Summer has begun! Soon it would be summer camps, sleeping in, sleepovers and swimming pools. It was the week after school ended and I my schedule was clean. Today my Mom and I were going out to run errands, including getting my haircut. It was a part of our end of school rituals. Every year she’d take me to her hair salon and I’d donate my hair. It was the only time I’d cut my hair all year. It would grow almost a whole foot over the year so my mom would take me to her stylist, Janice, and she’d donate my hair for free. My mom’s stylist was nice but wasn’t what you could call “hip” or “stylish”. My camp friends only knew me with the short bob. It felt good to donate to a good cause and I didn’t mind it.
My mom said she was leaving my little brother with the neighbors kids for the day and her and I would go out to lunch, do some back to school shopping and visit the salon. I was looking forward to the trip to the Mall. I was going to be a Junior next year and wanted to make sure I made a splash at the parties this summer.
We spent over an hour or two at the Mall going from Limited Too to H&M and then to the surf shop. I ran into a few girls from my class getting their summer shopping in. Everyone was with their moms and we made snide remarks as we were looking through the racks about how embarrassing our mothers were. Normally Mom and I can have a combative relationship with her telling me how to dress or how to act, its so annoying. But today she was supportive of my fashion choices and only made me put back one skirt that she said was too short. So when we finally left the mall we had a car full of bags and I couldn’t wait to get home and try them all on!
“Shall we go get a Starbucks before your appointment?”
“Sure!” I said.
We sat in the Starbucks sipping our iced Lattes. I was busy scrolling my phone and my whole had her glasses on sucked into her phone. Thats when I saw Hillary and her mom walk in. Hillary and I used to be friends back when we were kids but hadn’t really talked much middle school. She was a year older than me and by the time we got to high school she was one of the popular kids and had no time my childish ways. I had a core groups of friends so didn’t feel she left me behind. But we avoided each other and rarely ever said hi. But that didn’t stop our moms from still thinking we’re best friends. Its so annoying when parents try to curate a friendship. Its just like, ‘drop it! Mind your own business!’.
I wanted to avoid getting caught up in a conversation between Hillary’s mom and my mom and avoid that awkward encounter all together.
“Lets get going. I don’t want to be late” I said, pulling my mom our of her phone trance.
“Well okay. Its about time anyway.” She said peering over her glasses.
I remained cool and had my mom and I go out the side exit to avoid Hillary altogether. I was hoping we’d successfully avoided that run-in as we made our way to our car.
I went with my mom to her salon which was a cozy shop not far from the mall.
The salon was more like a small house converted into a salon. It was a long house with no walls dividing the rooms.. The front room was the reception area with couches and chairs. These faced directly into the salon room, which was three chairs next to each other facing the wall. On the wall hung a long mirror that ran the length of the room. Against the opposite wall were a series of old lady hairdryers. The shampoo station was in the backroom.
We we walked into the front room, which acted as a reception it was crowded. I would see all three chairs were occupied and even one lady in the reception area was in a smock with foils in her hair.
“Hi, the appointment is for Leslie. With Janice.” My mom said. Janice, her stylist, and subsequently my stylist, gave a wave and a smile to us.
Sitting down in the waiting area, always made me so nervous. First of all, I feel like everyone in the waiting area are on death row. No one is speaking and everyone is heads down pretending they aren’t there. Second of all most of the ladies are dressed up in gowns like were at the hospital. I was glad I didn’t have to get regular haircuts. I felt sorry for boys or girls whose mom made them trim their hair every few weeks. At that rate a high percentage of haircuts will end up bad ones and you’ll look silly for weeks. We used to also giggle at the boys when they showed up one day with a bad buzzcut type cut.
And lastly, the reception is too close to the chairs. When I’m sitting in the couch waiting I’m just a few feet away from Janice’s chair. So whoever is in the chair is basically having their hair done surrounded by people waiting and watching them.
I looked at Janice. She had her thin little glasses on She peered through them like a librarian. Her arms had so many bracelets and beads that it shook like a dog leash when she moved her hand.
