter-of-fact.
Daniel knew there wasn’t a drop of remorse in her voice or attitude. “You colored your hair, Lisa,” Daniel stated, pointing to the bright blue highlights.
“It’s just highlighting. It looks super cool, guys love it, too.”
“And did you ask permission from either one of us?”
“Are you kidding me? I am a grown-up. I don’t need permission to color my hair. It’s my choice,” she proudly added.
“No,” Daniel shook his head. “It is not. The punishment is getting rid of those repugnant blue streaks from your hair. No respectable young lady wears her hair like this.”
“Fine,” Lisa gritted out. “I will make an appointment and change the color. Are you happy now?”
“No,” Daniel replied sternly, making her squirm slightly on her seat. “I am taking you there myself right now. Finish your breakfast and then we will head out.”
“No buts, Lisa. I have had enough of your tantrums. I adore you, my child, but that doesn’t mean you would be allowed to keep up with this behavior.”
Lisa realized she had pushed Daniel way too far and decided to finish off her breakfast in silence. Once done, Daniel took her by the arm, firmly but not roughly and led her to the car.
Lisa decided against protesting as she knew she got off easy. Changing the hair color back to black was hardly a severe punishment, she thought to herself. Other parents would have taken a strap to the rear but she knew her godparents loved her way too much. Daniel and Maria were always loving and gentle and never, ever raised a hand on her. Their punishments consisted of warnings, grounding, early bedtime, and extra chores.
When the car pulled over near a barbershop, Lisa was confused. Did Daniel want to have his own haircut before he would take her to the plush salon she usually went? Lisa wondered.
Daniel didn’t say a word but merely pulled her out of the car and ushered her into the barbershop. She was clueless as to why Daniel would bring her here but her heart drummed loudly in her chest in apprehension.
“Hey Dan,” a man greeted Daniel who was fairly the same age as him. “It’s nice to see you again. You are here for a trim?”
“Hey Ethan,” Daniel shook his hand. “No, I am here for my little girl here.”
“Ah, this must be Lisa,” Ethan said, turning to her. “Hey girlie, I have heard a lot about you.”
“Hi,” Lisa replied meekly. The rebellious facade was slowly slipping away, overpowered by nervousness.
“Lisa, why don’t you sit down on the chair,” Daniel said, pointing towards one of the red-leathered sturdy barber chairs.
“No arguments, sweetheart,” he cut in. “Just do what you’re told.”
Embarrassed about being admonished in front of a stranger, Lisa complied and plopped herself down on the nearby chair. Ethan, by now, had an inkling why Daniel marched his daughter into the barbershop.
“What did she do?” Ethan asked Daniel.
“Rebellious behavior, dropping grades, tantrums, drinking—you just name it,” Daniel explained. “This has to stop now. I want her punished and reformed, Ethan.”
Ethan regarded her for a brief moment and looked at Daniel. “Tell you what my friend—when she would leave the chair, she wouldn’t even think of misbehaving again.”
“I really hope so.”
Ethan was himself was the father of two twin teenage girls. And a punishment haircut was something he himself administered on his daughters. Ethan had maintained a short, clipped boyish cut on them and trimmed it ceremoniously every three weeks to keep it sharp. For any grave infraction, he gave them a butch cut and the girls had to keep it like that for at least 2-3months as a penalty.
Ethan nodded in agreement. “Do you want it just short or butched?”
“No. Not butched. But yes, short. Something radically short,” Daniel replied decisively.
All this while, Lisa sat on the chair and tried very hard to listen to the conversation between her godfather and Ethan. But the constant buzzing hum from the clippers beside her chair hindered her audible range. Finally, what seemed to be an eternity, Ethan walked towards her chair with Daniel on his heels.
“Lisa,” Daniel said warningly, while Ethan caped her before wrapping a white tissue around her neck. “Ethan is going to cut your hair and you’re not going to move an inch from the chair until he orders you to do so.”
