I’d been dating Hannah for a couple of months now. We’d met at an university night and had hit it one fairly quickly. I would usually consider myself to be fairly average in appearance for a 21 year old aside from my hair which tended to touch my collar at the back, cover my ears and have a parted fringe at the front.
When I’d first met Hannah she hadn’t mentioned my hair but in the past couple of weeks she had brought it up more frequently – always with the indication that it was to long. It was usually something along the lines of me needing a “clean up” and that the long hair look “isn’t in at the moment”. I usually brushed these off with a “maybe” or “we’ll see”. I hadn’t had short hair since I was a kid and hadn’t in a long time considered anything other then a trim.
The other afternoon the subject came up again as she fiddled with my hair. “You’d look so much better getting this sorted out Nick” she said as she grabbed a clump of my hair.
“I’ll think it about it” I mumble, hoping she’d change the subject.
“I’m serious babe, why don’t we pop into town tomorrow and get you a good haircut?” Hannah said, looking into my eyes.
I shifted nervously. “I only got it trimmed a few weeks ago…”
“Exactly, trimmed. You need something more serious then that. It’s a shame you hide your features behind all that hair, you’d look so much better with something a bit shorter”.
“Come on, for me at least? It grows back after all”.
I didn’t know how to respond. I really liked Hannah, and besides how short would she really want it? If I ended up not liking it it would only be a few months to grow it back.
“I guess we can go tomorrow then…”
Hannah beamed. “Excellent, I know just the place. I can call them now!”
I nodded in agreement as she started to dial in a number. Hopefully it would just be something shorter but keeping within the style. I went to get some tea before Hannah turned to me. “Great news, I was able to get in an 11 o’clock appointment for tomorrow!”
I tried to put on a winning smile. “Sounds good, looking forward to it”.
The next morning I spent a good time looking at my hair in the bathroom mirror. This would be the last time it would be this long in a while. I silently cursed myself for not putting up more of a fight last night to keep this length.
When I went downstairs Hannah was already up. She looked great in a low-cut blouse with her blond hair tied into a high ponytail.
“Hi! Ready for the big chop?” She asked with obvious enthusiasm.
“We’re not going to short right?” I asked trying to sound casual. She ignored the question and went on,
“We better head off in an hour, don’t want to be late.”
I was slightly worried she hadn’t answered the question, but reasoned she probably wanted to keep it somewhat of a surprise.
In due course we climbed into her car and made our way to the salon..or so I assumed. I felt a little queasy when she pulled up opposite a spinning white, red and blue pole next to a big sign that said “Abbie’s Barbershop”.
I turned to Hannah. “A barbers? Are you sure this is the place?”
“Relax, my brothers go here all the time and they are really good.” With that she whisked next out the car and beckoned me to enter the shop.
As soon as we entered the distinct barbershop smell hit my nostrils. The place was small with cream coloured walls and a hardwood floor. At the back of the shop was a cash register and collection of waxes whilst on the right side was a padded waiting bench with pictures of men spouting a variety of ultra-short haircuts placed above it. On the left side were two large black barber chairs each facing mirrors. Below the mirrors were sinks and the barbers tools of trade – scissors, combs, hair styling products, razors and pride in place a variety of clippers.
The chair further away from the window was occupied by a guy my age whose black hair was being sheared into a close crewcut by a barberette in her late twenties. Judging by the ring of hair surrounding the chair it looked to be a substantial change. In the other chair was another barberette casually flicking through a magazine, who stood up as me and Hannah entered the shop.
“Hi, my names Abbie, what can I do for you today?” she said. She looked to be in her 30s with wavy blond hair that reached her shoulders and wearing a dark red smock covered by an apron.
Hannah stepped forward. “Hi, we’re here for the 11 o’clock appointment for Nick?”
“Oh you must be Hannah who I spoke to yesterday! Yes, I remember what you told me, feel free to sit on the bench there”. Abbie spun the barber chair in my direction, “and you can come up here”.