Janice was trimming a young boys hair. By the looks of it, there was a lot more of it on his head a few minutes ago. The electric purple cape was covered in lengthy hair and now the boys hair was totally scalped. Only an inch or so up top and the sides were nearly to the skin. Janice was going around the edges with tiny clippers. She turned the chair as she worked and, like a slow reveal, the boy was soon facing the waiting area. His face betrayed his sadness. I saw him look at his mom and what appeared to be his brother.
The older brother sat across the couch from me. He looked to be about my age and was quite cute! I loved skater boys. He had a band t-shirt and ripped jeans. He still sported punky shaggy hair covering his ears. He sat there shaking as he watched his brothers shearing. Was the brother next? I felt so sorry for him. But also curious if I was about to get to see this cute boy buzzed. I must’ve been staring at the older brother. We made eye contact and I quickly looked away.
Janice pulled the shiny cape off the younger brother and the hair spilled down to the floor. Janice flicked the cape a time or team on the seat, wiping off other long hairs. The little brother stood up and without touching his head or looking at himself in the mirror any longer, speed walked back to the waiting area.
“Come on up” janice waved to the older brother. I saw him take a deep breath. His mom patted him on his back “Lets go” his mom said.
She stood up with him and they both walked to the chair. The boy slumped into it.
“What are we doing here, Laura?” Janice asked to the mom.
“He will be at skate camp all summer. We don’t want all this hair holding him down like a shaggy dog in the summertime. Next year will be freshman year at the academy so we want him to make a good impression on the first day.” His mom said talking.
“So about what we did his younger brother?” Janice said
“Yeah that’s about right.”
“But mom you said I could keep it longer than his!” The boy protested.
“Sure, you can keep your top an inch or two longer than his. Thats fine.” His mom said in the mirror to him. “But keep him handsome looking.” The mom said to Janice.
“Oh I got it. I know what we’ll need.” Janice said patting the boy on his shoulders. “Lets get you cleaned up.” She smiled at the boy in the mirror.
Next the mom moved onto the third chair and the young blonde girl in the chair. The girl couldn’t have been more than 12.
“This looks great Dee” The mom said to the second stylist.
“I think its much for mature for a girl her age to get a good salon cut.”
“Oh I think so too.” The mom said “You okay honey?” The mom said to her daughter. I saw the daughter nod. He hair was still long and her stylist picked up a hair dryer.
Janice pulled the cape from the back of the chair and tossed it over the boy. I could see the nerves on his face as the big purple cape settled over his body. His fate was sealed. As Janice buttoned the cape tightly around his neck I saw him swallow deeply. He was staring at himself dead ahead in the mirror, looking at his shaggy locks for the last time. Janice was changing the colorful bit on the clippers. She walked back behind him when she was clipping the piece on.
“Head down please” She said through the mirror as she pushed his head forward.
The clippers came roaring back to life. Janice pushed them up the boys neck. The first pass it didn’t seem like they did anything. Then pass after pass, she moved so fast, the long shearing came spilling to the floor. Now each time she pushed the clippers up his nape I could see them peel away a strip of his fair hair. It looked like it was raining hair. Long chunks were falling into his caped lap, laying on his shoulders, hanging on the arm rests. Janice moved quickly and I was in awe as his hair spilled all around.
As Janice was working her way from the back around to the sides, she rotated the chair as she went. Soon the brother was turned to face the waiting area. He looked at the crowded waiting area and us, his audience, entranced by his shearing. Janice pushed his head and tilted it to the side. The Clippers went up the right side and more chunks fell straight into his lap. As he saw them fall I could see him flinch. He was staring at his lap trying to avoid looking at us. His eyes were red so surely he was holding back tears.
Lucky, or unlucky, for him, Janice was quick with the clippers. Soon his sides were done and he was spun around like a kid, so Janice could shave the other side.
I saw the cape pulled off younger sister in the second chair. She jumped out of the stylist chair and ran into the waiting area into her moms lap. As she sat there, sucking on a lollipop she took up watching the show.
Janice unclipped the top of the boys hair. She ruffled it around, the hair still enjoying its long length. Janice started to brush it and spraying it with the a water bottle. She did this until the top of his hair was wet and dripping in the boys face.
