Chariss was enjoying a Saturday morning in the park. She had just finished a nice jog and was drinking her last bit of water from her water bottle. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail so it didn’t bring the heat to her that it would have otherwise. Her breathing had slowed down to usual and so she headed to the car. As she drove back, she just couldn’t pass the coffee shop. She stopped and got her favorite selection, sat at one of the tables outside, and leaned back to look at some birds pass over in a V formation. She had no plans today. Just taking it easy. She was starting to feel a little hungry. She finished the coffee as she enjoyed a new novel she had just bought yesterday. Somewhere around Chapter Three, everything blurred, and she was in the barbershop across the street again.
A man was sitting beside her eating a cookie. It was a large chocolate chip cookie and looked so good. He looked at her and said, “Hey, you don’t have to stare at mine! Ha ha! They are free. There are some over there.” Without thinking, Chariss got up and got one of the cookies. She took a bite as she sat back down. Oh, wow! It was fantastic! Only then did she take notice of what was happening in front of her. A man left the chair on the right and the man eating the cookie got in. “All of it,” he said. Chariss knew what that probably meant. A woman got into the chair on the left. She was in her thirties. “You too?” the man asked her from the other chair. She nodded. She had light brown hair just past her shoulders. “Good choice, Honey,” he said. Chariss thought, “I’m guessing they’re together, probably even married. But she’s agreeing to… no, you gotta be kidding.” Click! The barber turned on the clippers. Chariss glanced at the man who was getting clippered now, then back to the lady just in time to see the clippers begin their first pass at the middle of her head. Just like that, a small pile of hair hit the floor behind her. The barber continued as Chariss stared. The lady had that same submissive look that Chariss had witnessed before. Soon, the man got down and his son got into the chair. It was only couple of minutes before the barber was clippering him the same way. Chariss took in the whole scene as she finished her cookie. In a few minutes the lady was done, and the cape removed, dropping piles of light brown hair on the floor. A girl that looked maybe thirteen now sat in the seat, eating the last bite of her cookie. Dad was eating another one and just nodded at the barber. Chariss looked at the girl with her dark long straight hair now resting on the cape. “So, the dad is just nodding? Wait..oh no, she has that look. But no girl her age would… no…” The barber held her face with one hand and placed the clippers at her head. Back they went. Long smooth hair fell to the floor.
“Next!” Chariss looked to see that the barber on the left was looking at her. She thought, “No way that’s happening.” She started to walk toward the door, but strangely her body did not continue towards the door. Instead, she walked to the barber’s chair and slowly turned and sat down. “What am I doing?!” she thought, yet there she sat. The barber gave her a paper and she wrote something and signed it. While she physically did this, she failed to register what exactly was on the paper and what she wrote. The family that had been clippered had left and all that was left now was a row of waiting chairs filled with guys, all focused on her. The barber placed some kind of paper around her neck. Then a black cape covered her and was snapped tight around her neck. She wanted to leave but her body did not obey, it just sat there. He pulled the ponytail holder out of her hair and released her hair to cascade over the cape. Bending down to her ear, and holding the ponytail tie in his hand, he said, “Would you like me to throw this in the trash?” She nodded. “Why would I agree to that?” she wondered. Yet no words escaped her lips. The chair felt so big and so much different than the salon. Chariss noticed that more guys had come in now and were standing with the waiting chairs already filled. They were all staring at her, with some whispering to each other. The other barber sat in his own chair and looked at the guys in the shop. “Do you fellas mind if I take a break for a few?” he asked with a smile. Many of the guys smiled too. “No, sir… That’s fine… Take your time…” were the replies. Chariss was on center stage. This was not a show she wanted to be in.