“But I don’t want a haircut, Daniel. You…you can’t do this to me,” Lisa screeched, almost jumping out of the chair. But Ethan’s grip held her back in place.
Daniel completely ignored her protests and turned to Ethan. “Turn the chair away from the mirror. Otherwise, she won’t let you work.”
“Excellent idea! I always cut Elena’s hair without a mirror. She’s one little troublemaker,” he informed but Lisa had no idea who she was. Then, he bunched Lisa’s mid-waist hair and gave it a good brushing.
“What have you done with your hair, girl,” Ethan mumbled rhetorically, smoothing the knots of her dried, bleached and colored hair. Next, he loosely braided the long hair.
“How much are you trimming?” Lisa asked bravely, unable to see what he was doing at the back.
“Oh, no, no. This won’t be a trim. It will be a nice, sharp and clean haircut for a girl of your age. Don’t worry, I give my daughter the same haircut every month. Just sit tight and let me work on these ugly blue strands.”
Lisa gulped. Somehow, she consoled herself that she might end up with a bob, which was short but not very short by the barbershop standards. But fear immediately clawed at her when she heard the clippers and felt it against her nape. Her worst nightmare came true when she Ethan chopped off the whole length within a few seconds.
To make her punishment haircut a little harsh, he dropped the severed braid on her lap purposefully.
Horrified, she froze in her seat. Lisa realized her hair was now merely a little more than bob length. She gripped the armrests tightly under the cape and somehow choked back the threatening sobs.
Ethan quickly sectioned the back and sides. A firm hand clamped her head and forced it down, touching the chin to chest. She felt the metal clippers on her nape; the vibrations shook her core in fear as the instrument clawed upwards—higher and higher towards her cowlick.
The strict barber was nothing less than ruthless in shearing her. From the corner of the eyes, she could only see dark clumps of hair raining down and felt almost light-headed. Ethan, with deft precision, ran the clippers, again and again, reducing the hair to an inch or so.
Once he finished the back, the clippers paused for a brief moment and then hummed to life again. Ethan, now stood on her left, firmly titled her head to the right. This time, Lisa saw that Ethan had a comb and scissors in his hand but her relief was short lived. He combed the hair on her sides, lifted a chunk (around 1.5 inches or so from the scalp) and simply hacked it off, uncovering Lisa’s ears. He continued to lift section of hair from the sides and hacked it.
By now, she couldn’t now hold back her tears anymore. “Please stop him, Daniel. Please!” she begged, teary-eyed and genuinely felt repentant. Daniel didn’t say a word. He simply stood before her with his arms crossed over his chest and watched her getting shorn.
Powerless, Lisa swayed her head in order to escape the shearing on the right side. “Stop moving, little girl. You’re not going anywhere until I am done with you,” Ethan chastised her well enough to make her sit still.
Lisa’s right side received the same ‘lift and hack’ treatment as the left side, leaving her with more or less an inch on her back and sides. Only a considerable length remained on top of her head. The white cape, at this point, was covered in dark snippets of severed hair.
Ethan moved in front of her now, lifted her chin and combed out the hair on top, dragging it down over her face. A comb slid between her locks around the eyebrow level and was abruptly chopped off. SNIP! Lisa couldn’t take it anymore. Her head drooped down in disgrace but Ethan quickly cupped her jaw and lifted her face.
“No more crying, girl. The hard part is over. When you leave this chair, you’d be one polite, obedient young girl,” Ethan declared.
The hair on her crown was chopped and reduced in length drastically but it was still longer than her back and sides. Ethan walked around the chair, running his hands over the shorn head.
Satisfied with the rough length, he glanced over at Daniel. “Do you want me to leave her some bangs?”
“No,” Daniel replied firmly.
“All right, then. I will make the layers shorter and thin out the bunch at the top,” Ethan informed.
“Make sure the length is really short, Ethan,” Daniel ordered.
“Oh, definitely, it will be short. I will use the clippers to clean up once I am done with the haircut. Also, her top is really thick. I think I will have to bring out my thinning shears.”