Thats when she picked up a section of at his forehead, and was combing it straight up. It must’ve been nearly a foot of hair. Then she combed it up just a three inches and stopped with her fingers. Then scissors then came in sliced the hair. In three snips there was a pitter patter of wet hair on the cape. The boys jaw dropped. Janice repeating the motion of pulling a chunk of hair straight up three inches then snip snip snip and the wet hair was adding to the piles of dry straw hair already on the cape.
It didn’t take but 15 minutes for the whole haircut. Janice was quick and had little sympathy for the boys. She always wondered why her boy classmates would one day have long hair then the next short hair, even though they didn’t seem to want to. Janice used the tiny clippers to clean around the boys head again. This time, when the chair was turned toward the waiting area and I got to look at his face again, his face looked exhausted. Like a fire had gone out of him. His hair taken away from him. He had short hair again. His shaggy hip cut was long gone. Janice put in some gel and then pulled the cape off him. For the first time since the cut started the boy moved. His hands came up as the cape was swept away and his hair joined his brothers on the floor. His heads went up to his head and he played with his now super short haircut. As she stood up he had to step over the big pile of hair. He walked back, head bowed to the waiting area. His mom and siblings all stood up. “You look so much more handsome.” His mom said, smiling. Janice and the mom stood at the reception desk doing the payment while the kids stood behind her with their heads hanging low and silent.
“Alright say thanks to Janice kids” The mom said she she opened the door.
The kids all mumbled a thanks refusing to make eye contact with their executioner as they exited.
“I’ll be right with you Leanne” Janice said to my mom.
My mom had been buried in her phone this entire time. She looked up, as if she was confused where she was. “Oh yes, right”.
Janice got out a broom and dust pan. I saw her sweep both brothers light brown hair and the sisters shiny blond hair on the the bin. It took two full bins of hair to clean the floor after.
“Okay come on over” Janice said as she patted the seat. I felt a sudden wave of doom come over me. As I saw the empty chair my heart sank and I felt a rush of anxiety come over me. My mom stood up and grabbed my hand, forcing me to my feet. I must have slept walked to the chair.
“Time for the yearly chop?” Said Janice, playing with my hair from behind.
“Yeah, I was hoping I had enough to leave it at my shoulders this time.” I said
“I thought you wanted to try something new?” My mom said through the mirror, standing next to Janice.
“Oh like what?” Janice replied, looking at my mom.
“Well she said she was thinking about going a bit shorter. A cute bob for the summer? She needs something more mature for sophomore year.”
“No. Mom” I said, losing my breath.
“You never cut it so it’ll grow right back. Less time between cuts.” My mom said sternly.
“You’re mom’s right hun. I’ll donate the 10 inches but that already comes to above your shoulder. I’ll give it a healthy cut from.” Janice said winking to my mom.
“I love it. This will look so great.” with that Janice turned from my mom to me in the mirror. “Lets get you prepped for your big makeover!” Janice chirped. I shivered.
She went a fetched the cape from a stand of capes. They always had such tacky capes. Not like the fancy black robes I’d seen in kardashian videos. She grabbed probably the tackiest cape she could of. It was zebra print with black and white lines curving across it. It was heavy and nylon. It consumed me like I was inside a marshmallow and just my head was sticking it. The ends nearly touched the floor.
I looked at myself in the mirror, just sitting there staring at myself in this stupid cape waiting for my operation.
“We’re going to get rid of the length before we style it” Janice said. She put my hair into the customary pony tails. There were four ponytails when she was done tying them. Their rubber bands higher up than I was comfortable with.
I could feel a tug at the back of my hair and hear the sound of scissors crunching my thick blond hair. I could see in the mirror hair fluttering to the floor behind me. Janice took another section and pulled it down out of sight behind my head. Just like she’d done with the brothers before me she started to rotate my chair as she pulled each section down.
I was so faint by this point I was worried I was going to pass out. Remember to breathe, I thought to myself.
Soon I was facing the waiting area. Luckily it was just my mom and some older lady. My mom was smiling so brightly. I was so mad at her for pushing me into this shorter than normal bob.
Janice was cutting the hair in the front now. She pulled a section down and then put the scissors right at my jaw and chopped. My dry straw hair fell all across the cape, covering me. She repeating it again and more hair covered me. I was now truly in shock.