She felt a comb slide under the long hair on her left side and raise the tresses up. Click! Bzzzzzzz… Her lips stayed closed but inside, her mind was yelling, “Wait! No, not the clippers! Not my hair! No, please!!” The barber placed them at the comb and then slowly dragged them across. A curtain of blonde, slightly curled hair fell to the cape. Chariss’s eyes got wide. “No!!!! My hair, my beautiful hair!” she thought, but her lips stayed silent. The barber went around a bit and lifted more long tresses. Chariss heard the tone of the clippers change and then saw more long blonde hair fall, this time some draped across her shoulder and some slide down the cape. The barber finished on the side and continued to the back. It took longer there. Chariss could hear the clippers change tone again and again. She could feel her head get lighter. Then she noticed the guys were not looking just at her now but also at the floor behind her and whispering to each other. She closed her eyes and tears began to run down her cheeks. She envisioned her hair as she washed it the night before and then blow- dried it… so full, so shiny. She could only imagine what it looked like on the floor now. She opened her eyes as he placed the comb on her right side, ran the clippers through, shearing off the remaining long tresses. Now she sat there with a very messy crop. The barber in the chair remarked, “Wow, that was a lot of hair, wasn’t it fellas?” They nodded. The barber behind the chair forced her head down. The clippers came to life again. She could feel the comb touch her head and the clippers as well. After a while she started to raise her head. “Head down, miss!” He firmly pushed her head back down again, with her chin almost touching her chest. As he worked, she could feel the metal of the blades gradually touching her head higher up more and more. The barber went to the left side and pushed her head over a bit. He began working the same way as the back. She could see blonde hair showering down on the cape. Her cape was covered by a variety of lengths of golden hair, from long strands to blonde chunks and strands sprinkled all over. He did the right side just as much as the left and back. He finished and she felt his fingers in the hair on top and then heard the scissors close over and over again. More hair rained down. The hair on top was being snipped to about two inches.
He stopped and she thought this horrible event might be over, but then heard a different sound. It was different than the clippers he had used earlier. Her mind raced as she thought, “I’ve heard those before… When? Wait, … the girl with the scarlet hair I saw the first time here… that shaver he used… No! No!” But no sound came out her lips even though they opened slightly. Tears started again as the barber placed a firm hand on her head, pushing it down, and brought the shaver to her nape. They made a grinding sound and Chariss became tense and her fingers clinched the armrests of the chair tightly. The barber went up and down with the shaver until the grinding sound was gone then he would move to a new section. Chariss felt the shaver go up the back of her head past the bone in the back and a little away from her crown. She thought of the scarlet haired girl and remembered what these had done to her.
He turned her to face the mirror. She was stunned at how short her hair was. She could see so much hair all over the cape. It had been so beautiful, but now strange and lifeless on the cape. She hardly recognized herself. The hair on top was only a couple of inches and combed a bit to the side. The sides were clippered and faded shorter down the upper sides of her head. But most of both sides were shaved to the skin and she assumed the back was the same. The other barber got out of his chair. “Miss, can the fellas examine and see if it’s close enough?” “What?!!” she thought, but her head just nodded. Guys touched her head and rubbed it. This went on for several minutes.
Then the other barber got up and said, “I think it would be closer if I used a razor. You guys agree?” Many of the guys nodded with smiles and he took the original barber’s place. Chariss heard a WHOOOSH, and soon felt cream being applied to all of the back of her head and then the sides. “No, no!” she though, but only sat there. More tears rolled down her cheeks. The barber firmly gripped her head and pushed it to the side. She saw him raise the straight razor and the scraping began. Chariss’s whole body tensed as she was sure she would be cut. The barber continued slowly, frequently wiping the excess cream on a towel on her shoulder. He pushed her head forward and warned, “Don’t move miss!” She could feel the scraping at her neck first and then he gradually went higher. It sent chills through her body. He finally moved to the other side, and she noticed the guys were standing close to the chair watching. The barber finished after several minutes.
“Fellas, let’s put some lotion on there.” Several guys got up and the barber put some lotion on their hands. The first rubbed lotion on Chariss’s head. The second did the same but moved her head around. The next stood in front and pushed her head down and rubbed more, really getting into it. There was too much lotion, but the guys were obviously enjoying it. Finally, the barber took a towel and rubbed it off. “All done, Miss! I think we’ll give you this one for free!” The cape was removed, and blonde hair slid off onto the cold floor to join the other golden piles. Chariss slowly got up. She was shocked at all the blonde hair surrounding the chair. It had been so beautiful. Now it was just strewn across the floor. Her legs wobbled as she slowly walked to the door, stepping on some of the blonde hair. Her head had never felt so light. The wind felt cool against her head as she stepped outside. Inside, the barber swept her hair to the side. With the fifth dustpan full he dumped it into the trash can where it fell onto a blonde pile.