I climbed gingerly into the chair, all to aware of the sound of clippers beside me. Abbie attached a piece of tissue to my neck before covering me with a white cape with black pinstripes. I could see Hannah in the mirror, who gave me a thumbs up as Abbie started combing my hair out.
“Quite a mop you have here” Abbie commented as she continued to comb. “Looks like you haven’t been under the cape in a while”.
“Well I’ve been having trims for the past few years.” I mumbled.
Abbie smiled. “Well your girlfriend wants you to have quite the crop, and I think we agreed on something that will look great on you.”
Hannah piqued up. “The style you suggested yesterday Abbie sounded great, would make him look so sharp”.
“Well that’s settled then” Abbie said as she started to pump the chair up. The customer beside me had had his crew cut finished and paid leaving the other barberette to sit in her chair and presumably watch a very dramatic transformation.
I expected Abbie to start wetting my hair first but instead she reached for a set of huge black clippers. She fiddled around with them for a bit – I couldn’t see what length guard she was attaching to them before she positioned herself behind me. I flinched as the clippers were turned on, their hungry roar filling the shop.
“Head down” Abbie said in a commanding tone. A cold hand angled my head downwards as she plunged the clippers into the back of my head, aggressively moving them up to meet my crown. With a casual flick she dumped the hair on the floor – out of the corner of my eye I could see a 7 inch clump of hair hit the ground. This was going to be short.
The clippers continued to attack my hair, each pass sending more hair tumbling down the cape like tumbleweed. I said something along the lines of “I hope it’s not going to be too short”.
Abbie didn’t pause. “I’m just removing the bulk now.”
The barberette in the other chair chimed in. “Your girlfriend made a smart move brining you here. Men shouldn’t have hair that long, it belongs on the floor.”
The three ladies murmured in agreement as Abbie moved onto my right side. I could see now the clippers mercilessly reducing my long locks to a quarter of an inch, revealing my ears for the first time in what seemed like forever. A similar process was quickly done to the left side.
I looked faintly ridiculous with long hair on the top of my head and ultra-short stubble on the sides. I let out a small sigh of relief as Abbie turned off the clippers and picked up a pink comb and a water spray. The familiar feeling of water being squirted over my head and hair combed out was short lived as she grabbed a pair of large scissors.
Abbie started on the back, combing the long hair up and quickly reducing it by five inches. Long wet clumps started to accumulate on my shoulders as my hair was ruthlessly chopped by the scissors. As she reached my fringe Abbie turned to Hannah. “How short are we doing this?”
“Same as the rest.”
With that the scissors triumphantly sliced my fringe to well above my eyebrows as Abbie said cheerfully “well, you can see properly now.” I could even see it being cut not straight but slanted, thereby likely dooming my centre-parting.
Abbie swung her long hair almost mockingly around me as she turned to Hannah again. “This length on top good, or want me to go shorter?”
With that the scissors again attacked my hair, depriving me of another inch and leaving me with hair that could only just be parted.
“Babe you’re looking sooo much better and we aren’t even done yet!” Hannah squealed as Abbie started pumping the chair again.
The other barberrete nodded. “You should take him to a skin fade Abbs, would suit him. A high one especially.”
Abbie turned to Hannah again (I was very much resigned to the fact she had complete control of this haircut). “What’d you think Hannah? Should we do was Suki suggested and give him a high skin fade, or should I just blend this in?”
Hannah looked to me. I shrugged the shoulders. My hair had already been sheared shorter then I could remember, I didn’t so much care at this point if more came off.
“Lets do it” Hannah said confidently.
Abbie grinned as she grabbed the clippers, removing the guard she had attached. She then put the edge of the clippers lying flatly against my head and begun carving a line of skin around my head, starting near the edge of my forehead. I would later find out this was the fade line, but at the time decided not to question it. It was Hannah who was controlling this haircut and if I complained I was sure she would ask Abbie to clip it shorter, a request she would likely be all to happy to oblige to.