My attention was again interrupted as the bell on the door chimed. I was basically facing the door so was the first thing you saw when you walked in. And like out of a total nightmare in walks Hillary and her mom. I was mortified. Covered in hair, looking like a child in this zebra cape, getting a terrible mom cut. Hillary looked right at me when she walked in. I swear she even flicked a smile seeing me there.
When my mom and her mom saw each other they broke out in excited greetings and hugging. my mom turned to Hillary
“Hello Hillary, did you see Leslie?” My mom said pointing to me. I didn’t move. I didnt know what I could do in my dilapidated state. Hilary took another quick glance but couldn’t bring herself to see me in such a vulnerable state. “We’re doing something new for the new year!” My mom said chipper.
“Oh that is going to be so cute” Hillary’s mom said at first to me, then towards my mom.
“We just thought it would look a lot more mature for this year.” My mom said.
“Oh I totally agree.” Hillarys mom replied. She turned to Hillary and started playing with your hair. It might be time for you to do something of the same.
“In your dreams” Hillary said. She moved past them to take a seat on the couch.
Lucky for me Janice was moving fast and soon I was spun around like a barbers pole so Janice could hack away the other side of my hair.
The older lady had taken the 3rd seat. Dee, the stylist, had washed out her dye and was blow drying it. The chair next to me, luckily was still empty.
I could hear my mom and Hillarys mom continue to catch up on the couch and talk about me like I wasn’t there. Within a few minutes I was turned back to face the mirror. My hair had not be completely butchered. It was chopped all the way around my head to my chin in a blunt one length bob. The remnants of my long hair now lay in my lap and on the floor behind me. I stared at myself stone faced.
“Thats the rough cut done! Its so much lighter.” Janice said playing with the bob.
“Its looking so much better” my mom chimed from the waiting area.
“I think so too” janice remarked. “Lets get you washed up” she said tapping my shoulder.
She moved off towards the back room. I slowly got up, watching the hair slide to the floor. I avoided eye contact with the waiting area as I trudged off, the hideous cape swishing against my legs.
In the backroom I laid down and let Janice massage my head. I closed my eyes and tried to disappear, glad for a moment of calm where i wasn’t the center of attention in the salon. I liked hiding in the backroom. I must have fallen asleep or the time passed too quickly. But when Janice was done she wrapped a towel around my head. “Up you get.”
As I trudged back through the room the second chair was now occupied by Hillary. Behind her was a stylist I’d never seen before. He was older and grey hair but dressed in kind of hippie clothes and had long hair. He looked like he was one of the Rolling Stones. He probably used to be cool but I always worried about men being scissor happy.
“Hillary, I told you, I am tired of brushing it every night. This will be easier to maintain during field hockey season. ” Her mom said sternly.
“Oh this will look so sexy on her.” The stylist said in his european accent. “We can really take some weight out of the back and give her more wispy bits. She’ll be a rocker babe!”
Hillary still looked forlorn.
“Don’t worry” The stylist said, “I’m still going to keep the length a longer, we’ll just take some weight out of the front.”
Hillary made eye contact with me as I plopped down pitifully in my chair, already succumbed to the cut. Hillary’s eyes looked angry. Janice shook out what was left of my hair from the towels. it looked somehow shorter now that it was wet and tangled. I was devastated. My long hair gone. I suddenly felt like a little girl.
Her eyes turned back to her mom, probably trying not to be at baby like as she was before I appeared.
“This is so unfair.” Hillary said.
“You’ll thank me later.” Her mom said.
“When you walk out of here I promise you’ll be turning heads.” the stylist said digging into his drawers.
Hillary suddenly ran out of words. Her stare went blank as the light blue cape fell around her. The yellow log printed across her body. CRANK it said. It shined in the light as it was snapped behind her neck. Her breathing became fast and her face white.
The older stylist went and picked up the scissors. Hillary watched his every movement apprehensively.
“Lets get rid of this weight shall we?” The older stylists said with a gleer in his eyes. He snapped the scissors twice in the air. Hillary winced.
