Paul junior is excitingly talking to Ralph the barber. His sister Jenny had just vacated the seat.
Summer holiday is just starting. It had been hot the last few weeks and you could tell the kids were enjoying an opportunity for reducing their thick sweaty pelts.
Jenny had opted for a nice chin length bob with buzzed nape.
It looks like Junior and Ralph had come to a consensus . Ralph takes out his trusty clippers and starts working on Junior’s nape.
I watch in a haze as thick blonde hair is slowly flowing down the cape. Junior has my haircolour, where Jenny has Paul’s thick black mane. My eyes glide over the mirror to watch Junior’s face, he’s clearly enjoying it.
Aren’t the kids lucky, they have a fresh summer cut, when school will restart, their hair will have grown to a respectful length. If only their poor mother could do the same. I still have a few weeks to work before we can finally take our summer trip. I am looking forward to it, still it’s only for a fortnight and back to work. So even if I yearned for a real short haircut, I wouldn’t have sufficient time to grow it out.
The shop is empty, we’re the last customers for today. My guess is that most of the families couldn’t wait any longer and have already left.
I gently massage Jenny’s neck and she giggles. I remember, a few years ago, A-line bob’s were all the craze and I had opted for one. I really had enjoyed the buzzed neck. Paul had enjoyed it as well. Alas, fashion changes and now my hair is shoulder length again.
Ralph is making good progress I see, almost all of Junior’s hair is gone in the back and on the sides, only a mop on the top remains.
If only I dream, if only I could get rid of this mess. It’s so hot, my hair is sweaty. I should have come earlier so I’d have some time left to bring the kids home and go to the salon to have a trim and maybe some layers that lighten the heat. You cannot predict the weather, or at least I can’t, I couldn’t forsee this tormenting heat, making appointments in my salon need to be at least two weeks in advance.
Maybe, I think to myself, maybe, I could ask Ralph to trim mine. And if he doesn’t do ladies trims, I suppose I could get a nice chin length bob like Jenny. Her hair is so bouncy.
I bend over to Jenny and whisper, ‘Do you think mommy should get her haircut by Ralph today ?’
Her eyes lit up ‘Yes mommy, that’s a good thought’.
I hadn’t expected that answer as she usually likes to stroke my hair.
The AC is humming, it’s refreshing, but I remember the leaden sun on our way here.
Again I bend over to Jenny, ‘and how short should mommy have her hair cut’
‘Well, Ralph isn’t good at longer haircuts mommy, this is the longest he can cut hair’
‘So short ?’
‘Yes, at least as short as mine’
Junior is smiling broadly, Ralph has finished a nice short flattop and is putting some gel in his hair.
He gleefully looks at his reflection and his cool haircut.
Happy, he jumps out of the barber chair. I take him in my arms.
‘Now that’s a grown up boy’ I whistle admiringly.
His smile grows even broader.
‘Is that it ?’ Ralph inquires.
‘Oh what ?’
‘Is that it, or are you in for a haircut as well ?’ Ralph repeats
I put down Junior and ask, ‘Well, should mommy get her hair cut too?’
‘Yeah yeah yeah’ the kids reply in unison.
Ralph smiles and whirls the big red leather barber chair inviting me to take a seat.
‘Alright Paul, Jenny, do you want to go home, or does mommy really need a haircut’
‘You really need a haircut,’ Jenny informs me, she’s the eldest. Junior nods rigorous in confirmation.
‘You see Ralph, the kids have decided, I need a haircut’
‘Alright Diane, and what are you having’
‘Like the kids,’ I answer, ‘they seem to have decided’
I see my offspring nodding.
I get seated in the chair and it amazes me how big and steady it is. Ralph whirls me around and I feel like I’m on Jury duty on a talent tv show.
A big black cape is thrown over me.
‘Alright Diane, let’s start, this is going to look amazing’
I smile. I wave to the kids as Ralph fires up his clippers.
I can see him oiling up the blades.
The nerves begin to twinkle as he’s placing. I really hadn’t thought this through, but it’s too late, I am committed.
‘Here we go Diane, Get Ready for Summer! ‘
I sigh, I shouldn’t have been so lighthearted.
I want to tell Ralph maybe next time but it’s too late, he already gently pushed my head forward. His hand firmly holds my head down, my chin feels like it’s locked to my chest.
Buzzzzzzz, I feel the steel of the hungry teeth. It makes me shiver. Up they go, but as I expect them to stop, they keep going on. The surprise would probably have been obvious if my face wasn’t hidden behind a curtain of blonde hair.
My head is gently pushed to the left and I can feel Ralph is repeating the work he did on the nape.
He stops to oil the blades again.