After creating the fade line Abbie started to shave the hair beneath it in upwards, short strokes. I thought there wasn’t much hair to cut but the tufts littering my shoulders disproved that. With each stroke a new patch of white skin appeared, reduced to nothing but the faintest of stubble. After each pass the hair was vigorously brushed from my head by a small brush whose bristles scraped against my skull.
After the back and sides had been stripped of hair Abbie began using the clipper over comb to fade it it whilst alternating with different guards. This seemed to last an age with her, Hannah and Suki chatting aimlessly as I took in the continued shaping of the cut.
After 10 minutes of fading Abbie put down the clippers. I was ready to get up but a firm hand kept me in the chair. “Not so fast hun, we have to skin you in.” Abbie was holding a short, wide foil shaver. She flicked them on which produced the most harsh buzzing sound yet as she started to scrape them across the stubble on my back and sides. I grimaced as they slightly pulled at the skin, leaving behind not even the faintest hint of stubble and only pale white skin. I felt more naked then I had at any point during the shearing.
As Abbie continued to shave my sides bald, I had to admire her skill as a barber. She may be giving me the most brutally short haircut of my life but she was clearly a pro – I could see why Hannah had brought me here for a short cut.
After what seemed an age she turned off the foil shaver. Grabbing talcum powder and depositing it into a brush she loosened the cape, sending a heap of hair to the floor as Abbie aggressively brushed off little hairs surrounding my face. Abbie then grabbed a straight razor before holding the skin on the back of my neck taunt and removing the tiny hairs that remain there.
“And we’re done! Nice, short and sharp” Abbie said as she reached for a mirror to show the back of my head.
I was in shock. Less then an hour ago I had been wearing a full head of hair that covered my eyes with a long fringe parted to keep out my eyes. Now the my sides were practically devoid of hair, my slightly small ears being on full display. The hair gradually faded into barely an inch on top with my fringe well above my eyebrows.
I had entered the shop with my hair on the back covering my collar. As Abbie showed me the back in a mirror it had completely changed – I was completely hairless up until my occipital bone, with the hair on the back barely a quarter of an inch as it blended into the longer hair nearer the front.
“Oh my god you look amazing!” Hannah said excitedly as she jumped up from the bench and stood by the chair, admiring the cut. “The short hair look suits you so much better then the birds nest you had”.
“Do you like it?” Abbie said as she removed the cape from me.
I reached up to touch the bald part of my head. It felt odd, much smoother then any other part of my skin, but strangely satisfying. As I looked in the mirror again I began to appreciate how crisp the haircut looked. The shaven sides were severe but they gave a clean look which coupled with the short hair on top did indeed look much neater then the appropriately-named birds nest I’d walked in with.
“Yeah, yeah I’d say I like it.” I said, a little unsure. “It will take a little getting used to but you are right, it does a lot smarter”.
“You want product?”
I nodded weakly. Abbie began to place a generous amount of wax into my hair before shaping it into a light parting that formed a small quiff. She then gave me a final aggressive dusting down before turning the chair away from the mirror, allowing me to gingerly stand up. I noticed the huge pile of long brown hair at the base of the chair. Suki was already sweeping it up as she glanced in my direction. “Told you, guys look much better with something short.” I stammered an agreement.
Hannah was grinning like a Cheshire Cat as she ran her hands over my bald sides. The feeling of her fingernails tensing over them was somewhat arousing, I had to admit.
“I’ll pay, it was my treat after all” she said as Abbie walked to the till. “Abbie, how long should we wait between haircuts?”
“Depend how fresh you want the fade to be. Usually you can wait four weeks before the top needs cutting again but closer one or two if you want the back and sides keeping the shaved look. We do a cheaper service for that.”
Hannah beamed. “We’ll book the next appointment for four weeks then and see how it goes, won’t we Nick?” she said, turning to me.
I smiled “Sure, we’ll see how it looks”. I knew that my hair was now the domain of my girlfriend and these barbers, and I didn’t care. It was a good haircut.
As we left the barbershop, Hannah turned to me, smirking, “thanks for doing that for me, I’ll make sure it was worthwhile” as she brushed her hand through my ultra short hair. I smiled. Tonight was going to be an interesting night.