He grabbed a fistful of Hillarys hair, right at her chin. Then he just chopped at it while laughing. He pulled the foot of hair away from her head like a trophy. He was laughing and smiling as he shook it in the mirror at Hillary.
“Look at that!” The stylist said. “Glad we got rid of that.” He said as he dropped the remains into Hillary’s lap. Next the stylist grabbed another chunk of hair and again scissored it right off.
Hillary sat with her mouth wide open watching the events in the full length mirror. She was in shock. Again the chunk was dropped in her lap. Hillary’s eyes turned towards her mom.
“Wow Crank, this is just so much better.” Her mom said, watching as the stylist took off the last chunk of hair and drop into into Hillarys caped lap. “We won’t wait so long between appointments next time. I knew this would be a great idea.” At this point Hillarys cape was covered in dry long locks.
I quickly looked away and went back to staring at my lap. I could feel Janice’s scissors along my neck. The scissors felt higher than normal, almost coming to my hairline. This was going to be a much shorter cut than I’d gotten before. Previously the hair would fall around my shoulders. But now it wouldn’t even cover my neck!
I was staring into my cape as I felt my chair turn. I picked my head up and saw Hillarys chair turned to face me. We had now choice but to watch each other get sheared. Hilary was on the verge of tears. Her stylist was enthusiastically chopping away with his shears into her hair. Long strands were flying everywhere and falling all around her. Her face was squeezed like she’d just had a lemon.
Our moms were talking in the waiting area “Oh my god they are going to look so cute.” my mom said.
“So glad you gave me this idea. It really is much more look for Hillary.”
“Well Leslie does this every year. I always tell her she should keep it short between the year but she likes to donate.”
“Thats such a good idea. Hillary should do that.”
I saw hillarys face pout upon overhearing this. She looked at me like it was all my fault. She furrowed her face at me. I tried to look apologetic as janice snipped around my side.
Then her stylist stepped away from the chair and looked up at Hillary’s mom.
“I think bangs will look really good with this. What do you think?” He said playfully.
“Yes I agree, that’ll bring out her face so much.” Her mom replied.
“Mom, please no I’ll look so stupid.” Hillary pleaded.
“Hillary, what did I say about talking back?” I could tell Hillary was scared of her mother. She got her bullying attitude from her mother.
The stylist stepped in front of her, straddling her legs. “Alright lets get this fringe going!” he said as he combed out the front. I watched in the mirror and he snipped across and suddenly Hillary had bangs. The stylist turned the chair towards the mirror. a foot of hair sat in her lap now.
We were both facing the full length mirror now. Our bobs had emerged on our heads like a sculpture carving away at our hair. Hers was a wispy choppy bob an inch above her shoulders. Mine was a layered mom bob that sat just below my chin. The remains of our cuts lay spread across our capes. You could barely read the CRANK logo on Hillarys cape underneath her cut blonde hair.
Hillary’s haircut was noticeable more hip and stylist than mine. Even though I worried for her at first with the creepy older stylist she had a great cut. And me, with my cut from Janice, looking like a mom. Sitting under the zebra printed cape, my cut made me look like a little girl. Hillary’s cut looked like a model in her 20s.
Hillarys stylist shook the cape so the severed hair drifted off the cape and onto he floor. Following her stylists commands, she stood up sheepishly and followed him towards the washroom in the back. Her head was now held low and her walk was downtrodden.
“Janice,” My mom called “Lets give Lisa some bangs too.” Those look so cute.
I turned to my mom to give her my pleading eyes. I didn’t want to whine like a baby in front of Hillary. But my mom didn’t look at me. “This will really complete the cut.”
“Excellent. I’ll put in some rollers and let it style curly. A little treat for the new cut!.” Janice said. I wanted to get out of this salon as soon as possible. I did not want to be humiliated any further!
“Oh bless you. She’ll look so cute.” My mom called.
I was distraught. The bracelets on Janice’s hands clinked in front of my face as she combed out my bangs. Janice’s fingers pulled down in front of my eyes.
“About here” Janice said to my mom. I could tell my mom stood up and walked over to the chair. The two stood talking over me.
“Lets go a little shorter.” my mom said. Janice’s fingers moved up.