‘Ralph what are you doing? This is way too short’
‘But you asked me to cut it like the kid,’ he replies, pointing to Junior who’s smirking in delight.
‘I meant the other kid’
‘Too late now, don’t worry, it’s going to look great’
‘What are they going to say at work ? I’m sure they’ll be laughing at me the whole day’
‘Well, maybe you’ll suffer for a day or two, but you’ll be enjoying your haircut for a lot longer’
I sniff, not really convinced. I resign myself and show it by putting my chin where it was just a few minutes ago.
‘Besides, nobody’s going to laugh, they’ll be in awe and I bet some of the ladies will wish they had the nerve to follow you example, especially in this heat’
‘I wish I had the nerve,’ I try to say.
My head is pushed again and off go the clippers again. I am more relaxed now, realizing there’s little to be done but succumb to the butchering. If I comply, maybe it will look nice.
I sniffle a bit as I see more and more hair piling up on the cape. The blonde strands contrast with the black nylon.
Ralph takes up the scissors to tackle the top. Hastily reducing them and making sure they fall over my nose.
‘Off with her head, off with her head’, he sings as if he’s the queen of hearts. I see the kids laughing in glee at his frolicks. Now he’s getting into the mood as he does small dance moves while hacking at my hair. At least he’s entertaining the kids, he’s frightning me though.
‘Don’t worry, I’m making sure I don’t cut too much,’ he whispers as he goes on in a frenzy.
He puts down the scissors and combs through my hair.
‘Oh my, Diane, did you know you have some serious cowlicks here’ and he points to my neck
‘No,’ I answer in surprise, I don’t recall anybody mentioning that when I had my A-line done.
‘Nevermind, we’ll take it shorter, that should take care of it,’ he smiles
He picks up a smaller clipper and starts buzzing my neck again. Even above my ears he must have found cowlicks as he’s reducing all my hair into stubbles. He stops at eyebrow height.
Sparkling sensations thrill my body, I feel excited as the tiny mower keeps reducing the little hair I have left there.
While he’s switching gear again, I can see my reflection, almost no hair at the sides and a rough mess of longer hair on top.
Not for long there, equipped with a comb the starts reducing that about a finger above my scalp. It seems he won’t even leave me a fringe.
I start to relax and don’t even move when he throws a warm towel around my head.
I have resigned, he’s going to leave me bald, nothing I can do but comply with his whims.
I hear a grumble and even the kids look a bit anxious. He removes the towel and starts to smear shaving cream above my ears and in my nape. Slowly he scrapes at whatever remained.
‘Nice and smooth,’ He laughs, ‘you look amazing.’
He wipes off the remaining shaving cream.
‘Wow, mum, you look wonderful,’ Junior gasps
‘It’s nice I suppose,’ added a weary Jenny.
‘Please let me finish before you criticise’
The enjoyable little clippers are back, it seems he’s cleaning up.
‘There, that’s you finished he says’, as he removes the cape with a big swirl, long locks of hair whirl through the air to the ground.
I pick up my purse and see the finished style in the mirror, oh no, almost all my hair is gone, there’s nothing left below my eyebrow, I can see my scalp in the middle and towards the back. In front and on the sides, my hair is left longer, forming a big U shape.
‘I hope your satisfied,’ I smile half-hearted, ‘How much do I owe ?’
‘Wait,’ he said as he sneaks up behind me, ‘Let me put on some gel’.
He picks a jar of gooey stuff and combs it through the little hair left forcing it to stand up in a straight line.
I pay and as I leave he hands me the jar of styling gel.
‘On the house’ he said bashful.
I put the jar in my purse take the kids by the hand and head out of the barbershop.
Outside, it’s still warm, I can feel the breeze kissing my bare head and halt for a while to savour the feeling. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but at least Ralph was right about enjoying the hairstyle.
We get home late, and I put the kids to bed, hoping they can catch some sleep. Not that it matters much as they don’t need to go to school tomorrow and can sleep late.
I relax in front of the tv. I can’t resists to go look at myself in a mirror during commercial breaks. Oh my, it’s short, whatever is Paul going to say.
‘Honey, I’m home’
‘Ah Paul, don’t be surprised’
‘Surprised about what?’ he asks as he enters the room.
He stops in amazement. ‘Oh, you had your hair cut for summer !’ his voice in a thrill.
‘Do you still find me attractive?’ I ask
‘More than ever’ he smiles, ‘you are always beautiful to me, but this is the best I’ve seen you look’
He snugs up behind me and wraps his arms around me while kissing my bare nape.
Lighting strikes me as he slowly licks my denuded skin.
‘You really should keep it this way’
‘You think so? You want me ?’
‘More than ever,’ he repeats, Let me prove it’
He gently leads me to the bedroom, and he does.