Lisa sat there, scared and defeated. She knew she could not escape the fate anymore as her precious locks were nearly reduced to nothing. But when she heard the conversation between Ethan and Daniel, she wondered what else was there to chop off? She didn’t know the meaning of ‘cleaning up with clippers’ but she assumed it would be nothing less than dreadful. But there was no way out of this barber chair other than being shorn like a submissive sheep.
True to his words, Ethan used the ‘clipper over comb’ method and reduced the layers to a little more than an inch on the top. Thinning shears were also used on the top to take down the volume. Next, he picked up his trusted Wahl Clippers now and started cleaning the sides, dragging the clippers around the ears to trim the hair little more than sheer stubble.
Lisa’s legs trembled underneath the cape with the never-ending vibrations that shredded her hair into tiny bits. Her stomach felt funny and she thought she’d throw-up right there. Within half an hour, her mid-waist hair was reduced down to a boyish cut with short sides and back. In fact, she wasn’t allowed to have her bangs as well.
On top of everything, she couldn’t even see how short the haircut was. Anticipation was killing her every moment she sat their meekly, like an obedient, little mouse.
For the finishing touch, Ethan picked up the straight, shiny razor, held it before her eyes and said, “Okay, I want you to sit very still now because if you squirm or wriggle, I can accidentally nick your skin. Am I clear?”
Lisa’s throat went dry and she could not bring herself to utter a word but simply nodded. Ethan disappeared behind her and she felt the sharp scraping of the razor low on the nape of her neck. Slowly, the razor was dragged around her ears and Ethan, very precisely, cleaned the sides as well.
“There, all done,” Ethan announced. “Do you want me to make any more changes, Daniel?”
Daniel stepped closer to the chair, inspecting the haircut and shook his head. “I think this is perfect for what I had in mind.”
“Excellent.” With that, Ethan brushed off the tiny hair snippets from her neck and uncapped her.
“I suppose you want to see your haircut now, isn’t it?” Ethan addressed Lisa who timidly glanced up at him and nodded.
Slowly, he swiveled the chair and she was taken back. Petrified, her hands examined the back of her head and all over. She realized her sides and back was half an inch in length. The front was comparatively long but that one-inch length was not good enough at all. She was immobilized and could not even get up from the chair.
Daniel took her hands in his and helped her on feet.
“I look like a boy. It is…so-so ugly, Daniel. How could you do this to me?” Lisa wailed.
Daniel wiped her tears gently. He hated to see her cry but deep down he knew the punishment was much-needed so he steeled his heart. “It was needed, sweetheart. From now onwards, if you promise to behave, you won’t end up in this chair.”
“You are a lucky girl, Lisa,” Ethan interjected. “If you were mine, you wouldn’t have left the chair without the sides and back shaved to the skin and probably some stubble on top. Daniel went too easy on you.”
“I might have to resort to that Ethan if Lisa doesn’t change her ways,” Daniel declared.
“No, please. I will be good, I promise. Please, no more haircuts,” Lisa pleaded at her earnest. “I have…I have learned my lesson.”
“That’s my good, little girl,” Daniel crooned, kissing her forehead. “Now, what do you have to say to Ethan?” he prompted with a hint of sternness in his tone.
Lisa slowly looked at the barber. “Thank you for the haircut, Sir.”
“Ah! That’s some change, Daniel,” Ethan said and then cupped Lisa’s face. “You are welcome, sweetheart. Hope you will behave from now on. I’d be happy to trim you once a month if you want to maintain this haircut. You look sharp and cute in it.”
“I agree,” Daniel cut in.
“I don’t…I don’t know…” Lisa whispered skeptically.
“Next time, I might give you some bangs, too,” Ethan promised, slowly running his fingers through her short hair. “But of course, if Daniel allows you to grow the length, you won’t end up in my chair.”
With that, Daniel thanked Ethan and walked out of the barbershop with the newly shorn Lisa who was still drowning in shock and humiliation.