Then I heard the dreaded sound. Snip snip snip. Inches of hair fell into my lap. My vision was freed.
“Oh that’s so cute” my mom gushed.
Then Janice turned the chair towards the mirror. I looked on in horror. My bangs were cut at the top of my forehead making it look like a poodle dog haircut.
Janice went on cleaning up the bangs. I looked down at the cape and just wanted this experience to end. I usually looked forward to this time. I liked coming to the salon and felt good about my donation. But now I was embarrassed sitting in the chair. Janice was my mom’s stylist and far from cool. She had outdated ideas about what was stylish. She was bad at cutting hair. Now I had some out of fashion poodle cut and would be the laughing stock this summer. Hopefully it grew to a reasonable length by the time school started again.
Next Janice went through and put rollers all over my head. It was like her and mom mom were dragging out my torture. After so long she patted my shoulder.
“Come lets get you under the dryer,” Janice said.
On the wall opposite the mirror were three old school salon hood dryers. They were situated directly behind the chairs facing the mirror. I trudged across the salon and plotted down in the seat. As Janice was fiddling with the hood, Hillary and her stylist reentered the room and returned to their station.
Hillary now sat crossed legged in the chair, the cape removed and sat cooly. She looked like a model as the stylist blew out her hair. It kept looking better and better on her. It was super texture and hung around her face accenting her good features. Her hair was so much more voluminous than mine. She smiled as she was treated to a nice blow out.
Soon I was paraded back across the salon, almost tripping on the cape as I walked. As I sat down I saw Hillary in the mirror. Hillary covered her mouth as she laughed at my poodle bangs and rollers.
Soon Hillary’s blow dry was done. The stylist was spraying hair spray dramatically in the mirror and she shook her hair.
“Perfecto!” The stylist said.
“Oh Crank you’ve done it again. She looks so much more mature!” Hillary’s mom said.
Hillary gave me a smirk as she rose from the chair.
Her mom paid at the register and her mom and mine said their goodbyes.
“Say bye to Hillary” my mom said.
“Bye” I mumbled.
The bell above the door rang. And then in walks Elizabeth and her mom! It was like the whole school was getting their haircuts today. Elizabeth had the longest hair in all of their class. It was like a horse tail and nearly reached her butt.
Her mom and my mom made a greeting and I heard Elizabeths mom admiring my bob.
“that’s such a good look for the girls this summer. I see its quite the hip look too! You should get that Elizabeth. Lets change it up for summer!”
Janice was pulling out my rollers and fluffing my poodle cut. As janice finished my hair I could see them arguing in the waiting area. Elizabeth looked like she was on the verge of tears. As the hair drier stopped I heard them quiet down.
“you better not cause me any trouble” Elizabeths mom said sternly.
“Lets do this!” The older guy stylist said. Elizabeths mom stood up and came over. She and the stylist did some kisses. I could tell the stylist was flirting with liz’s mom. Perhaps that’s how he got all his clientele: Flirting with middle aged women.
As my cut laid down and my chair turned toward the mirror I saw the male stylist threw the blues cape over Elizabeths mom. Her face got a bit more serious as it landed.
“Something a bit fun for summer I’m thinking!” The stylist said. But I was distracted back to my own situation. Janice was at my neck undoing my cape.
“All done for you sweetie.” Janice said.
“Looks super good Janice” My mom said from the waiting area.
Without touching my hair I stood up and walked to the waiting area.
Janice swept up my carpet of hair from the floor. Then she patted the chair.
“Up you get Liz. Your turn.”Janice patted the seat I’d just left. Elizabeth stood up on wobbly knees.
I was getting my purse and turned back to see the Zebra printed cape fall over them chairs. Liz’s shaking tiny body disappeared into the mass of the chair and gown. Janice took a clip and pinned her long mane to the top of her head so that she could snap the cape around her neck.
Her moms hair was down facing downwards into her cape. I could tell her stylist was taking her long bob quite a bit shorter.
“Janice, lets do one of those bobs like the other girls. Will look super good for summer!”
“I know just the cut for her!” Janice said.
Elizabeth was now full on crying, trapped in the chair. I was mortified for her. My mom paid up at the counter and We quickly got out of there.